Arundhati Roy: A Fearless Human Rights Activist Or A Bad Joke?

I have no idea to what extent this view will be controversial or seem misinformed, but after looking into the political situation of India and its surrounding borders, I’ve come to the conclusion that this woman is either willfully ignorant, a charlatan, deeply hateful of her country and her fellow people, or some combination of each of those contentions.

First, I’d like to dissuade any readers that might jeer at me for being some BJP street thug as I’m often accused of online when making any opinion on Indian politics – particularly on websites like Quora. I’m a US-born and raised Indian and I’m only looking at this from a political science lens. I had initially been swept up by the anti-BJP rhetoric that seems to be permeating throughout the mainstream US media as of now, but after looking into matters further, I’ve concluded that the US government and media are too dumb to adequately understand the dangers of this anti-BJP narrative and the Christian missionaries who are pushing for forced conversions are only going to cause an utter bloodbath between Muslims and Christians thanks to the age-old Abrahamic cultural hate that’s existed since Islam emerged in world history.

I’ve since changed my mind after researching the political climate of India and its neighbors. But I’d like to add that the BJP and so-called Right-wing of India’s political culture is overly sensitive to criticism and incredibly stupid in its responses. Thankfully, Modi and his administration are quite competent in deftly handling situations otherwise the corruption and anti-nationalist politics would continue dominating India. Instead of defending rapists, his government has pushed for reforms to punish child rapists, he’s pushed for job growth through environmental initiatives, he’s pushed for policies for child safety measures from abusive households, he’s pushed for women’s rights and celebrated International Women’s Day , and pushed for anti-corruption. The problem seems to be this overly paternalistic and frankly idiotic narrative towards college kids who want to protest for the rights of a convicted terrorist, a terrorist who clearly wants to kill the civilian public, and the college kids protest for that guy’s rights… for whatever reason. Nevertheless, admonishing them for drinking habits and sex is completely stupid. In a democracy, they should have the freedom to do as they please with their life choices. The BJP should have put more effort into the convicted terrorist’s criminal activity instead of personally insulting college youth.

I’m of the opinion that Arundhati Roy genuinely doesn’t give a shit about her fellow Indians based on her actions. The level of loathing and vindictiveness that this woman seems to have for India as a whole leaves me speechless at times. I don’t think any other democracy would have made her look like some activist fighting for human rights or presuming she has credentials where she really doesn’t since all she has offer is having written a best-selling novel once. I only speak harshly because it seems increasingly obvious to me that this woman, through her actions, deliberately tries to increase tensions and spur loathing and contempt among India’s civilian population. Under veneers of reconciliation and human rights, all she really offers is writing content that exploits scheduled castes, Muslim minorities, and so forth into hating their government and the majority population. I would actually contrast her with Amartya Sen, who I find gets just as much backlash from the BJP supporters but for far less justifiable reasons. Amartya Sen is ridiculed and lumped with Marxists like Pankaj Mishra, but having read his book The Argumentative Indian, I have not found this to be true. He’s further been criticized for wanting to “break India” by many BJP bloggers and Twitter handlers, but this is again untrue. Amartya Sen took extensive pains to celebrate the unity of India by pointing out the Heterodox tradition that foreign travelers independently detailed during ancient times. India is a heterodox culture which he feels proud to be a part of; from what I recall, he explicitly says this and suggests reading about great intellectual icons of India. I had assumed the BJP supporters had similar misapprehensions about Roy, but after looking at the evidence, I can only conclude that their criticisms about her are justified.

The reason being is that only someone willfully ignorant would ignore the devastating realities happening in each Muslim majority country around India’s borders and the selective narrative of the Rohingya refugee crisis that genuinely horrified me when I read more into it. I’d first like to begin with Afghanistan and detail what happened there when Islamic fascists consisting of the Mujahideen took over:

From journalist and Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at UCLA, Nushin Arbabzadah, in what was an attempt by a lecturer from a Liberal College to warn the US public about the dangers of Islam in an article about the Mujahideen and Islam:

28 April marks the 19th anniversary of the mujahideen’s victory over the Red Army forces in Afghanistan. The original mujahideen of the 1980s and today’s Taliban may use the same language of holy war, but their understanding of jihad is worlds apart. The key difference between the original mujahideen and the Taliban is that the former waged a traditional type of jihad. In a traditional jihad, if waged locally, a contest over control of resources takes place between rival strongmen who each run their own private armies. In this scenario, the ultimate legitimacy to rule draws upon military strength, but the contest itself is called jihad simply because Islam is the sole language of political legitimacy.

Crucially, in a traditional jihad, the victorious party has an unspoken right to pillage, rape and loot the conquered population. This is because militia fighters are not paid soldiers in a regular army and hence looting is the material reward they receive for fighting. The original mujahideen followed this traditional pattern of jihad upon coming to power in 1992. Since competition over resources rather than ideology is key to traditional jihad, the mujahideen’s war focused on Kabul where the nation’s wealth and the foreign embassies, another potential source of funding, were to be found.

Judging by a historical account from the 1920s, back then the women and girls of the conquered populations also belonged to the pillage package offered to militia jihadis. Hence, in the diaries of court chronicler Katib Hazara on the siege of Kabul in 1929, we read that the victorious mujahideen of the time had demanded to see the list of girls registered at a Kabul school so as to allocate female students to militia fighters.

Katib’s account might be exaggerated, but the story still reveals that there was an unspoken rule that women and girls were part of the conquest package. As such, the mujahideen’s struggle over Kabul was a continuation of traditional jihad complete with internal rivalries, pillage and looting. The mujahideen were part of the realm of traditional politics in which a conquered region is a turf that can be exploited by strongmen, who call themselves mujahideen so as to appear respectable.

Now, a Hard-Leftist may credibly argue that US foreign policy helped shape that situation. However, it doesn’t explain the utter catastrophe that is Pakistan, which a brave Pakistani government official has bravely spoken up about and extensively detailed in a book under threat to her own life. Pakistani Farahnaz Ispahani’s book, Purifying the Land of the Pure, goes into the extensive history and effects of the Islamic Republic upon Pakistani minorities who have been ruthlessly slaughtered by the Muslim majority country. The situation of Asia Bibi is only the tip of the iceberg for how destructive, violent, and outright murderous Pakistan is for Sikhs, Christians, and Hindus living as minority groups under Muslim rule. The vast majority of these groups have all fled due to a variety of reasons. From having hands chopped off for blasphemy offenses, to women in these religious minority groups being raped and then being forced to marry their Muslim rapists, to being murdered over a cup of water, being randomly attacked, and now that they’re a fringe minority, the majority Sunni Muslims have turned their sights on Shia Muslims and began murdering them en masse to continue these historic genocidal abuses.

The interview with Farahnaz Ispahani:

From 23% in 1947, Pakistan’s minorities today constitute a mere 3-4% of the population, says Farahnaz Ispahani, media advisor to the president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2012 in her book Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities.

She blames the successive Pakistan presidents and prime ministers for launching a slow genocide against minorities in the country to shore up their political base. She specifically blames Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the Pak army general who was the country’s 6th president, for creating a militant group to target Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians. Edited excerpts from an interview:

Could you tell us something about the title of your book Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities?

Pakistan itself means pure land. The reason I chose it is because I have traced in my book, using historical archives, how Pakistan which set out to be a secular albeit Muslims majority state, ended up becoming what it is today. When Pakistan was being formed in 1947, Pakistan’s population of non-Muslims was 23%, today we are somewhere between 3%-4%. So there has been a purification of minorities.

So my big question was where have they gone? What I have uncovered is quite devastating because it has not been one government or one man who has been culpable. It’s not only (former president) General Zia ul Haq. It has been from the time of Mr (Mohammed Ali) Jinnah, the Qaid-e-Azam of Pakistan, as he lay dying, already the political and bureaucratic wheels were moving towards a more Muslim state.

I am saying that for all religious minorities—Muslim and non-Muslim—there has been a purification. This is what I call drip drip genocide. Normally when people talk about genocide, they talk about Nazi Germany or they talk about Yugoslavia. In the case of Pakistan, this is slow genocide, this drip, drip, drip over 76 years.

You refer to the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) founder and ideologue Maulana Abul Ala Maududi in your book. Was this purification the handiwork of politicians only or did religious leaders and scholars also have a role?

Maulana Maududi did not support the formation of Pakistan; he did not think it would be Muslim enough. Mr. Jinnah, as he was dying, talked at length about Pakistan’s minorities and said no matter what someone’s faith was would not matter in Pakistan. But after he died what happened was, most of the people who were in leadership positions in Pakistan, in the Muslim League like our first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, were not from Pakistan. So they did not have natural constituencies as politicians.

You have a man like Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan who himself was very secular in most ways. He becomes the man who brings about the resolution which went into every single constitution we ever had, which was very clear in that it said that Pakistan was a Muslim state. And that the Quran and Shariat and Sunnah (verbally transmitted teachings of the Prophet) are to be part and parcel of the state. It was the ugliest form of realpolitik.

What people like Liaquat and Chaudhury Mohammed Ali (fourth prime minister of Pakistan), etc., did was that they revived “Islam is in danger” as the glue to keep them in their positions. Mr. Maududi and his fellow clergymen therefore became of great value to the political leadership of Pakistan to justify their decisions, to keep them in power.

And as you go on, when you have the first proper martial law in Pakistan when General Ayub (Khan) takes over, you see the nexus of the military with the mullahs and politicians who were acceptable to the military.

You have talked of the links between politics, religion and the military. How did militancy come to be linked with this?

The first well-known and well-organised terrorist militia that we know about that dealt with religious minorities was created by Zia-ul-Haq. It was called the Sipah-e-Sahaba and its sole job was to harass Shias. So, that is the first group that we see that is armed and trained and reasonably openly by the (Pakistani) government of that time.

Some of these groups—not all—in some seasons cross borders and in some seasons there are at home purifying the land of the pure, whether it is blowing up Ahmadi places of worship or Christian worshippers at mass or Shia imambargahs.

So the state’s policy that goes back to the very beginning of mixing religion with politics and then religion, politics and the military together has resulted in a terrible situation not just from the point of view of Pakistan’s neighbours but for us Pakistanis as well. Over 60,000 Pakistanis have died due to attacks internally by terrorists.

Of all the politicians who have done their bit for the decimation of minorities, would you say that it was president Zia-ul-Haq who did the most damage?

Yes. Two things, he legalised Islamisation—whether it was bringing in the Hudood (ordinance in 1979 under which Sharia laws applied in cases of extramarital sex, theft and prohibition). From very little things like introducing prayer times in government buildings to very, very, very harsh laws of blasphemy. The other thing would be the birth of these jihadi groups in a very, very big way.

He attempted to alter our culture—Pakistani diplomats’s wives could no longer wear saris—they were considered Hindu and un-Islamic. You could no longer say Khuda Hafiz; you had to say Allah Hafiz.

These small things have now percolated down and they have shaped an entire culture. So that’s what he did, the small things changing the way people thought, the laws which were then impossible to get around and then the Jihadi groups.

How can this state of affairs be changed?

It has to be through political leadership, even though we saw in (Punjab governor) Salman (Taseer)’s case that in spite of everything when (his security guard) Mumtaz Qadri pumped his body full (in 2011) of bullets the other people stood there and watched. Later Qadri was garlanded and the judge who found him (Qadri) guilty, we had to send the judge and his entire family out of Pakistan. I was in government then. He’s never come back.

This book is like a death sentence for me. Civil society at that time had no leadership. And the reaction was don’t even talk about it. Don’t even mention Asiya Bibi (Pakistani Christian found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Taseer opposed her punishment). Look at Salman, he was so foolish. There was no one willing to bury him. I had to find somebody, beg someone to read his last rites. And then, I had to get that person and their family out of Lahore.

So is this the worst for Pakistan and therefore can one say that change can only make things better?

I could never say something like that because its impossible to be so categorical. Pakistan is a functional state still and there is a lot of room for change. I hope things turn around. But I think a big part of it is that jihadi groups have to be dealt with. They can no longer be good jihadi groups and bad jihadi groups. There should be no jihadi groups. Countries can have militaries and countries can have diplomacy. Unless we move past this kind of a situation, the world is losing patience.

Any point when this could be changed?

From the very start. Mr. Jinnah was still alive and they have the temerity to block his speech from the radio. That entire speech was about how important Pakistan’s religious minorities were and how absolutely vital it was for pluralism and to have a successful state for all citizens to have a place. Once you end up introducing a religious law it is almost impossible to amend it or to change it because they are seen as protecting Islam and feelings of Muslims.

In the book, I break this down into four stages – and I call stage one Muslimisation. This comes about between 1945 and 1951. There is a massive decline in Hindu and Sikh populations and therefore Pakistan became more Muslim demographically.

Stage two is Islamic identity. This is where you see from 1958 onwards state-sponsored text books reject pluralism, paint religious minorities very negative, highlight and glorify Islamic history with no South Asian basis. So an attempt was made to forge a Pakistani identity purely on the basis of Islam.

The third stage is Islamisation. This is where legislation in an attempt to make the country’s laws more Islamic resulted in creating a legal framework against the minorities. It started in 1974 and continues up to 1988. This was all done in General Zia’s time.

Stage four is militant hostility towards the minorities, which is the stage at which we are and we have terrorism and organised violence.

First Published: Tue, Jan 19 2016. 12 35 PM IST

Farahnaz Ispahani is a real human rights activist, and a real academic since she has the credentials and fact-finding methods to back up her research. Link here for her book.

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The United States of America Is Finished At This Pace

Note: I no longer have any faith in the US Republic. I bet a bunch of Trump supporters will say go back to your own country, well news flash: I was born and raised in the US, but hey, keep espousing the same hateful comments that Neo-Nazis do right before they murder Sikhs, rape Native Americans, murder Jews, beat helplessly upon Muslims or kill them, and kill people of my descent. All I’m saying is, I wholeheartedly cannot bring myself to say or do anything but give up on the US Republic and the US Constitution. I’ve participated in donating to political causes I care about, I’ve participated in knocking on doors for democracy up to and during Get Out The Vote events, done cold calling for candidates I support, and I’ve tried my best protesting and reading political news. I’ve sent emails to the US Congress, even the current President, and spoken out against corruption. Trump is still in power, he recently added to his fountain pen corruption with even more taxpayer money waste on decorations up to 200,000 dollars in taxpayer monies, and none of the politicians I try to contact ever try to address my concerns. Half the time, calling goes directly to a dead phone line. None of it means anything. I give up. I’ve grown up here in the US for all my life and apart from some social issues that look like they’ll be reversed anyway, everything has gotten worse from the economy to the debt (Trump added another trillion and nobody is doing anything to stop his idiocy), and it’s clear none of these politicians have any coherent or realistic plan to fix anything from the infrastructure to the debt or to ending the war in Afghanistan. They’re all Trump-lite, utterly incompetent and in power being utterly incompetent for far too long but you in the US public keep voting for them because you’re dumber than they are. In short, the economy’s going to collapse, the US Republic is de-legitimizing and headed for collapse, Climate Change will kill the entire human species in an estimated 80 years, and I’m probably going to be murdered and forgotten about as just another minority victim on the news killed by Neo-Nazis. I’m sharing this to let you all know, this is why young people typically don’t even bother, from a millennial who tried to give a shit and gave up because you all are too dumb to keep the US Republic from turning into a genocidal dictatorship. If Trump keeps his full 4 year term, it means the US really is dumb enough to allow a dictator with murderous intentions in power, who could willingly commit a genocide with the support of you right-wing Trump supporters. Go ahead and laugh as you say “fu liberals” while you and your children’s future die a slow death along with the rest of humanity at this pace.

The following is an email I sent to my US Congressional representatives and I’m sharing it here to explain why I feel the way I do and what my thoughts on the US Republic are now. I know, deep down, it just doesn’t fucking matter what I think and I can no longer rationally expect to ever achieve any of my personal dream goals when this threat of violence keeps escalating. Call me a crazy idiot, whatever. I’m sure most of you won’t even read, just like the US Congress people I constantly tried contacting. I didn’t care to change any mistakes in sentence structure, because I don’t believe they’ll even read it and I forced myself to email it as-is against this overwhelming feeling of existential dread at the future of humanity.

This email was titled: “I No Longer Have Faith in the US Republic

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Shin Megami Tensei Discussions with Beadman

Spoiler Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for the mainline Shin Megami Tensei series and other MegaTen related series such as: Majin Tensei I and II, Digital Devil Saga Duology, the Persona series, Devil Survivor series, and well . . . potentially everything MegaTen / Shin Megami Tensei related, but those are the main video game series that get spoiled.

Content Warning: In general dialogue with others online, I tend to use expletives. Not in a way to insult in this context, but as a general habit of discourse. I don’t mean any insults towards Beadman, and apologize if any such comment was inferred or directly made by me. I do admit to purposefully using expletives to properly articulate by annoyance with Eirikjrs in this discussion at one instance. More importantly, Beadman and I have an outspoken and frank discussion on Abrahamic religious theology, its plausibility, and its history based on the evidence given by modern Western academics. I hold very negative views and am frank in my crass humor when talking about religion in general. Although, if you’ve checked my blog, then you probably knew that already.

Below is a backstory if you’re curious to learn more about who Beadman and I are, why I decided to have this lengthy discussion and asked Beadman if it was okay to share it with you all, and why I believe such discussions have value. If you would like to skip it due to lack of interest, please just scroll down below to the slideshow. 

For those who may be curious or hold interest in learning about either of us more personally, I am a self-described Hindu Atheist and Beadman is a Transtheist and Surrelativist (an identifying name for the position of Emerging Theism). We had a separate discussion about how he defines his personal beliefs, but I felt it was wrong to add that to the discussion as I don’t want this to be construed as an attempt to shame or insult his beliefs as that is not my intention.

Having thought over the SMT discussion, I couldn’t help but ruminate on the many, many changes on both my beliefs and my interactions with Beadman over such a short span of time. I first met Beadman in 2013 and we had thoroughly diametrically opposed views on the Neutral ending of Shin Megami Tensei IV on the MegaTen Reddit website. He couldn’t believe that the people of the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado could be herded through Naraku in a mass exodus without casualties and criticized them all fitting into Cafe Florida at the end of Neutral. I felt he was focused on the wrong details, making a mountain out of a molehill, and quite liked the ending. I stopped following Shin Megami Tensei for awhile, because I was under the false impression that there wouldn’t be another game for another 9-10 years due to the trackrecord of mainline games usually being that far apart on initial releases. To my pleasant surprise, I was wrong, and I got to enjoy a duology from the mainline series. And… a bunch of extremely personal stuff involving my near-death from a car crash happened, and I was not in the best of emotional states because my family basically told me that it didn’t matter that I almost died, didn’t believe I was in severe pain, didn’t believe I’m suffering from lifelong neck pain no matter how many times I tell them clearly and calmly, and well…. I took it out on Beadman at one point. I repeatedly apologized to him since then, but to my surprise, he didn’t remember the incident and he generally gives me the impression that he’s aloof from such things. I think it was because he was practicing Stoicism at the time, but I don’t think that he does anymore and I think he’s better off from it. He seemed to have his own bottled up annoyances, and I don’t believe that it was due to me, per se. I didn’t inquire though, but if there is anything of substance, I sincerely wish him the best in dealing with it.

I came to terms with my own personal issues upon recognizing my family, specifically my parents, are completely awful at articulating that they care in explicit terms. They’re the unique kind of… special that can’t verbally articulate or explicitly show they care, but instead do so with actions… and ignoring social problems deliberately because they’re awful at dealing with stress; but still support me through and through. It’s a very bizarre relationship; I’m living it and I don’t know how to fully describe it. I don’t go into too much detail because they have this fear and paranoia of being judged by the public that I never quite understood so on the off-chance they ever read this and know its from me, I’ve made sure to keep terms vague, because I just don’t want to deal with any potential future melodrama from them. I’m of the personal opinion that it largely doesn’t matter, anything you say about your life to the public will be absorbed for like five minutes of conversation, maybe an insulting text or a slew of insulting texts for a little while, and then promptly forgotten about because nobody truly cares about such gossip or melodrama beyond feeling better than some stranger online for however long the emotional superiority feels good to an individual.

As you can well imagine, I had to work on my own existential dread for awhile and my ire with politics, which I think affected me more deeply than most people since I am a political scientist albeit a low-level one, Beadman has publicly mentioned on Reddit that he minored in Philosophy while majoring in a STEM related field. For my part, I’ve read every major book of Friedrich Nietzsche’s and criticized his depiction of Nietzschean philosophy as it seemed to be based on Bertrand Russell’s godawful strawman depiction rather than genuine Nietzschean philosophy. At the same time, I’ve had to modify my views on Consequentialism and Utilitarianism, because that was his main focus and he clearly knows far more about it than I do. Due to Beadman’s influence, I read and finished John Stuart Mill’s Three Essays on Religion and I find it to be a fairly good critique of the failings of religion connected to State politics, but I also discovered that Mill was a racist moron. Beadman had once criticized Atlus for the “unclean” but I pointed out that if he’s right and I’m wrong about contentions I had against Law being Utilitarianism, then Atlus was completely justified in depicting Angels borderline racists against Japanese people. Mill repeatedly, and I do mean nauseatingly so, goes on and on about how Asians are untrustworthy thieves and diseased. Even if one were to argue that Atlus should focus on the philosophy and not the person, you have to keep in mind that if they did read Mill, it would be earnestly taking the time to read this man’s philosophy while he goes on paragraph upon paragraph about how diseased their culture is, how they aren’t worth trusting and should be looked upon with suspicion, and how their culture and society is a garbage heap. Atlus depicting Angels saying Japanese are “Unclean Ones” or “the Filth” is . . . incredibly benevolent and mild compared to the asinine comments that John Stuart Mill wrote repeatedly about Asian culture. Please believe me when I say that I’m not overstating this. It’s the equivalent of I, as a US-born and raised person, reading a book which falsely claims that the US is a disease-ridden group of morons with no moral values or positives repeatedly strewn across various paragraphs while a foreign person is passionately discussing their moral philosophy. It might credibly be the case that Atlus is trying their best to depict Utilitarianism in a neutral context from the standpoint of what Mill actually said about Asian societies as a culture and people in his own very homogenized context. Please keep in mind that I actually liked what I read about John Stuart Mill’s philosophy when he kept focus on the philosophy itself, but when he went into foreign cultures . . . it got very stupid, very fast. This judgment of mine is also based upon one small book of his, I have no idea how Mill addresses Asians within the context of his larger philosophical works. Nevertheless, I now realize I misunderstood what Beadman meant since I thought he was saying Law was focused on John Stuart Mill’s Pleasure-Pain principle, but in fact, he places more emphasis on Bentham before John Stuart Mill. To the best of my knowledge and based on what I read from Mill about his own personal teacher, Bentham’s views are more vague and less focused on pleasures in his Consequentialist ideology. Mill is the one who fleshed out the philosophy to be more coherent and it seems Beadman was emphasizing the more vague version of Consequentialist ethics when critiquing Law.

Anyhow, before I began the discussion presented below, I had given him my explanation for why Nietzsche has a very big emphasis with Atlus’s work. I’m fairly sure my essay had an impact as I showed the various forms of symbolism and allegories to Nietzschean philosophy throughout the Shin Megami Tensei IV-IVA duology. I had always wanted this sort of discussion with him because I feel such a discussion, and publicly sharing such a discussion, has far more to offer than the nonsensical travesty that has become Eirikrjs blog. To emphasize this further, and to give more credence to my argument about the Anarchy route foreshadowing from a year ago, consider the fact that Dagda’s Theme is a remix of The White’s Theme.

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To all readers who follow the Abrahamic faiths, please read your holy book

For the purposes of this post, I’d like to declare a challenge to anyone who follows the Abrahamic faiths, or any religious faith in general, but mainly those who follow the Abrahamic faith traditions.

I have three things I’d like to say, consider each of the following seriously:

First: Assume any religion is true. Just any. Every other religion is thereby false.

For example, in the book I am currently writing, I argue the following: if Judaism is true, then it doesn’t matter however many Christians or Muslims there are in the world or how many Christians or Muslims died for their religious faith. None of it would matter; the history, the sacrifices, the population size, or the culture. It wouldn’t mean anything because Judaism is proven true.

Second: What’s the evidence any of these so-called miracles ever even happened? Nothing. Literally nothing.

Welcome to my worldview when I was just 14 years old. I’m now well into adulthood. I still can’t believe people don’t grow out of that rubbish when they’re adults. I can’t believe there are adults who literally believe in these so-called holy books. It took me awhile to process this, because I was thinking about it in terms of my IQ level compared to theirs.

For awhile, I thought I was the ignorant one and that surely there was some grounding, some small worm of usefulness of some sort, that led people to convince themselves to believe in these poorly written fantasy novels. Instead, I discovered that unlike Hinduism or Buddhism, you’re not allowed to question in Islam or Christianity.

It took me some time to understand how vacuous those beliefs that people had were. The New Atheists were pointing out common sense and the religious couldn’t handle it; so they came up with insults like “angtheists”, “edgelords”, or “Islamaphobia” in order to ignore the actual criticisms.

I don’t understand how others can still live like they do; living with unquestioned obedience to a book they don’t even read based on a personal relationship with a man they don’t know from a time period before they were even born. I don’t understand how people can honestly believe that any of it is associated with “love” while telling you to hate your body, the physical world, and seeing “sin” in your own children. I don’t understand any of you, and I don’t think I ever want to.

If you believe anything I said was bigoted, well then . . .

Third, Here is a proposal for you all:

If you truly believe I’m wrong, then I challenge you to read your holy book from beginning to end. No scholars, no community advice, and no sparknotes. You are choosing this book to live by and define your entire life; you should consider spending at least an hour a day reading the holy book from beginning to end, finishing it, and having your own thoughts on it. Not for me, not for your immediate community, but just for yourself. Seriously consider this proposal, don’t just live under a system because your family, community, or even country say it is the literal word of a God. Decide on your own terms whether you believe in it and believe it is good for you to live by it after reading through all of it. If you’re willing to place such strong faith and argue in favor of it, you should be willing to read the entirety of your holy book. What would you have to lose besides becoming more informed, if I am so wrong about my beliefs about your book?

Just. Read. It. All.

For Twitter: harassment of US Muslim women is fine, but criticizing Islamic despots for war crimes that kill children is “offensive” to a religion

 

On Twitter, I’m currently locked out for a week for posting this news article to what seems to have inadvertently been some official in the Saudi government who commented on the Foreign Policy article like I did. Before that, I had notified Twitter of these tweets:

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Here was Twitter’s final verdict:

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Now, I would be completely okay with this, if not for the fact I got banned for a week for posting this article:

I posted that news article to someone from Saudi Arabia and got banned for it for a week. I’m unsure who it was, but it did seem as if wealthy Saudis or those within the Saudi government were mocking and insulting the tweeted opinion piece by the news organization ForeignPolicy.com. Here’s what Twitter said I was banned for:

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Twitter’s policies in action, folks. Can’t link legitimate news articles to despots or their cohorts to criticize them on a Twitter feed they choose to dive into in order to criticize Foreign Policy analysts of the United States, but if you make offensive stereotypes to any Muslim women in a Western country, then that’s apparently fine with Twitter. Go figure that one out.

Evidently, it’s just a drop in the ocean of a long list of Twitter’s failings to curb abuse based on their own rules.

If anyone is curious, this was the article that launched the Twitter feud.

 

 

Was Atlus Criticizing Islam in the Shin Megami Tensei IV/IV Apocalypse Duology?

Fair Warning: This post contains Massive Spoilers for Shin Megami Tensei IV, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Devil Survivor 2, and links to spoilers for Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Read at your own peril.

For an Update On This Critique: Click Here

Over the course of my researching the major religious faiths that I am critiquing in the book that I am currently writing, I’ve grown to see more similarities and references in Shin Megami Tensei that I’ve come to appreciate. I’ve often been called foolish for such interest because of this prevailing idea that video games can’t be critiqued, but one of the main failures of these arguments is that Atlus itself encourages these deep insights to learn more about various religious mythos and stories. If they didn’t care, they would be more like the Final Fantasy series, placing names for characters with no reference to the original source material. Atlus goes so far as to provide a codex in every game to learn more about these myths and specific deities. Yet, it seems to me that a certain subset of fans just no longer have interest. It’s a shame. This is actually a relatively new phenomena. In fact, eight years ago, my interest in critically examining Atlus video games was spurred by the old Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne community that I had happily taken part in for several years. I had actually known about Nocturne since 2006, but got in incredibly late around 2009 after the utter fail that was Persona 4 on the PS2. I remember being able to share this experience with two close friends that I met online at the time, both of whom I’ve lost touch with. It seems as if, like always, life just withers away from you before you realize it and all you’re left with is the fond memories. It seems like some old fans are only interested in hating on Atlus based off wildly speculative conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact. Any attempt at disputing anything, point by point, through critical examination is simply labeled being an “asshole” as it seems most of these so-called fans aren’t interested in reading anything positive like the other older fans were. If they are, they certainly aren’t vocal or perhaps they’ve moved to Youtube, but it seems peculiar that Persona 5 gets deserved praise for themes, but Shin Megami Tensei, which places far more emphasis on themes in general, garners almost no interest at all. Oh well, perhaps in another 8 years, or perhaps there is a silent majority. On the more positive side for me, there is hardly a day where the second Thematic Essay on Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse doesn’t get clicks; but regardless, I’ve only ever actually posted material to share my love for video game themes. It’s just a shame that the community that was so open and happy with spontaneously finding new references and themes no longer seems so, unless it’s to throw contempt towards Atlus for make-believe reasons. It got so bad, even Polygon joined in to shovel contempt. I think, in all honesty, it shows the stupidity of Western culture, especially US culture, more than it did anything else. It’s like every time anybody has anything positive to say, people just want to kill it or mock it due to their Christian ethics.

So, after looking into more of the contents of Islam and listening to almost all of the lengthy panels by Ex-Muslims of North America, I’ve come upon striking similarities of Islam’s theology and the depictions of Law in Shin Megami Tensei IV and IV Apocalypse. Previously, I was under the impression that there were only tertiary connections such as the Islamic angel of death, Azrael, being a main story mission in Apocalypse and an extra boss fight when going back to Blasted Tokyo in Shin Megami Tensei IV. Back in 2013, I admittedly didn’t see anything particularly different about Law that stood out, but I noticed some odd behavior that didn’t fit with Law’s depiction from previous games. An acquaintance of mine on reddit, by the user name bunkerman or “Beadman” as he likes to be called, continually argued that it was Atlus’s contempt for Utilitarian ethics and that this was proven by pointing out Isabeau being killed for manga in the Law alignment of Shin Megami Tensei IV. I didn’t have an argument against it, but when asking for confirmation of how he was so sure that Law was depicting Utilitarian ethics, he pointed to Devil Survivor 2’s late-game conversation. Now, while I think there is merit in spotting Utilitarian ethics in Devil Survivor 2, considering the two main antagonists offer straightforward themes of Meritocracy against Socialism, I doubted that it fit Shin Megami Tensei IV’s narrative. There was also two severe problems with it, which nobody seemed keen on addressing and instead repeatedly insulted me with ad hominem on the reddit forum of MegaTen. Chiefly, in the Three Essays on Religion, John Stuart Mill quotes his co-founder in Utilitarianism stating that Utilitarianism can’t be used with any religion. Mill, a noted feminist, would have also been against disadvantaging people’s personal liberty. While Utilitarianism fit with Devil Survivor 2, it seemed like an odd choice for Shin Megami Tensei IV’s Law to be Utilitarian ethics. Many people in the MegaTen Reddit community seemed to throw contempt upon Atlus for “depicting Utilitarian ethics poorly” but, why didn’t this simply lower their confidence that Law in Shin Megami Tensei IV had anything to do with Utilitarian ethics? The assumption was theirs and the arguments about Atlus “depicting it poorly” could more readily be attributed to Atlus depicting something else entirely. Rationally speaking, especially if there is so many gaps, you should be less willing to place confidence in a belief.

Of course, Eirikrjs, a person I use to have respect for back when he was actually a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series and provided rather fascinating translations and pointing out cultural themes, went off the deep end with a ridiculous theory that he tries to claim makes Atlus anti-Semitic. Yes, really. When I point out, point-by-point, the massive flaws in his assertions, I’m simply labeled a bigot and an idiot by his fans and the MegaTen Reddit community, who then go on and on proclaiming how stupid I am and when I retort with any sort of comment, I am labeled either overly sensitive or stupid. Admittedly, it isn’t all bad though, since attempts at pushing Eirikrjs’s specious ideas has led to comical results in which other people who, like myself, have a fascination for mythos can point out the thoroughgoing flaws. And then of course, follows a torrent of racist expletives thrown my way by the MegaTen Reddit community, followed by insinuations that any complaints by me are “proof” that I’m overly sensitive. Evidently, I’m suppose to just quietly take their racist abuse like a model minority and have no right to call them out on it, even when the process goes on for several months and the so-called “trolling” starts being hurled at my Reddit message box. To be honest, I expected this sort of stupidity from the Final Fantasy crowd from ye olde Gamefaqs, but it seems like the “newer generation of fans” from 4Chan have become even worse than 4Chan. This is after an incident where a former pen pal of mine called the police because someone from this Law-aligned community decided the willful sharing of child porn was acceptable within their community. In case the forum is deleted, here is what I am referring to. When I tried to civilly address this, they shouted me down with the typical insults and treated me with scorn. Unfortunately, I deleted the topic awhile back. If you need any more proof that this community has severe problems, look no further than the comments I received regarding a mousepad that I mentioned my sister got me. Does that strike you as a community of decent human beings? I was even accused of not having a sister because I’m a retard or something. Yes, you read that sentence right. Yes, I’m just as confused as you are by what that could even mean. I can only infer that these people either lacked or never developed any decent social skills among even their families and don’t have any idea what having a sibling who is female is like and attribute it to the garbage tropes currently running in the Anime industry. However, even that is bizarre, as it means that these people don’t understand social etiquette at all. The only funny part about them is that they actively try to use the internet as an excuse for their stupidity and abusive behavior. The internet is a tool, it doesn’t give anyone the right to hurl torrents of abuse. You may have the Free Speech to do so, but likewise, people have the Free Speech to call you out on your behavior.

Notwithstanding, Eirikjrs and Beadman’s claims don’t seem to have any meaningful support when you judge by the evidence in the games. Eirikjrs is premised on the idea of Judeo-Christian lore being strictly followed and no real basis for any JJCAT connection apart from taking interview statements out of context and ignoring portions like YHVH speaking the Sermon on the Mount, to argue there is anti-Semitism even when the evidence has glaring flaws that contradict him. I made an effort to counter each of his points and he never once attempts to answer me. He’s now decided to simply delete my comments, so oh well. Beadman uses Devil Survivor 2 and Shin Megami Tensei 1-2 as go-to references, but there is no evidence Utilitarianism was ever used in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne apart from the True Demon Ending, even grant this it’s still a tenuous connection at best, and the TDE isn’t Law alignment. There simply isn’t any evidence in Shin Megami Tensei IV or Apocalypse that Utilitarian theory was ever referenced as a theme. Essentially, both are making suppositions and when the evidence contradicts their preconceived suppositions, they argue the games are portraying it wrong instead of checking where the evidence leads. Nietzschean philosophy has been used by Atlus since 2006 with Nocturne Maniax. In fact, it was Sam Hatting’s blog post that inspired me to write since I had previously believed that doing such was silly before then. Hatting based his assertions on the evidence and the Nietzschean concepts are there. Of course, they’re more glaring in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final /Apocalypse as I mentioned in Part II of my analysis on Shin Megami Tensei: Apocalypse. However, I didn’t pay much attention to Law, having assumed that it really was one of the biggest mess-ups when compared to the previous iterations due to the negativity pervading the MegaTen Reddit community, but I’ve come across evidence to doubt that.

I don’t want to overstate this case; the evidence being presented seems circumstantial at worst and valid to an extent at best. Nevertheless, it’s better than specious reasoning by Eirikjrs and misapplied critiques of Devil Survivor imposed upon the IV-A Duology by Beadman. I must emphasize that I will completely admit to being wrong, if the evidence contradicts me. Every person is a fallible human being. I don’t have as much confidence with this one, but I would love the constructive feedback. I doubt I’ll get any meaningful responses though, since most people elect to simply call me crazy from the present MegaTen community.

When researching various theologies for a book I am working on, I re-checked the material on Islam and looked more into Islamic Eschatology. I had previously entertained the notion of Nanashi from Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse perhaps having been influenced by Islamic theology, but I felt that any connections were tenuous at best. However, upon reading Islam’s version of Judgment Day, looking up precisely which Angel was a Messenger for the Islamic Prophet Mohammad, and looking up its description of Heaven; I realized there were far more connections than could be considered coincidental. In fact, the ridicule over Isabeau being killed for manga began to make far more sense once you realize Atlus wasn’t critiquing Judeo-Christian lore at all. It was Islam, modern Islam and ancient Islam, that Atlus was focused on in their critique. The assumption by Eirikjrs and Beadman about it being Judeo-Christian lore is what the problem was. Islam is also an Abrahamic faith and Atlus had already criticized Judeo-Christian lore in Shin Megami Tensei I and Shin Megami Tensei II. The new Angel designs, Mikado’s monarchy, and the desire to go back to an ancient time period were seen as Atlus bashing Western culture. However, the assumption was the fault of the well-known members of the fanbase, and not Atlus. People might be quick to point out the use of the English language is mystical, the Medieval designs of Mikado, and so forth. But, that fails to account for two crucial problems. First, Atlus would have put their own lives at risk and potentially the lives of people working for Atlus overseas for criticizing Islam directly in the real world. Second, the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado seems like a blending of several different cultures and criticizing what seems to be the Imperialistic past of all of them. Europe from the dress style and language, Japan itself since the warriors are the Blessed Samurai, and Islam from its Monarchy and the Monastery. Nevertheless, there’s more emphasis on Islam than the others, based upon the evidence of themes in both Shin Megami Tensei IV and Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse / Final.

I’m currently writing it, and I will try to provide Beadman’s objections, because they’re very powerful objections to this argument and I find that they’re incredibly valid in their reasoning. Beadman’s thesis is essentially that Atlus was utilizing Greek and Dead Sea Scroll stories of Gnostic lore; some of which was an explicit representation of those ancient stories to blend with Judeo-Christian lore. Beadman believes these were literalist depictions to show the honest consequences of such depictions as far as Judeo-Christian utilitarianism (even if, such an idea is explicitly against Utilitarian theory according to both its founders). Nevertheless, I think Islam was a more dominant theme than he’s willing to admit. To what extent, I don’t know, but it became more pronounced and much of Law is shockingly explicit in depicting Islam. Not Utilitarianism or Judeo-Christian lore, per se. Instead, it was purely Islam that Atlus was censuring with perhaps some Judeo-Christian overlap for areas in which Islam is found wanting in explanations. The Eastern Kingdom of Mikado is a very literalist depiction of an Islamic society and its failings. YHVH’s Universe is – to my genuine shock – an explicit depiction of Sufism’s theological views on Islamic heaven (Jannah). That can’t be understated; it’s a literalist view of Islamic heaven under Sufism from the angels swarming every inch of the dungeon, to Walter and Jonathan’s ghosts and their subsequent transformation upon gaining their wishes, the teleportation doorways throughout the dungeons, and the three doors that block you from a boundary in which YHVH inhabits. Even the stars, galaxies, and the radiant light from beyond the boundary of YHVH’s throne are all an allegory for Sufi heaven. Atlus’s attention to detail is quite impressive. The only thing lacking is the 72 wives, it seems Atlus made it less stupid than the actual theology of Islam. To be blunt, a lot of Islam’s theology is utterly ridiculous, which is why, even when I suspected there was some value to this critique, I doubted it because of how stupid much of Islamic theology actually is.

One thing I’d like to stress, when I made the two other critiques and referenced Nietzschean philosophy, I was more confident in them because much of the allusions, the endings themselves, and the themes all fit and were consistent. They were consistent to the extent that I expected certain events to happen . . . and they did based on the foreshadowing that I had picked-up on. A lot of it was incredibly consistent with my expectations. What I didn’t get was why Akira was so important in the first place when he was a regular human or why Atlus had said that he was always meant to form the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado in some variation as his karmic destiny. And now, thanks to my research for my book, I think I know why . . . and to give you further credence as to where my research into this has led me:

The name Asahi is an anagram for Aisha.

For those who don’t know, Aisha is the beloved 9-year old wife of the pedophile Prophet Mohammad. Although it has some variation, Aisha is the most popularized form. It seems Atlus made a more open-ended reference to Asahi being a sister because the actual theology supports pedophilia and Atlus actually has morals unlike Islam’s pedophile Prophet. As you can tell from the featured image, Akira is most likely Shin Megami Tensei IV and Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse‘s depiction of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed.

If you have problems with this topic due specifically to the religious content, then please click here and read this first.