Religion and nationalism

Religion has often been used to push nationalist goals and it’s true of all the major religions. Two of the latest examples are in India

More than 4 million people in India, mostly Muslims, are at risk of being declared foreign migrants as the government pushes a hard-line Hindu nationalist agenda that has challenged the country’s pluralist traditions and aims to redefine what it means to be Indian.
The hunt for migrants is unfolding in Assam, a poor, hilly state near the borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Many of the people whose citizenship is now being questioned were born in India and have enjoyed all the rights of citizens, such as voting in elections.
State authorities are rapidly expanding foreigner tribunals and planning to build huge new detention camps. Hundreds of people have been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign migrant — including a Muslim veteran of the Indian army. Local activists and lawyers say the pain of being left off a preliminary list of citizens and the prospect of being thrown into jail have driven dozens to suicide.

and Myanmar

Chu May Paing, a Theravada Buddhist, says that the Rohingya genocide is a symptom of a broader underlying issue. Ashley Aye Aye Dun, founder of Saddha: Buddhists for Peace, a Burmese American Theravada-influenced interfaith network, adds that “ethnic minorities such as the Rakhine, Shan, Karen, Mon, Kachin, and others have also endured violent, state-sanctioned campaigns of persecution since independence.” Paing and Dun point out that nationalist extremism in Myanmar is based on an in/out group dynamic with both ethnic and religious elements. In addition to the Rohingya, there are many other ethnic–religious minorities in Myanmar, which are fundamentally excluded from Myanmar’s core identity, which revolves around the Bamar ethnicity and Buddhist culture. These minorities face challenges accessing education, employment, and public services and gaining citizenship.

This was one of the genius elements of the US Constituion–separate the government and religion. When a country declares a state religion, the religion becomes intertwined with the government often to the detriment of both. Most major religions preach peace, but you can see here how the state uses the religion to pervert that.

Empathy? What’s that?

How can anyone be this little empathy:

Trump himself finished the day claiming success. “We had an amazing day,” he told reporters in El Paso. Of his earlier stop in Dayton, he said: “The love, the respect for the office of the presidency — I wish you could have been in there to see it.”

What kind of person talks about having an ‘amazing’ day after visiting the wounded after a massacre? What type of person regales reporters about the respect shown to them by those who were wounded? Forget about all the other stuff he tweeted these past few days, this is all you need to know about Trump to know what an awful person he is.

Revere Beach sand sculptures

The annual Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival was this past weekend, here are the sculptures:

I guess it’s good that Trump doesn’t want to wipe Afghanistan off the face of the map

This is more than a touch crazy:

“I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in — literally in ten days. And I don’t want to do — I don’t want to go that route,” Trump said.

I don’t think Trump knows what winning a war means in this situation. The government of Afghanistan is our ally, so destroying Afghanistan would not be a win. If you listen to the video you see him say: “If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.” He then asks “does that make sense?” and follows with the quote above. This is why I try not to listen to him much, I want to scream at him, no, of course it doesn’t make sense. You’re an idiot.

Wait, economist errors help the rich? Shocking.

Jared Bernstein notices that a few economic beliefs are wrong:

The natural rate of unemployment that AOC questioned is one such idea (more on that below). There are three others worth singling out:

  • that globalization is a win-win proposition for all, an idea that has deservedly taken a battering in recent years;
  • that federal budget deficits “crowd out” private investments; and
  • that the minimum wage will only have negative effects on jobs and workers.

Economists and policymakers have gotten these ideas wrong for decades, at great cost to the public. Especially hard hit have been the most economically vulnerable, and these mistakes can certainly be blamed for the rise of inequality. It’s time we moved on from them.

He also notes the obvious:

Pegging the “natural rate” too high, ignoring the harm from exposure to international competition, austere budget policy, low and stagnant minimum wages — all of these misunderstood economic relationships have one thing in common.

In every case, the costs fall on the vulnerable: people who depend on full employment to get ahead; blue-collar production workers and communities built around factories; families who suffer from austerity-induced weak recoveries and under-funded safety nets, and who depend on a living wage to make ends meet. These groups are the casualties of faulty economics.

In contrast, the benefits in every case accrue to the wealthy: highly educated workers largely insulated from slack labor markets, executives of outsourcing corporations, the beneficiaries of revenue-losing tax cuts that allegedly require austere budgets, and employers of low-wage workers.

This is old-fashioned Political Correctness: economists, politicians, and many others say they believe certain things not because they’re true but because saying it is beneficial to them.

Trump defines what he means by the best

I think President Trump is trying to be funny::

‘‘We want the cleanest air, we want crystal clear water. And that’s what we’re doing,’’ he said. ‘‘These are incredible goals that everyone in this country can rally behind, and they are rallying behind.’’

This is so obviously a lie, it’s hard to know where to start. Instead look at part of a claim that Trump has repeated:

President Donald Trump touted the United States’ environmental health during a speech in coal country.

“I want clean air. I want crystal clean water. And we’ve got it. We’ve got the cleanest country in the planet right now,” Trump said in an Aug. 21 rally in Charleston, W.Va. “There’s nobody cleaner than us, and it’s getting better and better.”


President Trump claimed during his campaign launch on Tuesday night that the United States has “among the cleanest and sharpest” air and water on Earth.

“Something I want to make clear to the media: We have among the cleanest and sharpest — crystal clean, you’ve heard me say, I want crystal clean — air and water anywhere on Earth,” Trump said during his rally in Florida on Tuesday.

“We are creating a future of American energy independence, and yet our air and water are the cleanest they’ve ever been by far,” Trump continued, referring to the fact that the country recently emerged as the leading global producer of oil and natural gas under his administration.

Now go back to the original article:

These moves come as federal data suggests that US air quality is worsening and its overall greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise. The number of unhealthy days for ozone and soot pollution reached 799 in 2018 and 721 in 2017, according to EPA data, the highest levels they’ve hit since 2012. The nation’s carbon dioxide emissions increased more than 3 percent last year, according to the federal government, their biggest increase since 2010.

The Health Effects Institute’s State of Global Air 2019 report shows the US ranks 123rd out of 195 nations when it comes to smog, or ozone pollution. Dan Greenbaum, the institute’s president, said in an interview that vehicle travel, electricity use, and industrial activity all contribute to America’s high ozone levels.

Trump considers 123rd out of 195 to be the best, remember that whenever he talks about how great something that he’s done is.

America and asylum

There’s been a big debate about whether the detention camps for immigrants in the US should be called concentration camps. Let me instead look at another comparison, the MS St. Louis. If you look at any article about those seeking asylum in the US you will find people vehemently arguing that they shouldn’t be allowed in the US. This is the same argument from the time of the St. Louis, so it’s good to remember what happened there:

The St. Louis set sail from Hamburg to Cuba on May 13, 1939. The vessel under command of Captain Gustav Schröder was carrying 937 passengers, most of them Jewish refugees[3][4] seeking asylum from Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany.

After the ship had been in the harbor for five days, only 28 passengers were allowed to disembark in Cuba.

Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, advised Roosevelt not to accept the Jews. Captain Schröder considered running aground along the coast to allow the refugees to escape but, acting on Cordell Hull’s instructions, US Coast Guard vessels shadowed the ship and prevented such action.

After St. Louis was turned away from the United States, a group of academics and clergy in Canada tried to persuade Canada’s Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, to provide sanctuary to the passengers. The ship could reach Halifax, Nova Scotia in two days. The director of Canada’s Immigration Branch, Frederick Blair, was hostile to Jewish immigration and persuaded the prime minister on June 9 not to intervene.

Research tracing each passenger has determined that 254 of those who returned to continental Europe were murdered during the Holocaust.

This was not an isolated incident, there was a similar argument, but a much better outcome, with the SS Quanza:

After a difficult crossing that included a hurricane, the ship arrived in New York City on 19 August. 196 passengers disembarked, 66 of whom were American citizens. The remaining 121 passengers were denied entry, including nearly all of the Jewish passengers. Quanza proceeded to Veracruz, Mexico, where it arrived on 30 August. Only 35 passengers were allowed to disembark, leaving 86 on board, mostly Belgian Jews.

When First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was informed by Jewish-American associations of the situation, she appealed to her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who dispatched State Department official Patrick Murphy Malin to investigate the passengers’ status. Malin designated all 86 as political refugees and issued them visas, though six chose voluntarily to return to Europe.

Of course this outcome was not good for some:

Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long, who was nominally in charge of refugee issues, was enraged by the granting of visas to the Quanza refugees and insisted that it must not occur again. Long renewed his efforts to block immigration, and by mid-1941, almost no war refugees were allowed into the US.

Breckenridge Long worked very hard to keep them out:

Long came to believe that he was under constant attack from what he termed radicals and the Jewish press for his stance on strict immigration controls mandated by the immigration laws in force at the time. In an intra-department memo he circulated in June 1940 Long wrote: “We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various administrative devices which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas.”[3][4]

Ultimately, the effect of the immigration policies set by Long’s department was that, during American involvement in the war, ninety percent of the quota places available to immigrants from countries under German and Italian control were never filled. If they had been, an additional 190,000 people could have escaped the atrocities being committed by the Nazis.

Later governments have apologized for the actions regarding the MS St Louis and the refusal of the US to allow more refugees trying to escape from the Nazis, but it seems a lot of people support similar measures now.

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