Daily Archives: August 26, 2021

8 Major Worldviews (Part 1) | CrossExamined.org by Brian …

Posted: August 26, 2021 at 3:30 am

By: Brian Chilton

Before the website transferred from pastorbrianchilton.wordpress.com to bellatorchristi.com, I had written an article on the major worldviews across the globe. I presented six major worldviews at the time. While I still think the previous article treated the most major of worldviews, I have come to realize after reading Douglas Groothius book, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, that other major worldviews exist that should be discussed and incorporated into the list.[1] So, lets revisit the major worldviews in this article. The goal of the article will be to notify the reader of each belief and will show how Christian theism triumphs. In addition, the Christian apologist will need to understand the starting points that must be taken with each worldview.

The term atheist is taken from the Greek term a meaning no and theos meaning God. Placed together, the term means no God. The atheist, therefore, is one who does not believe in the existence of God. Atheists are often termed naturalists as they only accept the existence of the natural/physical world, thereby rejecting the existence of things like God, spirits, the human soul, angels, and demons. Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss are good examples of atheism.

Atheism holds a problem as it pertains to the immaterial world. Naturalism cannot explain the existence of human consciousness. Even if the consciousness could be shown to derive from material means, naturalism (or materialism) faces a great problem as the human consciousness is a non-material thing. A scanner can see brainwaves, but not mental thoughts and the like. Naturalism holds two additional problems. On the one hand, naturalism cannot answer why anything exists. It has been mathematically demonstrated by the theorem of Borg, Vilenkin, and Guth (i.e., the BVG Theorem) that there cannot be an infinite regress of material worlds. Every material world must have a beginning point. On the other hand, naturalism fails to account for the mounting evidence of near death experiences.[2] Atheism and naturalism hold great problems serving as a cohesive worldview. The Christian apologist will need to demonstrate the reasonability of Gods existence and the means by which naturalism fails.

Agnosticism comes from two terms: a the Greek term meaning no and gnosis the Greek term meaning knowledge. The agnostic does not necessarily reject belief in God. The agnostic claims no knowledge on the issue. There are at least two forms of agnosticism. Atheistic agnostics incline to reject belief in God, but are open to the possibility of Gods existence. The atheistic agnostic claims that it is impossible to know whether God exists or not. Bart Ehrman and Neil deGrasse Tyson are examples of atheistic agnostics.

Theistic agnostics are individuals who are inclined to believe in Gods existence. However, they are doubtful whether individuals can know anything about God. The theistic agnostic may either reject divine revelation altogether and claim that no religion is correct, or the theistic agnostic may reject exclusive revelation and will claim that all religions are correct. When I stumbled into my time of personal doubt, I became more of the theistic agnostic (one who claimed to be spiritual but not religious). The Bahai religion and Morgan Freeman may be considered examples of theistic agnosticism.

The trouble with agnosticism is with divine revelation. If God can truly be shown to exist, then atheistic agnosticism begins to wane. If one can demonstrate that God has revealed himself to humanity (particularly through Jesus of Nazareth), then theistic agnosticism begins to fade. The Christian apologist will need to understand, first, that agnosticism can cover a wide variety of flavors. Second, the Christian apologist will need to describe the evidence for Jesus of Nazareths life, miracles, and resurrection.

Pantheism comes from two Greek terms: pan meaning all and theos meaning God. Pantheism may look quite a bit like panentheism and even theistic agnosticism. However, generally speaking, pantheism is the belief that God is an impersonal force. Buddhism is the greatest example of pantheism. The Star Wars idea of the force is another example of pantheism. Buddhists claim to be agnostic concerning Gods existence. Yet, the Buddhist believes in impersonal forces (i.e., the force behind reincarnation). The goal of such a worldview is to become nothing. In fact, the Buddhist concept of Nirvana means that one has become so enlightened that he or she escapes the wheel of reincarnation and becomes nothing.

The trouble with pantheism is diverse. On the one hand, the pantheist will speak of such forces in such a way that intelligence is necessary. For example, why is there a wheel of reincarnation? Why is it that good behavior elevates one to a higher level and vice versa? On the other hand, pantheists have great trouble in explaining why anything exists at all. Much more could be said on this issue as it pertains to the trouble of pantheism. The Christian apologist will need to describe the internal inconsistencies of pantheism as a starting point as well as note the personal nature of the divine.

Panentheism comes from three Greek terms: pan meaning all, en meaning in, and theos meaning God. Therefore, panentheism is literally defined as all in God. Panentheists hold that God penetrates everything. While the Christian may initially be inclined to agree, one must understand that panentheists believe that everything is God. Thus, the panentheist would agree that Jesus of Nazareth is God. But, the panentheist would also agree that you are God, he is God, everyone is God, and even your kitchen sink is God. The panentheist does not distinguish between the personal God and the physical creation. Hinduism is the greatest example of panentheism.

Panentheism, however, holds issues as it pertains to the world. If the world is God, then why is there so much evil? God is certainly good. So, if everyone is God, then wouldnt everything be perfect? To accept such a claim, one must have a flawed idea of Gods nature. With the panentheist, the Christian apologist will need to begin by teaching the distinction between the personal divine being of God and the physical, material creation that is the world.

We have investigated the first four of the eight major worldviews. In our next article, we will describe the final four: polytheism, dualism, deism, and monotheism/theism.


[1] See Douglas Groothius, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011), 50.

[2] Here, I do not mean heavenly or hellish experiences. I am addressing the scientific verification of such events in this world. For instance, if one were to see something that could not have been otherwise seen after ones death, then this would serve as a verification of the souls survival past death. Soul survival discredits naturalism.

2017. Bellator Christi.

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You shall have no other gods, including ‘trivial’ ones – The B.C. Catholic

Posted: at 3:30 am

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B First Reading: Is 35:4-7 Second Reading: Jas 2:1-5 Gospel Reading: Mk 7:31-37

The theme of this Sundays Readings is Be opened.

In the First Reading, it is the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, etc. In the Second, it is the eyes through which we see our neighbours. In the Gospel Reading, it is the deaf and those who cannot speak.

All the readings appeal to us to open ourselves to the truth. Ephphtha, Jesus said: Be opened.

In our society today, many people think that they are opening themselves to new truths so called by seriously considering the doctrines and practices of other religions, especially Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism.

No. That is a closing of oneself to the truth of Christ in favour of the old beliefs and superstitions that preceded it: Gnosticism, esotericism, astrology, pantheism, etc.

Christ is the perfect image of God the Father. In him, God revealed all he had to tell us about himself. Therefore, says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, anyone now desiring some [new] vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour, but also of offending [God], by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.

During this past year, as I have delivered my course The Catholic Faith in Plain English online, I have become aware of how many people good Catholics think that they can supplement the Catholic faith with Buddhist meditation techniques, etc.

They are like people who think they can supplement the conjugal attentions of their husbands or wives with those of other men or women. No matter how small such a supplement, it constitutes infidelity. A faithful husband does not look outside the marriage for conjugal comfort or benefits. A faithful wife does not invoke support from a third person by criticizing her husband.

God himself described his relationship with his people as a marital covenant, and he compared idolatry to adultery.

It is because of their idolatry that he drove the original inhabitants out of the Promised Land. He warned the Israelites to stay away from them. When they fell into idolatry, He exiled them, too.

You shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind; you shall have no other gods besides me. That is the First Commandment. If we break it, we are unfaithful, regardless of whether we keep the others. Even something as apparently trivial as consulting horoscopes contradicts the honour, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone, says the Catechism.

A Catholic who seeks spirituality outside the Catholic Church is like the unfaithful wife in the Book of Hosea, who wants to see what other men can offer, even if she does not intend to desert her husband.

Adultery is never a sudden, spontaneous, totally unexpected act: it is always preceded by a longer drama of infidelity which includes thoughts, words, and deeds. And the same is true of apostasy from the Catholic faith.

Christ is the Churchs Bridegroom, says the Catechism. It is through [his] Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.

Nevertheless, idolatry remains a constant temptation. People whose understanding of the Catholic faith is weak mistakenly hold that Catholicism does not inspire a profound spirituality, and so they seek elsewhere, says the Vaticans document on the New Age movement.

Many New Age practices seem harmless. Nevertheless, the underlying principles are irreconcilable with Catholic faith. We cannot pick and choose from Catholicism and New Age any more than a faithful wife can pick and choose from her husbands attentions and those of other men.

Let us pray, this Sunday, that we who claim to believe in Christ may come to know the riches he showers on his Church, and thus receive true freedom.

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You shall have no other gods, including 'trivial' ones - The B.C. Catholic

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Even Amid a Crackdown, the Proud Boys Are Still Agitating – The New York Times

Posted: at 3:28 am

  1. Even Amid a Crackdown, the Proud Boys Are Still Agitating  The New York Times
  2. A Proud Boys Leader Who Burned A Black Lives Matter Flag Gets 5 Months In Jail  NPR
  3. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio sentenced to 5 months in prison on weapons and vandalism charges  CBS News
  4. Proud Boys leader Henry 'Enrique' Tarrio sentenced to five months in jail  The Washington Post
  5. Proud Boys Leader Now Says He's Not Proud of His Crimes Mother Jones  Mother Jones
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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Even Amid a Crackdown, the Proud Boys Are Still Agitating - The New York Times

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Proud Boys leader sentenced to more than five months – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Posted: at 3:28 am

By Marshall Cohen and Sara Sidner | CNN

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced Monday to more than five months in jail for burning a churchs Black Lives Matter banner in December and bringing high-capacity rifle magazines to Washington, DC, days before the US Capitol insurrection.

The decision was handed down Monday by Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. of DC Superior Court. Even though Tarrio was not in Washington on the day of the January 6 insurrection, the judge said Tarrios preceding conduct in the nations capital undermined American democracy.

This court must respect the right of any citizen to peacefully assemble, protest, and make his or her views known on issues, Cushenberry said. But Mr. Tarrios conduct in these criminal cases vindicate none of these democratic values. Instead, Mr. Tarrios actions betrayed them.

Tarrio, who has led the far-right extremist organization since 2018, pleaded guilty in July to the two misdemeanors. Federal prosecutors had asked the judge to give Tarrio three months in jail.

The flag-burning incident occurred at the Asbury United Methodist Church, a historically Black church, on December 12, after Tarrio and other Proud Boys attended a pro-Trump rally in Washington that later led to violent clashes. He was arrested when he returned to DC on January 4, shortly before the Capitol insurrection, and was found with two high-capacity magazines that are banned under DCs strict gun control laws.

After his arrest, he was released but ordered to stay out of DC a move that senior Justice Department officials later said was intended to tamp down potential violence on January 6.

In a letter to the judge ahead of sentencing, the churchs senior pastor said the flag-burning incident traumatized many of her congregants and brought back visions of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan (and) cross burnings.

The pastor, the Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, also spoke passionately during Mondays sentencing hearing about the long-term impact of Tarrios actions, condemning them as brazenly racist.

She said Tarrio led a marauding band of angry white men apparently looking for trouble through the streets of DC, adding, in our opinion, this was an act of intimidation and racism.

During the hearing, Tarrio apologized directly to the churchs pastor and said he made a grave mistake by burning the Black Lives Matter banner and later gloating about it on social media. His attorney asked the judge to sentence Tarrio to community service instead of incarceration.

Id like to profusely apologize for my actions what I did was wrong, Tarrio sad.

But the far-right figure also painted himself as a victim of the situation, telling the judge, I have suffered financially, socially, for what Ive done. My familys business has been hit pretty hard. So, what I did doesnt only affect the church. It affects a lot more people, including my family.

The judge later concluded that Tarrios apology wasnt credible and rejected Tarrios claim that he didnt know he was destroying church property, calling it a bald, self-serving assertion.

He could not have cared less about the laws of the District of Columbia, the judge said. He cared about himself and self-promotion His claim of innocent mistake is not credible at all.

The case against Tarrio played out in local DC court and is separate from the sprawling federal investigation into the January 6 insurrection during which dozens of Proud Boys stormed the building and have since been charged with conspiracy and other felonies.

As part of the plea agreement, the Justice Department explicitly said it can bring different (and) additional charges against Tarrio regarding the attack on the Capitol. Its clear from court filings that prosecutors are aggressively investigating the Proud Boys and their actions before, during and after the January 6 riot. But its unclear if Tarrio will ever be charged as part of that probe.

Tarrio criticizes the sentence

In an interview with CNN after the hearing, Tarrio said the punishment was fair but criticized the judge, who at first mistakenly gave Tarrio a longer jail term than is legally allowed on the weapons charge, and was forced to adjust the sentence twice before the proceedings ended.

Im not surprised with the sentence per se. I am surprised by the judge, Tarrio said. I feel like the judge already had his mind made up. At its most basic function, a judge is supposed to know what the person in front of him was charged with. And in my case, he did not.

If I would have known it would have happened like this, I would have gone to trial, he said, predicting that he would have beaten the property destruction charge, even though it was caught on video and he repeatedly and publicly claimed responsibility for the banner-burning.

I learned from this experience, Tarrio said. If anyone thinks putting me in chains silencing me, dehumanizing me will keep me quiet, they are wrong. In fact, I will use my voice even more. Even the people who disagree with me, like Black Lives Matter, see the injustice in the justice system and I hope they keep up the fight because I sure as hell will.

Tarrio told CNN he would turn himself in on September 6.

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Three Days Ahead of Portland Proud Boys Gathering, Practical Details of Police Response Remain a Mystery – Willamette Week

Posted: at 3:28 am

With less than 72 hours before Proud Boys and other far-right groups are slated to converge in downtown Portland for an annual rally that has historically devolved into violent street brawls with local anti-fascists, city officials and the Portland Police Bureau have provided scant details of their planned response.

The Police Bureau is actively planning for the weekend and will have information to share tomorrow, bureau spokesman Lt. Greg Pashley said.

The mayors office, too, declined to immediately provide details about the planned law enforcement response, such as whether Portland police will be joined by other area law enforcement like Oregon State Police and Multnomah County sheriffs deputies.

Tomorrow, however, should hopefully bring clarity: Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell are hosting a press conference Friday afternoon to address the upcoming rally. That press conference follows an 11 am event hosted by Wheeler called Choose Love: A Community Gathering to Denounce Hate and Violence in Portland.

Larger questions also loom about what, exactly, PPBs response will look like now that the Rapid Response Teamtasked with covering mass gatheringsdissolved in June. The team, Portlands riot squad, was often tasked with keeping dueling political groups separate. That said, it is unclear what impact the units dissolution might have: While the 50-or-so RRT officers resigned en masse from the unit, they still remain employed by the Police Bureau.

The upcoming rally cannot be a surprise to local officials. For weeks, far-right groups have been actively posting about it online. And the same event took place on the same day last yearAug. 22.

Portland has regularly been a targetsome say a training groundfor extremists wishing to prove their mettle in street combat. Since 2017, city officials have tried different responsessome effective, others woefully inadequate.

The 2020 event, billed as a No to Marxism in America rally, escalated into violent skirmishes as Portland police, for the most part, stood by. As WW reported last summer, the Police Bureau made no effort to apprehend known Proud Boy Tusitala Tiny Toese, who at the time had an active warrant out for his arrest.

And last September, about a month after last years gathering, law enforcement arrested Alan Swinneyanother Proud Boys memberdue to to his actions at the Aug. 22 protest and another gathering that month.

During the Aug. 22 gathering, Swinney allegedly pointed a loaded revolver at a counterprotester. The 51-year-old, who is still held in the Multnomah County Inverness Jail pending trial, faces charges for assault, unlawful use of tear gas, unlawful use of a weapon, and more.

Last summers clashes occurred in the build-up to the November election, as violent support for President Donald Trump mounted. It culminated in the invasion of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In the aftermath of the failed insurrection, clashes between Proud Boys and anti-fascists have occurred sporadically this summermost recently on the weekend of Aug. 7, around an evangelical Christian worship service in Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

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Three Days Ahead of Portland Proud Boys Gathering, Practical Details of Police Response Remain a Mystery - Willamette Week

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Proud Boy arrested in 6 January riot wants medical release from prison: Let me go home – The Independent

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A member of the far-right Proud Boys street gang is pleading with authorities to release him from jail on health grounds.

Christopher Worrell has been held since April on charges of pepper spraying a police officer during the 6 January riot at the US Capitol. But authorities have twice denied his petitions for pretrial release, arguing his claims that hes not getting cancer treatment for his are misleading.

"I have another court hearing coming up soon, and were hoping the courts are going to see, but, you know, theyre just, theyre mistreating me," the 49-year-old said in a jailhouse phone interview with Newsmax host Greg Kelly on Tuesday. "They promised me treatment way back in April, and yet here I am, still 166 days later with no treatment, so thats our plan and our hope that the courts have a little bit of compassion, let me go home to get some medical urgent medical treatment that I need."

Mr Worrell, who was arrested in March in his East Naples, Florida, home, has non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer, and claims he hasnt gotten proper treatment in jail. He also contracted Covid while in detention, and claims that the cancer leaves him immunocompromised and at higher risk of health problems.

"Given the pandemic and acute danger to Mr Worrell, his continued detention amounts to impermissible pretrial punishment," his attorney, Allen Orenberg, wrote earlier this year. "The Governments interest in securing his appearance at trial does not outweigh his liberty interest in remaining alive and free from harm."

Mr Worrell has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, telling Mr Kelly they were completely false and fabricated.

But courts have twice denied the Proud Boys requests to be released, citing the fact that he didnt wear a mask to the riot itself, as well as noting that he has received cancer treatment while behind bars.

"Contrary to defendants characterizations, the record reflects that he has received attentive medical care for his non-Hodgkins lymphoma, COVID-19, and other ailments while in custody," US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth wrote in June, denying one of the petitions for release.

Authorities have also noted that Unity Healthcare, the healthcare provider inside Washington, DC jails, hasnt noted that Mr Worrells condition is deteriorating, and prosecutors have previously argued that the Proud Boy isnt getting his meds because his doctor wasnt responding to messages from his prison health providers to authorise the treatment.

Prosecutors also argued for his continued detention ahead of trial because he allegedly threatened a witness in the case, posting a message on social media that read, SO WHOMEVER CALLED THE FEDS ON ME REST ASSURED I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WE WILL BE DISCUSSING THIS SOON!!"

Nearly 600 people have been arrested in connection with the 6 January insurrection so far.

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Proud Boy arrested in 6 January riot wants medical release from prison: Let me go home - The Independent

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Trump allies distance themselves from rally for Capitol rioters that’s drawing Proud Boys back to DC – Raw Story

Posted: at 3:28 am

Kavanaugh claimed to be "a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy." Barrett claimed, "I'm just here to apply the law." Needless to say, progressives were not convinced. When Joe Biden was elected, there was even a brief flare-up of discourse about Democrats embracing court-packing to counter the far-right Court with Biden even appointing a commission to study the question.

But it is a truism in mainstream media that progressives are always "overreacting," a truism that persists despite events like the January 6 insurrection, which conclusively proved #resistance folks had a better read on Trump than the "it can't happen here" naysayers. So all it took was the Roberts court issuing a couple of early summer moderate decisions the biggest saving the Affordable Care Act and voila! The Beltway media went full bore scolding the left for supposedly overreacting to the Trumpist court.

"The Supreme Court's Newest Justices Produce Some Unexpected Results," declared the New York Times, with a subheadline gushing how "liberals are often on the winning side."

"The Supreme Court's Surprising Term," read a similar New Yorker headline, with a subheadline promising that "the Court has largely avoided partisanship."

"Supreme Court this session saw strong majorities that did not adhere to the Trump brand or even the agenda of the far right," declared U.S. News & World Report.

"Ideological lines turn out to be more fluid than partisans had imagined when Barrett was named," claimed a headline in the Wall Street Journal.

And so on and so forth and on and on. The media narrative was set: Liberals are hysterical, the Supreme Court is fair, and gosh, let's just stop all this talk about court-packing already!

Now, the heat is off, and it appears the Republican majority on the Supreme Court feels free to do exactly what they were appointed to do: Impose their far-right ideology on an unwilling public and trample all good-faith legal reasoning and precedent to do so.

On Tuesday night, in a shockingly incoherent decision, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling by a Trump-appointed far-right judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, forcing the Biden administration to keep Trump's hateful "remain in Mexico" policy towards refugees applying for political asylum. Biden may be the duly elected president, but it appears this Trump appointee-heavy Republican court still thinks Trump should be setting immigration policy.

It is hard to even measure how radical this decision is. It is a sign that having secured a media narrative of "moderation" the Court feels free to stomp all over legal norms and basic rationality in order to impose a right-wing agenda. As Ian Millhiser at Vox wrote, the decision implies the Biden administration "committed some legal violation when it rescinded a Trump-era immigration policy, but it does not identify what that violation is." So the Biden administration is now being forced into a policy it doesn't want, based on legal reasoning that is not even available to them.

Mark Joseph Stern of Slate tweeted some more points about how radical this is:

While noting the order "was only one paragraph," University of Wyoming law professor Stephen Feldman and author of "Pack the Court!: A Defense of Supreme Court Expansion" told Salon, "the six-to-three political split along conservative-progressive lines is worrisome."

He added: "If one is looking for evidence of political balance and moderation from the conservative Supreme Court justices, including Trump's three nominees, this decision does not provide it."

This decision is a disaster on its own, on two levels.

First is the basic human cost of forcing refugees most of whom have made the long trip from Central America to avoid persecution at the hands of gangs to remain in Mexico, where they are in immediate danger from predatory criminals exploiting their vulnerability. Then there's the bureaucratic disaster for the Biden administration, who is now stuck with being forced to try to talk the Mexican government into agreeing to a Trump policy only put into place in 2019, despite having promised that the policy was changing.

But the implications expand well beyond this immediate decision as well.

It suggests, as the progressive Court skeptics feared, that the Supreme Court's feints towards "moderation" this year were little more than political maneuvering meant to take the wind out of the sails of the pack-the-court crowd. Having accomplished that, the radicals on the Court now feel free to unleash their hardline right-wing views and they aren't going to be constrained by expectations of a good-faith reading of either law or precedent in that mission.

Even in the early summer, there were skeptics of the "moderate" Court narrative. Respected legal analysts Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern at Slate pointed out in June that the Court "chose the very last day of the term to let us know that when the rubber hits the road, partisan politics is what matters," by further gutting the Voting Rights Act and ruling that even more dark money can flow into politics. Law professor Leah Litman at NBC News noted that "several high-profile decisions" were distracting journalists from the real story, which is "several lower-profile decisions featured more traditional partisan divisions and those decisions are likely to be extremely consequential."This radical "remain in Mexico" decision proves the skeptics right.

The most immediate future concern is over abortion rights. In October, the Court will hear arguments about a Mississippi law banning pre-viability abortions, which directly violates Roe v. Wade. The decision will likely be rendered in June 2022. Mississippi has directly asked the Court to overturn Roe. Despite some idiotic hot takes hoping the Roberts court will do the right thing, the odds have always been high that this Court would find some way to uphold the ban, even if they use some shell game legal reasoning that muddies the water enough to avoid the "Roe overturned" headlines that could really hurt Republicans in the 2022 midterms. Now it's even more certain that this Supreme Court feels no compunction about tearing up precedent in order to criminalize abortion.

It appears the Supreme Court is ready to dance with those that brung 'em, giving Trump and the religious right the radical policies they've always wanted. It will only mean tearing up the very idea of legal good faith and defying the will of the voters.

Having secured the misleading "moderate court" narrative, the conservative justices appear to feel free to now go hog wild. The very sloppiness of the "remain in Mexico" decision indicates a court that is done pretending at judicial restraint. They were appointed for one mission and one mission only, to impose a far-right ideology on an unwilling America. After a few head nods in the direction of moderation, it appears the far-right justices are feeling ready to let 'er rip.

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Trump allies distance themselves from rally for Capitol rioters that's drawing Proud Boys back to DC - Raw Story

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Tajikistan`s red line on Taliban: Will not recognise government formed through oppression – WION

Posted: at 3:26 am

In a significant development, Tajikistan has drawn a clear red line on Taliban andthat Dushanbe will not recognise government formed through oppression. The point was made during Tajik President Emomali Rahmon andPakistan Foreign minister SM Qureshi's meeting.

The President said, "Tajikistan will not recognize any other government that is formed in this country through oppression, without taking into account the position of the entire Afghan people, especially all its minorities" and"stressed that Tajiks have a worthy place in the future government of Afghanistan", according to readout on state media Khovar.

During the meeting, the Tajik President pointed that "evidence clearly shows that the Taliban are abandoning their previous promises to form an interim government with the broad participation of other political forces in the country and are preparing to establish an Islamic emirate."


The comments carry weight as Tajikistan shares land border with Afghanistan and is directly impacted by instability in the country. Tajiks are also one of the main ethnicities of Afghanistan, along with Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Hazaras.

"Strongly condemning all forms of lawlessness, murder, looting, and persecution of the Afghan people, especially Tajiks, Uzbeks, and other national minorities,"the President said. "It is necessary to establish an inclusive government with the participation of all national minorities, especially Tajiks in Afghanistan, who make up more than 46% of the population."

Tajikistan has been worried over the developments in Afghanistan, and this has been the main focus during various Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meetings it has hosted. It will host the SCO heads of level meeting next month as the chair of the grouping.

The president explained during the talks with Pakistan FM that, "dangerous situation that has developed in Afghanistan is not only the problem of the Afghan people, but also one of the most pressing regional and global issues" and "Talibans rise to power has further complicated the geopolitical process in the region."

He also warned that international community's "indifference to the current situation in Afghanistan could lead to a protracted civil war."

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Tajikistan`s red line on Taliban: Will not recognise government formed through oppression - WION

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The Taliban want to rule Afghanistan. Are they moderate enough to do it? – Vox.com

Posted: at 3:26 am

The biggest question since the Taliban recaptured Kabul on August 15 has been whether the groups return to power means the same thing for Afghans that it did 25 years ago.

The last time the Taliban controlled all of Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, was marked by brutal oppression, particularly of minorities and women. Their proclivity for violence, which continued throughout their post-9/11 resurgence as an insurgent force, has resulted in civilian massacres, human trafficking, and an environment dictated by fear.

But since announcing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the groups leaders have downplayed that history, saying they have evolved with the times.

In the groups first press conference, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid promised amnesty for Afghans, that women would have rights within Islamic law, and that the groups days of harboring terrorists are over. Mujahid has been astute about optics as well a TV interview with a Taliban official was anchored by a woman journalist.

So which version is more likely to be true? The Taliban government is still in its early days, but experts say there are several indicators that observers can look to the groups willingness to power-share in a government, proactiveness in distributing aid, and treatment of women to suss out how it might rule.

Right now its not just the Talibans history thats in direct contradiction to the moderation they are outwardly projecting, experts say. Its their current behaviors, too including violent crackdowns of protests and door-to-door manhunts for people on their blacklist.

Its a charm offensive on one side and a terrorist offensive on the other side, said Rina Amiri, a senior fellow at New York Universitys Center on International Cooperation.

When the Taliban took over Kabul in 1996, the citys infrastructure was battered and its population of several hundred thousand people, traumatized by a decade of civil war, had no expectation of government services or facilities. The Kabul of today, by contrast, has nearly 4.5 million people, who are used to being able to participate in democracy, demonstrate, receive schooling, access health care, and connect with the rest of the world. To be sure, over the past 20 years, the democratically elected government and the sectors of the economy flush with foreign aid experienced a lot of corruption. But the country did urbanize; the economy did grow.

While the Taliban have recent experience ruling mostly rural provinces, city governance is an entirely different task.

Only [having] experience in shooting guns is not going to work if you are expecting a peacetime environment where you are responsible to provide your people with public services in an orderly way, said Sher Jan Ahmadzai, the director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha. And this is a challenge for the Taliban to lead.

So one of the first things experts are looking at is whether the Taliban can commit to working with former enemies, including members of the deposed democratically elected government, and actually enforce the amnesty policy they claim to support.

Those decisions are still in motion, Ahmadzai said. There has been some level of outreach to former President Hamid Karzai and former Afghan peace delegation leader Abdullah Abdullah, who have sought to be mediators.

Theyre thinking of how to rule, who to bring into the government, and how they can coax previous people from previous governments back into this system, Ahmadzai said.

William Nomikos, a professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis who studies violent extremism and civil wars, said a truly moderate, modernized Taliban would be willing to make concessions in order to effectively run the country.

The real distinguishing mark between a rebel force that takes control but is really trying to be a government is, are they willing to make concessions to former adversaries, Nomikos said. Are they willing to establish a formal power-sharing agreement?

Ahmadzai said that would require incentivizing people to want to work with the Taliban. But so far, they have allegedly targeted some of those who worked with the US. The mere fact that tens of thousands of Afghans are risking their lives to get to Kabul International Airport and onto flights speaks to their fear, at least, that the Talibans ability to work with former enemies is nonexistent.

Government is not done by force, and cannot be done by force, he said. Its going to be a huge challenge for the Taliban. Government is not easy. It is not fun. It is not as easy as destruction.

Another indicator experts plan to follow is monitoring how the Taliban handle Afghanistans emerging food and water scarcity crises.

With foreign governments and NGOs alike pulling aid so as not to empower the Taliban, the group will have to figure out if it wants to provide services that give people the ability to see a doctor and other necessities. And theyll have to do it while navigating a burgeoning economic crisis and a severe drought across the country that is expected to impact farmers and herders ability to provide food.

Estimates in June from the International Rescue Committee found that 80 percent of Afghans rely on agriculture and cattle-grazing for their incomes, which requires rain. The scarcity crises have begun in earnest, with 40 percent of the IRCs survey respondents already experiencing negative impacts from a lack of water.

Even before the drought, estimates from the US Agency for International Development in 2020 found that 8.2 million Afghans need emergency food assistance, and 11 million can be classified as food-insecure.

If the electricity fails, thats a real problem, said Thomas Barfield, president of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies. Food is a real problem. Afghanistan has suffered from a drought. Youve got to feed the population.

Food aid was primarily the job of NGOs and is quickly drying up. Attempts from the Taliban, or lack thereof, to re-secure or provide that aid will be an important signal to experts about their interest in helping their population.

International aid is vital to that task, but that would require recognition from foreign governments, which could provide some food or water aid. China, which has both business and security interests in Afghanistan, has been floated as a potential source of legitimacy. The Taliban could make a deal with China to allow them access to minerals in Afghanistan in exchange for some level of aid, Barfield said.

But China, with concerns about how to protect its engineers and policy of giving infrastructural rather than humanitarian aid, as it does with Pakistan, could be reticent to provide actual material help, Barfield added. Another signal that the Taliban are serious about feeding the population could be allowing in the United Nations but that would require a serious compromise of their anti-Western ideology.

The hunger situation was so dire in the 1990s that, in a rare moment of pragmatism prevailing over ideology, the Taliban did allow the United Nations World Food Program into Kabul. At the time, a quarter of Kabul residents received bread from the UN or the Red Cross. Barfield said a similar allowance today would be an acknowledgment from the Taliban that providing basic aid to Afghans is a priority.

They need the cooperation of the outside world, he said. No Afghan government can stay in power if it allows its people to starve.

Finally, the most critical indicator of whether the Talibans rhetoric is real or just lip service to the international community will be the groups treatment of women.

The US-led military intervention over the past 20 years has a complicated legacy when it comes to womens rights, as Voxs Jen Kirby detailed. But over the past two decades, women have gone to school, become part of the workforce, and held positions of power in the government.

Reports already exist of the Taliban returning to its harsh past, with women in provinces the Taliban captured in months and years past being forced out of their jobs, and once again being required to have a male relative accompany them outside the house.

Experts are watching to see what women already are and are not allowed to do.

Will there be women in government? Nomikos said. Will there be women in positions of power? Will women be allowed to go to university, to go to school?

Amiri said that the Taliban are already providing an answer. Her contacts on the ground say that as the Taliban have taken over different provinces, they are showing up with lists of women activists, journalists, and government collaborators to systematically harass and intimidate their families.

Continuing those practices would be a clear sign that the Taliban are prioritizing ideology over pragmatism. Excluding women from society would also be indicative of a Taliban that is not interested in concessions for the sake of governance or in keeping its population afloat.

Kabul, particularly, couldnt function if they said no women could work, Barfield said. Lets watch. Schools are going to be opening; offices are going to be opening. Theyre going to have to make some decisions, and were actually going to be able to see.

Theres women doctors, he continued. Theres people who know how to run the electrical system, the water system. Youve got to come to some kind of modus operandi with these people, because if the system collapses, youre sort of responsible.

As Kirby explained, there are real pressures on the Taliban to be more pragmatic; some level of international legitimacy is needed in order to gain access to the aid the state depends on. But right now, Ahmadzai said the Talibans behavior indicates the creation of a security state, where the military functionally dictates society no matter what they are saying publicly.

There might be some development work, nominally, but behind the scenes, [it could likely] be a security state that would be suppressing the rights of women and human beings, suppressing condemnations of the system, and not letting people criticize, Ahmadzai said.

But maintaining that depends on military monopolization of control. Within days of the Taliban reentering Kabul, Afghans were already protesting, raising the government flag, and openly defying Taliban rule not just in Kabul but in Jalalabad and Khost as well.

Experts said armed resistance to the Taliban over the coming months is possible, too, particularly given the weaponry that warlords and their militias have, depending on how the Taliban proceed.

This time, youre coming into the most open and progressive period in Afghan history, and youre going to shut that down, Amiri said. I dont think thatll go over very well.

There are Afghans, particularly in rural areas, who might support or at least sympathize with Taliban ideology and be wary of running afoul of such a dangerous group. Additionally, the Taliban were able to get this far through cutting deals with warlords a lesson they learned from their failures in 2001. But if the Taliban pursue devastating policies and people lose access to the grants that allowed them to pursue livelihoods or the aid that kept them alive, those deals could be off, their support could wither, and the country could descend into civil war, Nomikos said.

The Taliban must decide over the next several months, as the US leaves for good and international aid is diverted, if they actually intend to pursue pragmatism. Their level of commitment to amnesty in governance, aid, and womens rights will be indicators of their decisions. And a failure to adapt could lead to their destruction.

The Taliban have never shown the capacity to govern, so how are you going to manage the expectations of the people? Amiri said. If youre oppressive, and you [also] cant deliver basic services and goods, thats not going to work.

But experts also cautioned against underestimating the Talibans ability to rule purely by force and fear that very miscalculation has undermined the USs efforts at every turn.

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The Taliban want to rule Afghanistan. Are they moderate enough to do it? - Vox.com

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Western leaders taking cues on oppression from the Taliban – Watertown Daily Times

Posted: at 3:26 am

PARIS By now youve probably heard that the Taliban fighters whose battle fatigues look like those of neo-hippies on campus at the University of California, Berkeley are on the verge of being back in charge in Afghanistan. All thanks to the failed programs funded by Western taxpayers that were apparently more like Ponzi schemes. How else could one characterize what the U.S. Defense Department estimated as $815.7 billion spent to stabilize the country and develop its institutions when the result is the NATO-trained Afghan army collapsing like it was ordered from an online cheap goods store?

When NATO troops abandoned the Bagram Air Base earlier this year, ceding it to the Afghan army protgs whom they had spent the better part of two decades training, images quickly appeared online of the Taliban commandeering some nice, shiny gym equipment on that military base. The idea of the Taliban being back in power is enough to make a lot of people who made personal sacrifices in this war irate. But they see the straw in their neighbors eye rather than the beam in their own, as the biblical saying goes.

Apparently the Taliban are less militant than our own sanitary ayatollahs here in the West at least in the gym. They didnt even have to sign up for a time slot, apply hand sanitizer and wear masks. Judging by the lack of social distancing and other Covid-era behaviors in the Taliban gym videos, its hard to imagine that they would impose strict sanitary measures on the population the way our leaders have here in the West.

We in Paris have spent the past 17 months being placed periodically on house arrest for our own good, being forced to wear cloth over our faces for fear of government-imposed punishment, having our movement controlled, and now being segregated and marginalized if our personal choices dont align with those of our rulers. Moreover, when some people speak out against such oppression, theyre either censored or targeted by institutions or authorities promoting the governments official narrative.

And now were seeing the leaders of our so-called democracies introducing increasingly intrusive monitoring through digital technology such as smartphone applications and QR codes, all under the pretext of ensuring adherence to the governments chosen ideology of sanitary purity.

Those among us who have been relieved of critical thought after being bombarded with fear-driven propaganda now cry out for punishment when a Western woman whips off her symbolically oppressive mask in her local grocery store, proclaims her emancipation from the sanitary regime, or rejects the imposition of a medical act like an injection by claiming, My body, my choice.

Indeed, the women of Afghanistan are going to have to contend with the Talibans return to power. But since the pandemic, the governments of allegedly free and democratic countries are not really in a position to be giving lessons on liberty to the Taliban or to anyone else. Our governments dont get to claim moral authority regarding oppression when theyre increasingly responsible for perpetrating it themselves.

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