Archive for June, 2020

Religious fanatics control educational system in Pakistan

June 24, 2020

Nasir Khan

Pakistani physicist Dr. Hoodbhoy’s dismissal proves once again that there is no place for any enlightened academic or scientist in Pakistan who does not follow the official line of the horrid ignorance that is imposed in the name of Islam. The Islamist right-wingers have the final say what is to be taught in the educational institutions.  Thus ignorant people have a decisive voice in shaping the educational policies of the educational institutions. They decide what a teacher of science or other subjects should say and not say.

We have heard and witnessed over the decades that Pakistani ruling elites and exploiters of Islam proclaiming time and again that in Pakistan everything taught should be according to the teachings of the Quran. But the irony is that these people even don’t know this basic fact that the Quran is a sacred book of Muslims, not a guide or manual on physics, chemistry, geology, history, geography or cosmology, etc. 

https://www.newsweekpakistan.com/religion-vs-reason/?fbclid=IwAR3eB3ssDHVBACiuV-waYaq8R4WQjwBjBuiTfiuCY92W3oDj-Ew4tkp6A2g

Religion vs. Reason

by Khaled Ahmed June 22, 2020  

File photo of Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. Attila Kisbenedek—AFP

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy’s dismissal from Lahore’s FCC University is a win for irrationality

Professor Dr. Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, currently teaching physics and math at Lahore’s Forman Christian College University, has been informed that his contract will not be renewed in 2021. The same week, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar announced that all universities of the province would be required to teach the holy Quran as a compulsory subject, with students allowed to graduate only after the course has been completed.

Hoodbhoy, born in 1950, is a Ph.D. in nuclear physics; he objects to acts of state and society against reason. His book Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality explains the source of his trouble with the ideological state of Pakistan. It is not that he hates religion; he objects to acts of irrationality in the name of religion. The two scientists he most admires, Ramanujan and Abdus Salam, were deeply religious.

He protested, however, when Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s own police guard murdered the politician after Taseer defended a Christian woman accused of insulting Islam’s Prophet under Pakistan’s draconian anti-blasphemy law. Having lived under General Ziaul Haq’s Islamic martial law, he was put off by a 1987 conference on “scientific miracles” in which Muslim scientists mixed religious miracle with scientific discovery. Pakistani scientists, encouraged by a funding of Rs. 6,600,000 (half provided by Saudi Arabia), flew off the handle and talked rubbish about science and demeaned the divine writ of the Quran.

Pakistan’s chief scientist, Salim Mehmud, tried to give himself a leg-up by making a hash of the theory of relativity after linking it with the “mairaj” (ascension) of Islam’s Prophet. Another scientist, lucratively employed at The Holy Quran Research Foundation, proposed that taming “jinns could solve the country’s energy-related problems” as the creatures are made of fire. Many others, lured by the limelight, delivered of themselves gems of medieval gibberish in the name of Islamic science.

Hoodbhoy has examined the roots of these ridiculous attitudes among Muslim scientists and come up with a well-researched book about the maltreatment of the scientific principle in Muslim societies. He asked Nobel Prize laureate Abdus Salam to write its preface because the professor had already made a plaintive appeal to the Muslim world to spend money on scientific advancement instead of “conquering” science through dogma.

Hoodbhoy tells us that scientific facts are contingent on reality. They are empirically proven but subject to change upon further discovery. In his view, it is wrong to link the eternal truth of Islam to this evolving understanding of natural phenomena. Science relies on observation and logic whose predictability is not destroyed by the new understanding of quantum physics. For a believer, it is important to separate divine knowledge from empirical fact, but this separation should not impinge on the ferocious Islamic polemic against secularism.

Science in Islam was destroyed because it was never applied enough to involve the common man. Kings often employed scientists, but they were at times killed after the death of their patron. Al-Kindi was lashed 50 times in front of an illiterate approving crowd; Al-Razi was hit on the head with his own book on rationalism till he lost his eyesight; Ibn Sina’s entire life was spent running away from one prince after the other for fear of being killed for heresy; Ibn Khaldun, the great social scientist discovered by the West, was condemned by Taha Hussain as a non-believer pretending to be a Muslim.

In his book, Hoodbhoy quotes Syed Ameer Ali on Islamic thinkers who thought the scientific method anti-Islamic: Al-Ashari, Ibn Hanbal, Al-Ghazali and Ibn Taymiyya. He examines the case made by leading Asharite Imam Ghazali against the study of logic and mathematics and thinks that this was to become the greatest intellectual hurdle against the learning of science. He criticizes contemporary Islamic scholar Hussein Nasr for blaming the sciences for the misdirection of the Muslim mind. His critique of Ziauddin Sardar for introducing the polemic of secularism into the sciences is balanced and fair.

Hoodbhoy steps beyond the pale of anti-scientism in today’s new intellectual trend when he gives statistics about the poverty of science learning in the Muslim world. The gap between India and Pakistan is significant because it goes beyond the argument of population ratios. One has to helplessly concede that where Muslims control societies, the one branch of knowledge that becomes neglected is the sciences. Prof Salam’s advocacy of the pure sciences becomes meaningful when one realizes that professional disciplines far outstrip the disciplines that teach science.

Hoodbhoy is not the only dissenting voice to have been dismissed from the echelons of academia in recent weeks. Author Mohammad Hanif posted on Twitter that he, too, had been let go from Karachi’s Habib University. Similarly, Prof. Ammar Ali Jan, also affiliated with FCCU, has also claimed on the social network that he had been released as visiting faculty over his public activism that was making the varsity “controversial.”

Pervez Hoodbhoy’s book has diagnosed what is happening to the Muslim mind toward the end of the 20th century. This mind is not only producing strange reactions to the sciences in general; it is also trying to tackle the question of governance without separating the state from religious belief. The new coercive order spreading over Muslim society is not political but intellectual. The tragic fact however is that this experiment is too late in the day and quite redundant in the light of what the institution of the state has gone through in Islam’s own history and in other civilizations.

The Media Has Conveniently Forgotten George W. Bush’s Many Atrocities

June 7, 2020

bush 9-11 guantanamo torture war

James Bovard, June 4, 2020

Former president George W. Bush has returned to the spotlight to give moral guidance to America in these troubled times. In a statement released on Tuesday, Bush announced that he was “anguished” by the “brutal suffocation” of George Floyd and declared that “lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.”

Bush’s declaration was greeted with thunderous applause by the usual suspects who portray him as the virtuous Republican in contrast to Trump. While the media portrays Bush’s pious piffle as a visionary triumph of principle, Americans need to vividly recall the lies and atrocities that permeated his eight years as president.

In an October 2017 speech in a “national forum on liberty” at the George W. Bush Institute in New York City, Bush bemoaned that “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” Coming from Bush, this had as much credibility as former president Bill Clinton bewailing the decline of chastity.

Most media coverage of Bush nowadays either ignores the falsehoods he used to take America to war in Iraq or portrays him as a good man who received incorrect information. But Bush was lying from the get-go on Iraq and was determined to drag the nation into another Middle East war. From January 2003 onwards, Bush constantly portrayed the US as an innocent victim of Saddam Hussein’s imminent aggression and repeatedly claimed that war was being “forced upon us.” That was never the case. As the Center for Public Integrity reported, Bush made “232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda.” As the lies by which he sold the Iraq War unraveled, Bush resorted to vilifying critics as traitors in a 2006 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Bush’s lies led to the killing of more than four thousand American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. But since those folks are dead and gone anyhow, the media instead lauds Bush’s selection to be in a Kennedy Center art show displaying his borderline primitive oil paintings.

In February 2018, Bush was paid lavishly to give a prodemocracy speech in the United Arab Emirates, ruled by a notorious Arab dictatorship. He proclaimed: “Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results.” He openly fretted about Russian “meddling” in the 2016 US election.

But when he was president, Bush acted as if the United States were entitled to intervene in any foreign election he pleased. He boasted in 2005 that his administration had budgeted almost $5 billion “for programs to support democratic change around the world,” much of which was spent on tampering with foreign vote totals. When Iraq held elections in 2005, Bush approved a massive covert aid program for pro-American Iraqi parties. The Bush administration spent over $65 million to boost their favored candidate in the 2004 Ukraine election. Yet, with boundless hypocrisy, Bush proclaimed that “any (Ukrainian) election…ought to be free from any foreign influence.” US government-financed organizations helped spur coups in Venezuela in 2002 and Haiti in 2004. Both of those nations, along with Ukraine, remain political train wrecks.

In that October 2017 New York speech, Bush proclaimed: “No democracy pretends to be a tyranny.” But ravaging the Constitution was apparently part of his job description when he was president. Shortly after 9-11, Bush turned back the clock to before 1215 (when the Magna Carta was signed), formally suspending habeas corpus and claiming a prerogative to imprison indefinitely anyone he labeled a terrorist suspect. In 2002, Justice Department lawyers informed Bush that the president was entitled to violate the law during wartime—and the war on terror was expected to continue indefinitely. In 2004, Bush White House counsel Alberto Gonzales formally asserted a “commander-in-chief override power” entitling presidents to ignore the Bill of Rights.

Under Bush, the US government embraced barbaric practices which did more to destroy America’s moral credibility than all of Trump’s tweets combined. Bush’s “enhanced interrogation” regime included endless high-volume repetition of a Meow Mix cat food commercial at Guantanamo, head slapping, waterboarding, exposure to frigid temperatures, and manacling for many hours in stress positions. After the Supreme Court rebuffed some of Bush’s power grabs in 2006, he pushed through Congress a bill that retroactively legalized torture—one of the worst legislative disgraces since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. During his years in the White House, Bush perennially denied that he had approved torture. But in 2010, during an author tour to promote his new memoir, he bragged about approving waterboarding for terrorist suspects.

Is Bush nominating himself to be the nation’s racial healer? When he was president, Bush inflicted more financial ruin on blacks than any president since Woodrow Wilson (who brought Jim Crow barbarities to the federal government). Bush trumpeted his plans to close the gap between black and white homeownership rates and promised in 2002 to “use the mighty muscle of the federal government” to solve the problem. Bush was determined to end the bias against people who wanted to buy a home but had no money. Congress passed Bush’s American Dream Downpayment Act in 2003, authorizing federal handouts to first-time homebuyers of up to $10,000 or 6 percent of the home’s purchase price. Bush also swayed Congress to permit the Federal Housing Administration to make no–down payment loans to low-income Americans. Bush proclaimed: “Core American values of individuality, thrift, responsibility, and self-reliance are embodied in homeownership.” In Bush’s eyes, self-reliance was so wonderful that the government should subsidize it. And it didn’t matter whether recipients were creditworthy, because politicians meant well. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign trumpeted his down payment giveaways, a shining example of “compassionate conservatism.”

Thanks in large part to his policies, minority households saw the fastest growth in homeownership leading up to the 2007 recession. The housing collapse ravaged the net worth of black and Hispanic households. “The implosion of the subprime lending market has left a scar on the finances of black Americans—one that not only has wiped out a generation of economic progress but could leave them at a financial disadvantage for decades,” the Washington Post reported in 2012. The median net worth for Hispanic households declined by 66 percent between 2005 and 2009. That devastation was aptly described in a 2017 federal appeals court dissenting opinion as “wrecking ball benevolence” (quoting a 2004 Barron’s op-ed I wrote). But almost none of the media coverage of the ex-president reminds people of the economic carnage of this Bush vote-buying binge.

It is possible to condemn police brutality and, even more importantly, the evil laws and judicial doctrines that enable police to tyrannize other Americans without any help from a demagogic ex-president who ravaged our rights, liberties, and peace. As I commented in an August 2003 USA Today op-ed, “Whether Bush and his appointees will be held personally liable for their [Iraq War] falsehoods is a grave test for American democracy.” The revival of Bush’s reputation vivifies how our political media system failed that test. As long as George Bush doesn’t turn himself in for committing war crimes, all of his talk about “achieving justice for all” is rubbish. Author:

James Bovard

James Bovard is the author of ten books, including 2012’s Public Policy Hooligan, and 2006’s Attention Deficit Democracy. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Playboy, Washington Post, and many other publications.

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