Prime Minister of Ukraine Finds Office “Easier to Breathe in” After Orthodox Blessing

Here’s one I missed from a couple of weeks ago – the new Prime Minister of Ukraine has had a religious blessing on his office; from this description, it seems to have served the purpose of an exorcism:

Before entering his new office, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov invited an Orthodox priest, Father Pavlo from Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, to bless it, Azarov said at a briefing in Dnipropetrovsk on Friday.

“It was really difficult to breathe there. After the blessing I entered the office and felt better,” he said.

Azarov, it is perhaps worth noting, is supposedly a man of science, with a PhD in geology.

Details of “Father Pavlo” are scarce, but he is perhaps the same person as Archbishop Pavlo, who is the superior of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (a famous monastery in Ukraine). The Archbishop is a politicised figure; a highly critical article by Yuriy Chornomorets from 2004 gives some details of Pavlo’s activism on behalf of the Party of Regions, which is now in power:

During the 1998 parliamentary elections, the UOC provided support to the Party of the Renaissance of the Regions of Ukraine (now the Party of the Regions of Viktor Yanukovych). One of the closest assistants of the leader of the UOC, Bishop Pavlo (Lebed) even joined the top five of the list of candidates and appeared in TV advertisement from which one remembers assurances that he was “blessed” for participation in elections.

 Further, in 2008 it was reported that

Archbishop Pavlo (Lebid) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate, has become a deputy of the Kyiv City Council… The hierarch announced his decision to run as a Party of Regions’ candidate on 16 April.

One can see how a bit of religious theatre suggesting that previous prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko had left demons behind in her office might be politically advantageous.

The previous government in Ukraine was keen to emphasise Ukrainian Orthodox distance from Moscow – thus President Yushchenko supported the Kievan Patriarchate, which is regarded by Moscow and by pro-Russian Orthodox Ukrainians as “schismatic”, and made links with Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople. Tymoshenko, meanwhile, received an award last October from the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus (I’ve blogged on him here), and invited him to Ukraine.

Archbishop Pavlo’s support for the Party of Regions has not been 100 per cent consistent; in 2008 he originally planned to stand for election as a Communist candidate:

Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko… explained that, in the current expansion of non-traditional religious denominations, Archbishop Pavlo’s task during his work in the city council will be to return to Kyiv the status of a New Jerusalem.

This may seem odd, but Symonenko has enjoyed support from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchiate) for some time; in 2003 he was given an award for services to Orthodoxy, to the dismay of the rival Kievan Partriarchate:

“It is a pity that we Ukrainians allow such events to take place in the very heart of Ukrainian spirituality, the Kyivan Monastery of the Caves,” said Bishop Paisii [of Odessa and Balta]. “I believe all who were involved in awarding the Communist Party leader are disgraced.”

The Communist Party is now part of the ruling coalition.

Incidentally, it is not only pro-Moscow Orthodox Christians who are backing the new regime of President Yanukovych and Prime Minister Azarov; Charisma reports that:

Prominent Ukraine pastor Sunday Adelaja, whose God’s Embassy church participated in the Orange Revolution, said Yanukovych received significant support from Christians. Adelaja said late last year God showed him in a dream that Yanukovych would be the next president.

“While some of the churches supported [Prime Minister] Yulia Tymoshenko, we had a good number of churches who believed in the revelation and voted for Yanukovych,” Adelaja said.

He said [Vladimir] Shushkevich, [an MP] who is a member of Adelaja’s church, arranged for him to meet with Yanukovych before the election and the two discussed a law Yanukovych’s Party of Regions had proposed that would restrict the work of the evangelical church.

“They immediately responded, and in a matter of days the law was withdrawn from the parliament,” Adelaja said.

I blogged on Sunday Adelaja here and here. Tymoshenko is reported to have occasionally attended his church in Kiev.

English Teabaggers: The EDL vs “COMMUNISM!!!!”

A couple of left-wing websites have noted the English Defence League’s new target: union power and Communism. A couple of days ago the EDL’s site told us that

The EDL know that unions have a part to play to protect workers’ rights, to ensure that employees are treated fairly in the workplace. However it would seem that these unions have become more powerful, more influential and more militant in the political sphere, this is where vested interests infringe upon a democratic political platform, so much so that democracy seems to be ebbing away right before our eyes and its replacement………COMMUNISM!!!!

Great Britain doesn’t do Communism, it never has, yet Communists are afforded more influence and more power as the Labour party look to fund its upcoming election campaign.

Lenin’s Tomb and Barrykade suggest that this is the organisation’s “true colours”, and this is shows that the EDL has an agenda beyond simply opposing “Islamic extremism” – attention is drawn to the fact that the EDL has a millionaire businessman sugar-daddy.

There are, though, a couple of other factors:  It’s clear that the EDL would rather people support parties such as UKIP or the English Democrats over mainstream parties, and Labour’s association with the Unite union is a topical knocking-point. Perhaps we are also seeing the importing of rhetoric from the USA, where the crudest 1950s-style anti-Communist posturing has enjoyed a renewed lease of life over the past year or so. I recently noted Pamela Geller’s reference to Obama as the “mad Commie clown”, and this kind of thing is now commonplace among the “teabaggers” – Geller has written posts commending the EDL to American conservatives, and the EDL in turn has directed traffic to her site.

More widely, Communist groups have shown up at Unite Against Fascism anti-EDL events waving around hammer-and-sickle iconography, and the Trotskyist SWP looms large within the UAF. Naturally, just as the UAF denounces the EDL of having semi-hidden far-right links (a subject I have also written on), so the EDL will point to the UAF’s far-left links, as a matter of tit-for-tat. There are also, of course, actual links between far-left groups and Islamists.

Meanwhile, EDL members are also planning a rally on a “Not Compatible with Britain” theme, attacking the BNP along with neo-Nazis and Communists. Anarchists don’t get off lightly, either…

 

The Pope’s 2001 Letter

Back in 2005 I wrote a blog post about the new pope’s now-infamous 2001 letter containing instructions for dealing with accusations of child sex abuse against clergy. It seems topical to repost it.

From the Observer:

Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had ‘obstructed justice’ after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church’s investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.

The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001.

Erm…that would be the “confidential letter” that has been available on-line since at least the end of 2003 here. But back to the Observer:

It asserted the church’s right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II’s successor last week.

…It orders that ‘preliminary investigations’ into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger’s office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the ‘functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests’.

The letter was passed to the Observer by lawyer Daniel Shea, who previously revealed a 1962 Vatican instruction on the subject to the newspaper.

For those of us unversed in canon legalise, the 2001 letter is a dense and difficult read. The relevant passages seem to be:

The more grave delicts [“wilful wrongs”] both in the celebration of the sacraments and against morals reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are…

A list follows, ending with:

…A delict against morals, namely: the delict committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue [the commandment against adultery, here meant I suppose to encompass sexual sin more generally] with a minor below the age of 18 years.

Only these delicts, which are indicated above with their definition, are reserved to the apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

As often as an ordinary [i.e. a church official] or hierarch [e.g. bishop] has at least probable knowledge of a reserved delict, after he has carried out the preliminary investigation he is to indicate it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which unless it calls the case to itself because of special circumstances of things, after transmitting appropriate norms, orders the ordinary or hierarch to proceed ahead through his own tribunal.

Of course, nothing here excludes the “ordinary or hierarch” from co-operating with local police forces in his “preliminary investigation”. No doubt the letter’s defenders will say that the procedure it lays out is merely for the purposes of church discipline: it is not meant to be a substitute for a secular criminal investigation and prosecution [UPDATE: Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of Houston makes this defence today]. But nothing commends the investigators to work with law enforcement agencies either, and the facts of the church scandals speak for themselves. The Observer also carries an unhappy old quote from Ratzinger’s co-author, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone:

In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has admitted the offence of paedophilia is unfounded.

Bertone argued that putting such an obligation on bishops would undermine the “professional secrecy” of the priesthood, and would prevent priests from “confiding” in their bishops. Why these concerns trump the need for justice to be done and to be seen to be done is not explained; but I’ll bear them in mind the next time I hear (literal!) pontifications on the evils of relativism. The 2001 letter also has this passage (numbers in brackets refer to footnotes):

It must be noted that the criminal action on delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by a prescription of 10 years.(11) The prescription runs according to the universal and common law;(12) however, in the delict perpetrated with a minor by a cleric, the prescription begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age.

According to the Observer:

Daniel Shea, the lawyer for the two alleged victims who discovered the letter, said: ‘It speaks for itself. You have to ask: why do you not start the clock ticking until the kid turns 18? It’s an obstruction of justice.’

Father John Beal, professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, gave an oral deposition under oath on 8 April last year in which he admitted to Shea that the letter extended the church’s jurisdiction and control over sexual assault crimes.

Ratzinger was also responsible for shelving a sex abuse investigation into Marcial Maciel Degollado, who founded Legionaries of Christ in Mexico. That church investigation (the allegations are too old to interest the Mexican police) was recently reopened. The NY Times reports:

It remains unclear why Cardinal Ratzinger changed his mind and reopened the investigation. He has never commented on the matter. Among those who have raised the complaints and others who are closely following the case, one theory suggests that he knew he would be a candidate for pope and did not want the matter hanging over his head when the conclave was held. Another suggests that Cardinal Ratzinger did not want Pope John Paul II’s reputation to be tarnished by allegations that the pope had done nothing to pursue charges against a friend. It is also possible that Cardinal Ratzinger received new information.

Charles Tuhaise and the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Warren Throckmorton has details of a statement by Charles Tuhaise in his capacity as President of the National Association of Social Workers of Uganda (NASWU), defending the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Tuhaise rails against Alfred Kinsey for his influence on American society, using the usual talking-points (I blogged on some of these here); warns that homosexuality spreads disease; accuses gays of paedophilia; and explains the significance of demons:

Demonic activity can be violent or latent as in the case of Mary Magdalene, a woman whose work as a prostitute had demonic link, until she met Jesus. For this reason, Social Work should include the study of the spiritual dimension of life and how it may be applied to promote well-being and social functioning.

Tuhaise’s views were noted in February by Chris Kincaid of Accuracy in Media:

“Many Ugandans are shocked at the reaction to this bill and the extent to which homosexual activists can intimidate everyone to silence,” Tuhaise said. “This is a bill written to control a problem that has largely gotten out of hand in western society and is now spreading tentacles worldwide. Perhaps Uganda has helped to highlight the danger that the homosexual movement poses to the world.”

Tuhaise is chairman of the board of Agape Community Transformation (ACT), a Christian organization dedicated to improving the spiritual, physical, economic and societal conditions of their communities. He is familiar with the bill because he works at the Parliamentary Research Service at the Parliament of Uganda, where the bill is being considered for passage.

…”I am a Ugandan and I’m writing to thank you for your bravery,” Tuhaise said in his message to AIM. “The articles you’ve written in support of the right of Ugandans to exercise self-determination on the issue of homosexuality have thrown fresh light on the American scene [and show] that not every American is scared of the loud-mouthed homosexual lobby.”

Tuhaise also has links with mainline churches; Agape Community Transformation has a website here, which describes ACT as

an organization of people centered in the Muko region of southwest Uganda and in Midland, Michigan USA dedicated to improving the spiritual, physical, economic and societal conditions of their communities.

On both sides of the Atlantic, we are community with multiple faiths and multiple backgrounds, working together.

…One of the early events of the recent visit to Midland was a presentation to the Presbytery of Lake Huron. Mr. Charles Tuhaise, Father Bruno Byomuhangi and Sue Waechter gave a brief summary of ACT and its efforts in Uganda to transform local communities. The result was an unanimous endorsement of ACT as a mission of the Lake Huron Presbytery. Additionally, ACT was held up as a model for all missions efforts in the Presbytery to consider when shaping their own plans. Of particular merit, according to the Presbytery members present, were the ecumenical nature of ACT both in Uganda and in Michigan as well as its grass-roots origin.

Of course, just because Tuhaise works for ACT in one capacity, it does not mean that ACT would therefore endorse his authoritarian anti-gay views – views which clearly go belong simply acquiescing to the consensus in a climate of hysteria. However, it’s clear that Tuhaise used his association with ACT in his correpondence with Kincaid.

Throckmorton notes that

The NASWU is affiliated with the International Federation of Social Workers. Mr Tuhaise told me that the IASW is aware of the document which has generated support and criticism.

Here’s a reminder of what the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill means:

I looked at some of the religious figures promoting the Bill here.

Breast Implant Bomber Tale Rehashed by Sun, Goes Global

Joseph Farah described as “terrorist expert”

BenSix draws to my attention an article in the Sun resurrecting the “terrorists with breast implants” story. According to the paper:

FEMALE suicide bombers are being fitted with exploding breast implants which are almost impossible to detect, British spies have reportedly discovered.

…Terrorist expert Joseph Farah claims: “Women suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaeda are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery.”

…Hours after [the underpants bomber] had failed, Britain’s intelligence services began to pick up “chatter” emanating from Pakistan and Yemen that alerted MI5 to the creation of the lethal implants.

I dealt with this back at the start of February. In early January, a Forbes columnist speculated on the possibility of bomb breast implants, noting that Ayman al-Zawahiri “was a prominent gynecologist before dedicating his life to death and destruction”. A reader’s letter to the Ottumwa Courier made the same suggestion the next day. A few weeks later, the idea was picked up by the Daily Mail, which added the detail about the “chatter” and that “male bombers would have the explosive secreted near their appendix or in their buttocks” (The hapless Patrick Mercer also provided an obligatory quote). WorldNetDaily then picked up the baton, adding supposed evidence from MI5 that the technique had actually been put into use. As I noted in February, how exactly a  conspiracy-mongering conservative internet news-site operating out of the west coast of the USA acquired this extra information – including a direct quote from the head of MI5 that is found nowhere else on-line, and material from a report prepared for him – is somewhat mysterious.

The Sun article rehashes the WND piece, promoting WND‘s preposterous and distasteful editor Joseph Farah (e.g. here and here)  into a “terrorist expert”. From there, the story moved back across the Atlantic to Fox News, and now media around the world are buzzing:

???????????-?????????? ?????? ????? ??????? ???????????? ?????? ? ??????? ??????????? ? ? ????????, ???????????? ?????????? ???????????????? ?????? MI5…

Terroristiverkosto al-Qaidan pelätään rekrytoineen itsemurhapommittajiksi naisia, jotka ovat valmiita piilottamaan räjähdysaineita rintoihinsa…

El Kaide terör örgütünün canl? bombalar? yeni bir patlay?c? yerle?tirme bölgesi ke?fetti: Meme silikonu!…

Chirurgii plastici ce folosesc implanturi mamare cu explozibil pentru atentatori ar putea reprezenta noua tactic? terorist? pe care m?surile de securitate ?i noile scanere nu ar putea-o descoperi…

?? ??????? ?? ?? ??? ??? ????? ?? ???? ???? ??? ?? ????? 25? ????…

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Joseph Farah????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????…

A posting by Neal Ungerleider at True/Slant offers a probably futile appeal for calm:

PETN is a poor substance for exploding breast implant bombs. Pentaerythritol tetranitrate is known for two things: its relatively thick density/appearance/feel in solid form and for its extremely high brisance. The first means that any that any suicide bomber with breast implants large enough to detonate a hole in a plane would be walking in an odd manner that would likely invite scrutiny. The second means that a dedicated detonation device would be required to blow up the breast bombs…

The “explosives in the buttocks of some male suicide bombers” did not work at all. This author has written about al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s love of rectal suicide bombs before. It turns out that planting explosive charges in the body effectively turns the body of the bomber into a shield protecting the intended target from harm…

But how can this compete with the Sun‘s amazing photographic evidence, captioned “threat… explosives inserted into breast implants”:

In January 2009 the Sun gave the public a completely fake terror story about a plot to target British Jews: the evidence was postings on a Muslim website which turned out to have been made by a non-Muslim who then passed the story on to a news agency. The tale was debunked and withdrawn (and the source arrested), but the Sun attempted to defend its article in a letter to the Press Complaints Commission which shows exactly how the tabloid-editor brain works – see here.

UPDATE: Farah has now written a new post, complaining about the use of material published by him and telling us that the supposed scoop actually came from Gordon Thomas:

What they did was plagiarize the words of one of G2 Bulletin’s contributors, Gordon Thomas, and put them in Farah’s mouth.

“Why would they do that?” Farah asked. “Well, I guess they believed it permitted them to not credit either WND or G2, the original sources of the material. Perhaps they thought I would be so grateful for the promotion to ‘terrorism expert’ that I wouldn’t quibble with the misrepresentation.”

And the point is not to quibble with the media misrepresentation, says Farah. The point is to call the public’s attention to a resource that is being purposely obscured from them by the rest of the media – even though they obviously read it, rewrite it and exploit its content to the max.

He adds that Thomas is

a London-based correspondent with deep contacts in British intelligence.

One conservative who is less than impressed with Thomas is Daniel Pipes. Let us turn to a review by Pipes of one of Thomas’ books, Gideon’s Spies:

Thomas holds Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, responsible for the deaths of Princess Diana (whose driver it supposedly pressured to the breaking point); the publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell (whom it supposedly murdered); 241 U.S. Marines in Lebanon in 1983 (about whose planned fate at the hands of Hezbollah it supposedly had advance knowledge); and William Buckley, a CIA agent (whom it supposedly let die so the PLO would take the blame). Thomas’s “secret history” also reveals that the Mossad helped the (failed) putsch of Soviet hardliners against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, and purposely destroyed the CIA’s network in South Africa.

…what is reliable in this book is old-hat, while what is new is utterly unreliable, a mishmash of blather and fantasy.

Reviewers on Amazon have helpfully highlighted a whole series of howlers that can allegedly be found in one of his other books.

Fiasco: LA Premiere of Geert Wilders Documentary Cancelled

The website for the film Islam Rising: Geert Wilders’ Warning to the West carries a passive-aggressive cancellation notice:

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller have cancelled the LA Premier featuring Geert Wilders and PRB Films’ new documentary film “ISLAM RISING”. As stated on the Atlas Shrugs website, the purpose of this cancellation is because Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller are opposed to Christian Action Network’s biblical view on homosexuality.

We want it to be understood that neither Christian Action Network nor PBS Films cancelled this event. You can direct all comments regarding this cancellation to Pamela Geller at www.ATLASSHRUGS.COM.

Though we have some disagreements with Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer over biblical issues, we also want it to be clear that we have the greatest respect for them personally and professionally for all their work in the counter-Jihad movement.

We apologize to Geert Wilders and all those who have pre-registered for this event. All credit cards that have been charged WILL be refunded.

The notice fails to make clear, though, that Wilders himself also pulled out of the event following negative reports about CAN in the Dutch media; Rob Boston gives some background on the Americans United blog:

Yesterday [23 March] I received an interesting call from a reporter in the Netherlands. He was seeking information on an American Religious Right outfit called the Christian Action Network (CAN).

…it came as quite a surprise to see the pro-gay Wilders linking up with CAN, a group that has frequently used vicious anti-gay rhetoric to raise money. In one rather lurid CAN letter from 1998, Martin Mawyer, the group’s president, attacked comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who is gay.

DeGeneres played a lesbian who came out in a ‘90s sitcom called “Ellen.” Mawyer was not pleased. He said DeGeneres had “DUMPED HER FILTHY LESBIAN LIFESTYLE IN THE CENTER OF YOUR LIVING ROOM” and went on to call her a “SODOMITE.” [Caps in the original]

…Confronted with the DeGeneres letter from 1998 by De Pers, Mawyer tried a creative dodge: He simply lied about it, labeling the letter an internet hoax. Unfortunately for Mawyer, I was able to pull a paper copy of the letter from AU’s files. Believe me, it’s no hoax. (You can read it here.)

I also sent De Pers three other stridently anti-gay fund-raising letters from Mawyer. The newspaper contacted Mawyer to ask about them – were they too perhaps “internet hoaxes?” – but at this point he stopped talking.

Wilders initally tried to shrug off Mawyers’ anti-gay views, stating that

‘I totally disagree with them about this [gay marriage],’ Wilders was quoted as saying by the Pers. ‘But they can make a film about me.’

That was noted on 22 March; the next day it was reported that he was backing out, and Geller and Spencer announced the cancellation – although, like Mawyer, they make no reference to Wilders’ own decision not to attend.

Geller’s response to the notice on the Islam Rising website is typically vitriolic and aggrieved:

Contrary to the false and misleading posting on the CAN Islam Rising film site, let me be clear. Our cancellation had nothing to do with the “Christian Action Network’s biblical view on homosexuality,” but with the abusive, ugly rhetoric found in various pieces of CAN literature. Atlas readers are well aware that I welcome differing opinions and perspectives, but the unifying theme here is individual rights, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and human rights.

Just because you consider something immoral doesn’t mean you should go around heaping abuse on those who have a different view of those whom you consider immoral.

Robert Spencer, meanwhile, adds that:

The cancellation had nothing to do with the “biblical view of homosexuality,” but with the ugly, vitriolic rhetoric that Mawyer has employed in the past… Taking a stand against something one considers immoral is one thing; indulging in hysterical, self-righteous, abusive rhetoric is quite another.

…Do we think Martin Mawyer, or anyone, should be dogged by something he wrote in 1997? Of course not. He has claimed that this letter is a forgery. Very well. If he provides evidence of that, I will be happy to see it and post it. He has claimed in statements to the Dutch press that he repudiates what he said in this letter. Very well. But his disingenuous posting on the Islam Rising site does not inspire confidence. If he repudiates what he wrote in 1997, why mischaracterize it on his site as our alleged rejection of the “biblical view of homosexuality”?

This is humbug: Spencer has known all about Mawyer’s anti-gay bigotry for months. Last autumn, Spencer joined Mawyer on a trip to the UK – Mawyer used the visit to interview the leaders of the English Defence League, and there was a farcical dinner party that was cancelled at the last moment when it became apparent that Mawyer’s assistant had invited the EDL leaders to come along without asking if that was acceptable to the other guests, who included Douglas Murray (Murray and the other guests, it should be made clear, are also opposed to homophobia and would not have known much about CAN). I blogged on this fiasco, and on Mawyer’s lurid anti-gay views, and my posts were picked up by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs. On 6 September, Johnson linked to my post on Mawyer, and on 9 September he made full reference to Mawyer’s “FILTHY LESBIAN LIFESTYLE” letter, and mocked Spencer for hanging out with the “extremists of the Christian Action Network”.

We know that Spencer read these posts, because he responded on his blog, denouncing Johnson as a “libelblogger” and defending his association with CAN:

As for the CAN, I am working with them because of their excellent work on the documentary Homegrown Jihad. I do not feel myself bound to endorse every one of their other positions, or consider that I have done so, by working with them. In reality, I don’t make public statements on issues that are not jihad-related.

As I blogged here, Spencer also made passing references to me in comments he left at Harry’s Place, so it’s clear he knew exactly what Mawyer stood for and did not consider his “hysterical, self-righteous, abusive rhetoric” to be a matter of which he should take notice. Mawyer’s coarsely-expressed bigotry only became an issue once it became clear that than association with him would be damaging to Wilders.

Prominent Activist and Academic Lives the Life of Brian

Here’s one I’ve missed: as is being widely reported, following an appearance on the Colbert Report, the academic and activist Raj Patel has been heralded as the long-awaited “World Teacher” Maitreya by Benjamen Creme and his Share International organisation; the New York Times reported last month that:

The Maitreya clues — his age (supposed to be born in 1972; Mr. Patel was), life experiences (supposed to have traveled from India to London in 1977; Mr. Patel was taken on a vacation there with his parents that year) race (supposed to be dark-skinned; Mr. Patel is Indian) and philosophies — all pointed to him. Some believe Maitreya will have a stutter. When Mr. Patel tripped over a few words when talking with Mr. Colbert, it was the final sign.

Patel has denied he is any such thing, and he has responded to the fuss by posting a clip from The Life of Brian on his website.

Creme has been promising that Maitreya will reveal himself for years; if you’re the sort of person who reads classified ads or looks at notices in shop windows in the UK you’re likely to have seen some reference to Creme’s lectures at Friends Meeting House and Conway Hall in London, along with perhaps this photo of an unidentified man whom Creme assures us was Maitreya putting in an appearance in Kenya in 1988. In the 1980s Creme declared that Maitreya was living among Asians in London’s East End; in 1985 some journalists arranged a meeting at an Indian restaurant in the area in the vain hope that Maitreya might be tempted to come along.

Creme made his new announcement in January; his website reports:

The way prepared by His Herald the ‘star’, Maitreya, the World Teacher, has given His first interview on American television. Millions have heard Him speak both on TV and the internet.

His open mission has begun.

He was introduced not as Maitreya, the World Teacher and Head of our Spiritual Hierarchy, but simply as a man, one of us. In this way He “ensures that men follow and support Him for the truth and sanity of His ideas rather than for His status”.

He spoke earnestly of the need for peace, achievable only through the creation of justice and the sharing of the world’s resources.

This is the first of many such interviews which will be given in the USA, Japan, Europe and elsewhere, bringing His message of hope to the world.

However, no media attention has been given to the other side of the coin – for a long time, Creme has been watched suspiciously by Christian fundamentalists who believe him to be the herald of the anti-Christ and part of a Satanic conspiracy. Inevitably (and perhaps worryingly), some YouTube videos and conspiracy theory threads are now appearing that link Patel to the anti-Christ.

In 2008-09, Creme’s teachings were also used by Christian fundamentalists to whip up “Obama is the anti-Christ” paranoia (part of a larger trend); it was noted that Obama had visited Kenya in 1988, and this site claimed to show that he was the mysterious man photographed in Nairobi; the author insists that “even to the most untrained eyes, either these two men are the same person, or they are twins/brothers or related in some other way.”

Creme’s beliefs are rooted in theosophy; he was also formerly Vice-President of the Aetherius Society, although he left in 1959 over “differences” (I blogged on another Aetherius Society-linked figure here).

Ed Brayton vs Ellis Washington

I’m jealous of Ed Brayton just now: a WorldNetDaily pundit has devoted a whole column to attacking him. The columnist is Ellis Washington, who has written numerous pieces attacking the theory of evolution on the grounds that it undermines Biblical morality. Ed sent Washington a question:

Can you provide a coherent, consistent explanation other than common descent for the patterns of appearance of endogenous retroviruses in vertebrate genomes? Francis Collins, the Christian geneticist who headed up the Human Genome Project, lays out much of the data on ERVs in his book The Language of God and argues, quite correctly, that it simply cannot be explained without common descent (which is, of course, the theory of evolution).

 Ed then followed this up with a blog post making fun of Washington’s views about the SeaWorld killer whale that recently killed a trainer; Washington had thundered that because of “humanists and social egalitarians”, the creature “can frolic in his holding tank in front of millions of people all over the world and not be killed for his multiple murderous acts”. In a particularly bizarre non sequitur, Washington went to a rail against John Maynard Keynes, who “has been revered by European socialists and American progressives including U.S. presidents Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.”

Washington has now responded, with a train-wreck of pseudo-intellectual posturing. Some highlights:

Lieralism will always fail because it will always collapse upon the weight of its own immorality.

~ Anonymous

I consider myself a conservative intellectual, a thinker who holds philosophical ideas out the Judeo-Christian traditions of intellectual thought. That said, without fail when I write an article about the diabolical influence of Darwin’s theory of evolution on society, I get some of the most reactionary, incoherent rants from the liberal blogosphere.

…Your position is ipso facto (inherently) indefensible. You have built an entire worldview on quicksand. Lenin referred to true believers like you and your fellow bloggers as “useful idiots.”

…Since I am not a scientist but a philosopher and an intellectual, the way I approach all bodies of knowledge is from reason and veritas (truth). We could argue back and forth on Darwin’s theory all day, but let’s cut to the chase. Mr. Brayton, how can you rationalize and compare your humanist and atheist ideas in relation to St. Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome?

…Your issues about where humanity came from are not so much a problem of the head (brain), but of the heart (soul). Until you repent and ask Jesus to come into your heart you will always be confused and wrong in your worldview, which will disallow you, I and your fellow bloggers the ability to have a rational discussion based on the syllogism that was a foundation of Western civilization:

If A = B, then A + B = C

Good grief, it’s all there: first, we get a vacuous assertion presented as an aphorism, as if that makes it profound and unchallengeable. Then, the whine that to disagree with him is “reactionary”. We next come a to bit of pointless Latin (“ipso facto”), followed by a famous pseudo-quote from Lenin, which again serves no purpose. Then another Latin garnish (“veritas”), followed by an argument from the authority Saint Paul. We then get some cod religious psychology about “brain” and “soul”, and – to round off – a completely irrelevant and meaningless insertion meant to show that he knows something about syllogisms (and he doesn’t even quite succeed at that). The rest of the article attacks Ed’s character and supposed lack of patriotism. The one thing he does not do, though… is provide a coherent, consistent explanation other than common descent for the patterns of appearance of endogenous retroviruses in vertebrate genomes. Ed gives his own response here.

All of this is consistent with the posturing often (but not always) found on the libertarian right: once one has learnt something about the various rules of formal logic and a bit of rhertorical sophistry, one simply has to wave these around and no matter how better-informed your opponent may be, he or she can be confuted and dismissed without even the need to engage with their evidence or arguments. Washington is just a particularly inept example of this syndrome.

In his profile blurb, we learn that:

Ellis Washington, authorized biographer for the conservative intellectual Dr. Michael Savage (see www.MichaelSavage.com), is former editor of the Michigan Law Review and law clerk at The Rutherford Institute…

I ‘ve blogged on “the conservative intellectual Dr. Michael Savage” various times, such as here.

UPDATE: Ed tells us that:

The bio at the bottom of his WND posts start with, “Ellis Washington is former editor of the Michigan Law Review…” That is false. He was never even a student at the U of M Law School. As an undergrad, he was chosen from three students to take a temporary job with the law review (replacing someone who had health problems, I believe) where he did mostly cite-checking and footnote checking. And it looks like it only lasted for one issue. “Former editor” makes it sound as though he was the actual editor; he was not.

The English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism on the Police

February: An English Defence League statement denounces alleged police bias in the wake of a protest in Edinburgh and the arrest of Tommy Robinson:

…The Police threatened anyone who attempted to protest with immediate arrest. Meanwhile, far-left so-called ‘anti-fascism’ protesters were allowed to wander the streets without any Police opposition. These same protesters made numerous attempts to attack EDL and SDL supporters, while nearby Police officers turned a blind eye. It is clear that today’s Police actions were politically motivated and that the Police Force as a whole can no longer be considered to be politically neutral. They have chosen their side.

March: Unite Against Fascism’s Weyman Bennett denounces alleged police bias in the wake of a protest in Bolton and his own arrest:

I have been to more than 200 demos and never been arrested… Officers came up to me as soon as I arrived and said they would arrest me. They are hostile to anti-racists and there needs to be an investigation. Police neutrality needs to be questioned.

John Bolton’s Foreword for Book about Obama “The Mad Commie Clown”

Eric Roper at the Star Tribune recently blogged on a speech by Michele Bachmann which accused Obama of being un-American:

She then took the un-American theme a step further, promoting former U.N. ambassador John Bolton’s claim that Obama is the first “post-American” president. She said “some have called” him this, though it’s largely credited to Bolton, who was using the term as a commentary on Obama’s foreign policy.

Bolton himself also used the phrase again this week in an editorial for the Wall Street Journal.

It is perhaps also worth noting that Bolton has written a foreword to a forthcoming book entitled The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America, by none other than Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Bolton has previously expressed himself to be “a fan” of Geller (she interviewed him in 2007) and they move in the same circles, but even so it is remarkable that a man of his status should wish his name to appear on the cover of book by an author known for such extravagantly vulgar political discourse. The book was submitted to the publisher (Threshold, a Simon & Schuster imprint) in December; she announced on her Atlas Shrugs blog that it would be:

The beginning of the end of the mad commie clown.

Her bombastic blog gives us a good idea of what level of discussion to expect. She has recently railed against “the current coup”, and has declared that a census-taker’s wish to talk to her is proof that Obama

intends to use the census to fix the next and future elections so as to ensure his Radical Left polices prevail for the long-term.

Charles Johnson points out that to Geller

the President who is simultaneously a master schemer with a secret plan to turn America into a Nazi-like state, and an ignorant illiterate who doesn’t even know how to hold a pen.

Geller had written that:

Every time I see BHO sign another bill, I am fascinated at how he holds a pen. He holds a pen like an illiterate. Have you seen it? Like a little kid who just learned how to write and he signs a scribble.

He makes an O instead of an X.

Just sayin.

Actually, he holds a pen the same way Prince William does (and the way I do, as it happens) – it’s an inverted style often found in left-handed writers (she’s not the first to have made a meal of it). Geller has also used her blog to promote a guest-post claiming that Obama is the illegitimate son of Malcolm X; she later complained that this was being used unfairly to suggest that she believed such a thing herself.

She also throws around the most excessive accusations against anyone else she takes a dislike to; unsuprisingly, the word “Nazi” looms large in her polemical vocabulary, and she believes that journalists critical of the role of neo-Pentecostal pastors in the Rifqa Bary case “ought to be charged with incitement to violent honor killing”. I recently noted her crudely abusive response to an attack by Max Blumenthal. For those who wish to probe the sewer more deeply, I recommend the archives of Sadly No.

As for her co-author Robert Spencer, in 2008 I noted his claim that Obama had sent a secret message to Muslims by using his full name during the presidential inauguration. Spencer has also endorsed a Christian fundamentalist book which warns that the Bible predicts the rise of a Muslim anti-Christ.