Sunday, January 11, 2009

15 Ṭeveth 5769: International Thank You Day

Greetings.

Worthy causes of the day: “Reject Admiral Blair for Director of National Intelligence because of East Timor massacres”, “Obama's plan under attack”, “Drop Opposition to Arms Trade Treaty”, “Help Wildlife Affected by Global Warming”, and “Open Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research”. I would also like to encourage everyone who can to give blood. (I did on Thursday.) The Red Cross is suffering from a shortage this time of year and can use every pint it can get. Remember: giving blood may be a pain in the arm, but it is a much easier and safer way to save a life than running into a burning building. Give blood and be a hero.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Big old lobster avoids date with NYC dinner plate” and “PETA: Spearfish school should be called Sea Kitten”: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have some strange priorities. That first article discusses PETA’s efforts to save a lobster. I have to wonder why they do not put their efforts into saving creatures on the mental level which are slaughtered in large numbers by humans with impunity: insects. Why lobsters should be more worthy of saving than cockroaches, ants, and termites is beyond me. That second article notes an attempt by PETA to get people to refer to fish as “sea kittens” in a blatant propaganda move to make people eat less fish, trying to transfer feelings about one animal to another. This does not really address the question about whether it is moral to eat either kittens or fish. I find the idea of eating locusts repugnant, despite the fact that my religion actually permits it, because I have been raised in a culture in which insects are normally not considered food; despite this learned disgust, I have no reason to impugn the righteousness of those who do eat locusts. Similarly, feelings of disgust or sentimentality have no place in discussing the question whether it is moral to eat any living organism unless one bases one’s moral system on disgust or sentimentality. Note also that if this propaganda stunt actually works (which is doubtful), one has to ask why it could not potentially backfire, with people transferring their feelings about fish to kittens and feeling indifferent about their suffering, death, and consumption.
  2. “Voodoo priests pray for Israel-Palestinian peace”: I appreciate Voodoo priests wanting the Israeli-Arab War to end and their hatred of all war. However, I am not clear that they actually understand what the situation actually is. As it is written:
    "All wars, which we deplore, have their origin for the most part in religious misunderstandings," said Dah Aligbonon.
    First of all, I am not clear on whether this is true of war in general; if anyone with expertise in history is reading this, please fill me in. Secondly, I do not believe religious misunderstanding is the cause of the Arab-Israeli War. Israel is part of the war because it has no choice; it has to either defend itself or be destroyed. Lack of understanding Islam probably contribute to certain political blunders, but they are not the cause of the war. The Arab involvement in the war has nothing to do with Arabs misunderstanding Judaism. Even if Arabs in general displayed any real understanding of what Judaism is, that would make no difference, and that is because this war is about how the Arabs understand Islam. According to Islam, everyone is supposed to either be a Muslim or kowtow to Muslims. The State of Israel is an abomination to Islam because according to Islam, non-Muslims are not supposed to have dominion anywhere, certainly not without acknowledging the supremacy of Islam; thus Israel’s continued existence as an independent non-Muslim state in the heart of the Muslim world is a source of dishonor to serious Muslims. It is not merely lack of understanding Judaism that is irrelevant to the Arabs, but even the fact that Israelis are mostly Jews is irrelevant.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “How to Start Your Own Country”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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