The elephant in the room

… the origin of modern terror and crumbling Western values – Published on Intrepid Report, by John Chuckman, Jan 28, 2015.

… Have Islamic radicals always existed? Yes, we have records through the history of British and French empire-building of strange and fearsome groups. It appears every large religion has a spectrum of believers, always including at one end of the spectrum extreme fundamentalists. They are not a new phenomenon anywhere, so why has one group of them, in the sands of the Middle East, become part of our everyday awareness?  

It is also nothing new that young men become hot-blooded and disturbed over what they regard as attacks upon their kind. Western society’s record of crusades, religious wars, colonial wars, and revolts, a total likely having no equal in the histories of the world’s peoples, offers countless examples of young men being angered by this or that circumstance and joining up or running off to fight.

George W. Bush told us today’s terrorists hate our freedom and democratic values, but like virtually every utterance of George W. Bush, that one was fatuous, explaining nothing. Nevertheless, his is the explanation pounded into public consciousness because governments and the corporate press never stop repeating versions of it, the Charlie Hebdo affair and its theatrical posturing over free speech being only the latest. Theatrical? Yes, when we know perfectly well that most of those who marched at the front of the parade in Paris are anything but friends of free speech.

All backward peoples are uncomfortable with certain Western values, that being the nature of backwardness, and backwardness is a defining characteristic of all fundamentalist religious groups—Hasidic or ultra-Orthodox Jews, Mennonites, Roman Catholic Cardinals, cloistered nuns, Sikhs, and many others—who typically choose modes of dress, rules to obey, and even foods to eat having little or no relationship with the contemporary world and science. Of course, that is their right so long as they are peaceful and law-abiding … //

… Our world has more backward people than most of us can imagine. The news does not feature their extremes and savageries because it serves no political purpose. In Africa, for example, we find practices and beliefs utterly repellent to modern minds: the practice of senior village men raping young girls as an accepted right, the genital mutilation of 3 million girls annually (an African, not an Islamic, practice), the hunting down and butchering such “strange” people as albinos, their parts to be eaten as medicine, and many others.

In India, a country well on its way to becoming modern yet one with a huge backward population, we have practices such as marrying off mere girls to old men rich enough to pay dowries to poor parents. At one stroke this enriches the parents and relieves them of the burden of a child, a female child too, always viewed less favorably. The practice generates a large population of widows when the old husbands of girls married at, say, twelve die. These women are then condemned to entire lives as widows, never allowed to remarry, required to dress and eat in certain ways, and basically shunned to live in squalid equivalents of old folks homes., living entirely meaningless lives.

India also has the practice of “bride burning” where new brides who are deemed unacceptable for various reasons become the prey of the groom’s family, literally being burned alive. There are many other barbarities in that society too, including “honor killing” and young women who are made inmates in certain temples to serve as glorified prostitutes … //

… (full text).

(John Chuckman is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He has many interests and is a lifelong student of history. He writes with a passionate desire for honesty, the rule of reason, and concern for human decency. John regards it as a badge of honor to have left the United States as a poor young man from the South Side of Chicago when the country embarked on the pointless murder of something like 3 million Vietnamese in their own land because they happened to embrace the wrong economic loyalties … // … His first book has just been published, The Decline of the American Empire and the Rise of China as a Global Power, published by Constable and Robinson, London. Contact him at


Follow your convictions – this could be the end of the politics of fear, on The Guardian, by George Monbiot, Jan 28, 2015: Syriza, Podemos, the SNP: the neoliberal consensus is collapsing. Forget tactical considerations in May and vote Green for a genuine alternative;

More than 1m people in UK may have been wrongly diagnosed with asthma, on The Guardian, by Press Association, Jan 28, 2015: Medicines watchdog says up to 30% of the 4.1m people treated for asthma in UK show no ‘clear evidence’ of having condition;

4 beheaded in Saudi Arabia less than a week into King Salman’s rule, on Russia Today RT, Jan 28, 2015;

Tax Haven USA, the Vortex-Shaped Hole in Global Financial Transparency, on naked capitalism, by Yves Dmith, Jan 27, 2015;

Why (Almost) Everyone Got Snowpocalypse Wrong, on AlterNet, by Cliff Weathers, Jan 27, 2015: a high-tech weather prediction model said New York wouldn’t get much snowfall. So why didn’t we know about it?

Kiev used barrier squads to prevent troops from retreating – E. Ukraine militia, on Russia Today RT, Jan 27, 2015;

The paradox of Iran’s war on drugs and its progressive treatment of addiction, on Raw Story, Jan 27, 2015;

Bob Goodwin: Why Deflated Footballs are a Big Problem for America, on naked capitalism, by Yves Smith, Jan 27, 2015: We thought we’d take advantage of this being a snow day for many readers and feature a post that looks off topic but actually relates to Naked Capitalism themes;

Billionaires Row, a look at London’s abandoned $550 million USD Mansions, on MyFirstClassLife;

The Belgium Question: Why Is a Small Country Producing So Many Jihadists? on Spiegel Online International, by Katrin Kuntz and Gregor Peter Schmitz, Jan 27, 2015 (Photo Gallery): Relative to the size of its population, no other country in Europe sends as many young jihadists to Syria as Belgium does. But why? Some say one problem lies with the fractured nature of the country itself;

Four in 10 American children live in low-income families, new report shows, on, Jan 21, 2015;

US: LATI students offer free income tax preparation, on The Republic Opinion, Watertown, South Dakota, Jan 21, 2015;

Ending Poverty in America, on Kyle Cupp, by blog owner, Jan 21, 2015;

State Of The Union 2015: 5 Basic Things To Know About Obama’s Free Community College Proposal, on International Business Times, by Julia Glum, Jan 20, 2015;

US: Tax filing season has begun, and early filing offers advantages, on Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Jan 20, 2015;

Déscolarisation de la société, 62.36 min, dans AgoraVox, Bruxelles, le 19 janvier 2015; aussi dans YouTube, mise en ligne par cause toujours, le 19 janvier 2015;

Retour sur terre : le plan d’urgence de Syriza en cas de victoire électorale, dans, le 19 janvier 2015;

Adam Cowden: Moving forward after Ferguson and Staten Island, on BIEN, Jan 19, 2015;

US: Free Income Tax Form Preparation Assistance, on MI international, Las Vegas, Jan 19, 2015;

Accounting Simplified for You Now Offers Income Tax Basic Training Course on Udemy, on, Jan 19, 2015;

Afghanistan’s child brides, 10.00 min, uploaded by The Economist, August 14, 2009: EconomistMagazine videos: Stephanie Sinclair, a photographer, spent time from 2003 onwards with child brides in Afghanistan. Girls as young as 8 are married off to settle debts and disputes or sold to raise money.

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