Killer


Two signs posted on the door of a nondescript dental office here asked passers-by to mourn the death of Cecil, a lion who was lured off his sanctuary and killed during a game hunt this month in Zimbabwe.

“WE ARE CECIL,” one read; “#CatLivesMatter,” read another. Nearby was a sign with a darker message for the dentist who said he killed the cat: “ROT IN HELL.”

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In the hours since Dr. Walter J. Palmer apologized for killing the lion, he has gone from a dentist and longtime hunting enthusiast to a villain at the center of a firestorm over the ethics of big-game trophy hunting.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study, until the end of the hunt,” Dr. Palmer said in a statement. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

The outrage and attention surrounding the lion’s death online caused Dr. Palmer to keep his office closed on Wednesday as he joined an ever-expanding group of people who have become targets of Internet vigilantism, facing a seemingly endless shaming until the next issue comes along.

After Zimbabwean officials identified Dr. Palmer as the hunter, activists used search engines to find his contact information and social media to share information about his business and his family, stirring a fever pitch of anger strong enough to effectively dismantle his digital life. Angry people sent a surge of traffic to Dr. Palmer’s website, which was taken offline. Vitriolic reviews flooded his Yelp page. A Facebook page titled “Shame Lion Killer Dr. Walter Palmer and River Bluff Dental” drew thousands of users. Dr. Palmer’s face was scrubbed from industry websites.

Even a local crisis management expert was pulled in to the fray. The specialist, Jon Austin, who operates a Minneapolis-based communications firm, said in an email that he had been asked only to circulate Dr. Palmer’s initial statement.

On Wednesday, Mr. Austin ended his involvement with the matter, but not before his own Yelp page was flooded by angry commenters.

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At Dr. Palmer’s office here, a memorial to the lion sprung up with red roses and more than a dozen plush toys, many of them jungle animals, strewn outside the locked front door.

“Murderer! Terrorist!” one protester, Rachel Augusta, screamed into a megaphone.

No one answered repeated knocks and doorbell rings at Dr. Palmer’s large, stucco house in an affluent neighborhood. And his neighbors would not talk.

Trophy hunting, undertaken by wealthy hunters who pay tens of thousands of dollars for licenses to kill protected animals for trophies and sport, has long been a subject of global debate. Hunting advocates and some conservationists argue that, if done responsibly, the selling of expensive licenses to big-game hunters can help pay for efforts to protect endangered species.

A 2009 study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimated that trophy hunters killed around 600 lions a year. Last October, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a move that would also establish guidelines for permitting the importing of lion trophies. That proposal is under review.

Cecil had been closely studied by researchers at the University of Oxford since 2008 as part of efforts to study a decline in Africa’s lion population and to better understand the threats the animals face. The university’sWildlife Conservation Research Unit said in a statement that Cecil’s adult “brothers” and cubs would probably be killed by other male lions seeking dominance in the community.

Debates over trophy hunting have long been held among conservationists and animal rights activists without reaching the mainstream. When a Texas man reportedly paid $350,000 to hunt and kill a black rhinoceros in Namibia this year, the furor largely stayed within that community. But the death of Cecil, a 13-year-old lion who wandered out of his sanctuary in a national park in Zimbabwe, struck a chord.

Dr. Palmer had paid around $54,000 to hunt the animal, according to news reports, and in 2009, he paid $45,000 at an auction to help preserve an elk habitat in California. He was profiled that year in The New York Times when he shot and killed an elk from 75 yards with a compound bow in pursuit of a bowhunting record.

According to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the lion was shot with a crossbow after he was lured out of the sanctuary, following the scent of food. Cecil, well known to those who visited Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe for his jet black mane, was only injured by the arrow. The hunters tracked him for about two days before he was killed with a gun, conservation officials said. He was beheaded and skinned, his corpse left to rot.

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Two Zimbabwean men, a farm owner and a professional hunter who are accused of helping Dr. Palmer, appeared in court on Wednesday on poaching charges. Zimbabwean officials said Dr. Palmer was also being sought on poaching charges.

Erin Flior, who specializes in crisis management at the public relations firm Levick, said that frequent cases of widespread social media outrage had made digital crisis and reputation management a growing specialty. She recalled cases in which clients had to move or consider changing their names.

“The fact that it crosses my desk at all means it happens too much, in my opinion,” Ms. Flior said. “It really tends to be instances where a very educated, tech-savvy crowd has jumped on board that those kind of instances get taken to that level where personal information is being released.”

JULY 29, 2015

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RAFAH, Gaza Strip — It was clear from the bod­ies laid out in the park­ing lot of the ma­ter­ni­ty hos­pi­tal here that it had as­sumed new du­ties: No longer a place that wel­comed new life, it was now a make­shift morgue.

Oth­er bod­ies lay in hall­ways and on the floor of the kitchen at Hi­lal Emi­rati Ma­ter­ni­ty Hos­pi­tal. In the walk-in cool­er, they were stacked three high, wait­ing for rel­a­tives to claim them for burial.

Sat­ur­day was the sec­ond day of heavy bom­bard­ment by Is­raeli forces on this city on Gaza’s bor­der with Egypt af­ter Is­rael’s an­nounce­ment that one of its of­fi­cers had been cap­tured by Pal­es­tin­ian mil­i­tants here dur­ing a clash.

But ear­ly Sun­day morn­ing, the Is­raeli mil­i­tary an­nounced that the of­fi­cer, Sec­ond Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, was now con­sid­ered to have been killed in bat­tle.

Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Medics at a field hospital in Rafah, Gaza Strip. More than 120 Palestinians were killed in Rafah alone on Friday and Saturday.

“It is just an ex­cuse,” said Dr. Ab­dul­lah She­hadeh,

di­rec­tor of the Abu Yousef al-Na­j­jar Hos­pi­tal, the city’s larg­est. “There is no rea­son for them to force the women and chil­dren of Gaza to pay the price for some­thing that hap­pened on the bat­tle­field.”

Af­ter two days of Is­raeli shelling and airstrikes, cen­tral Rafah ap­peared de­serted on Sat­ur­day, with shops closed and res­i­dents hid­ing in their homes. The pres­ence of Is­raeli forces east of the city had caused many to flee west, crowd­ing in with friends and rel­a­tives in neigh­bor­hoods by the Med­i­ter­ra­nean.

More than 120 Pales­tini­ans were killed in Rafah alone on Fri­day and Sat­ur­day — the dead­li­est two days in the city since the war be­gan 25 days ago. Those deaths, and hun­dreds of in­ju­ries, over­whelmed the city’s health care fa­cil­i­ties.

Mak­ing mat­ters worse, Is­raeli shells hit the cen­tral Na­j­jar hos­pi­tal on Fri­day af­ter­noon, Dr. She­hadeh said, lead­ing its em­ploy­ees and pa­tients to evac­u­ate.

To con­tinue re­ceiv­ing pa­tients, his staff mem­bers moved to the small­er Ku­waiti Spe­cial­ized Hos­pi­tal, al­though it was ill equipped to han­dle the large num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing care.

Am­bu­lances screamed in­to the hos­pi­tal’s park­ing lot, where medics un­loaded cases on­to stretch­ers some­times bear­ing the blood of pre­vi­ous pa­tients. Since the hos­pi­tal had on­ly 12 beds, the staff mem­bers had lined up gur­neys out­side to han­dle the over­flow.

The city’s cen­tral hos­pi­tal had al­so housed its on­ly morgue, so its clo­sure cre­ated a new prob­lem as the ca­su­al­ties mount­ed: where to put the bod­ies.

At the Ku­waiti Spe­cial­ized Hos­pi­tal, they were put on the floor of the den­tal ward un­der a poster pro­mot­ing den­tal hy­giene. In a back room lay the bod­ies of Sa­di­ah Abu Taha, 60, and her grand­son Rezeq Abu Taha, 1, who had been killed in an airstrike on their home near­by.

Few peo­ple ap­proached the main en­trance to the pink-and-white ma­ter­ni­ty hos­pi­tal, in­stead head­ing around back, where there was a con­stant flow of bod­ies. Near­ly 60 had been left in the morgue of the cen­tral hos­pi­tal when it closed, so am­bu­lance crews who had man­aged to reach the site brought back as many bod­ies as they could car­ry. Oth­er bod­ies came from new at­tacks or were re­cov­ered from dam­aged build­ings.

New ar­rivals were laid out in the park­ing lot or car­ried down a ramp to the kitchen, fea­tur­ing a large walk-in cool­er. Some were kept on the ground, and those not claimed right away were added to the pile in the cool­er.

Word had spread that the dead were at the ma­ter­ni­ty hos­pi­tal, so peo­ple who had lost rel­a­tives came to talk to the medics or look in the cool­er for their loved ones.

One short, sun­burned man point­ed to the body of a woman wear­ing pink sweat­pants and said she was his sis­ter Souad al-Tara­bin.

The medics pulled her out, laid her on a ta­ble and wrapped her in white cloth and plas­tic. Some teenagers helped the man car­ry her body up­stairs and lay it in the back of a yel­low taxi. A man in the front seat cra­dled a small bun­dle con­tain­ing the re­mains of the woman’s 4-year-old son, Anas.

Sit­ting near­by, As­ma Abu Ju­main wait­ed for the body of her moth­er-in-law, who she said had been killed the day be­fore and was in the morgue at the cen­tral hos­pi­tal when it was evac­u­ated.

“She is an old woman,” Ms. Abu Ju­main said. “She did noth­ing wrong.”

The move­ment of bod­ies made record-keep­ing im­pos­si­ble, al­though Arafat Ad­wan, a hos­pi­tal vol­un­teer, tried to jot down names in a small red note­book he kept in his pock­et.

He wor­ried that some bod­ies would re­main there for days, be­cause fam­ilies had been scat­tered and might not know that their rel­a­tives had been killed.

“There are peo­ple in here whose fam­ilies have no idea what hap­pened to them,” he said.

Oth­ers knew they had lost rel­a­tives but could not find them.

Mo­ham­med al-Ban­na said an airstrike the morn­ing be­fore had killed nine of his in-laws, in­clud­ing his wife’s fa­ther and four of her broth­ers.

“The ag­gres­sion here is cre­at­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of youth who want re­venge for all the crimes,” he said.

He had looked at the cen­tral hos­pi­tal the day be­fore, to no avail. Then, on Sat­ur­day, he re­ceived a mes­sage sent to lo­cal cell­phones telling those who had lost rel­a­tives to re­trieve them from the ma­ter­ni­ty hos­pi­tal. He had come right away, but had not found them.

“I’ll keep wait­ing for their bod­ies to come in so we can

take them home and bury them,” he said.

Mr. Ban­na added that he had been too wor­ried to tell his wife what had hap­pened to her fam­ily and want­ed to break the news to her grad­u­ally. Ear­lier that day, she had told him that she was start­ing to wor­ry be­cause her fa­ther’s cell­phone had been switched off all day.

“I told her maybe he has no elec­tricity and his phone is dead,” Mr. Ban­na said.

 

 

JERUSALEM — The Is­raeli mil­i­tary said ear­ly Sun­day morn­ing that an of­fi­cer thought to have been cap­tured by Pales­tin­ian mil­i­tants dur­ing a dead­ly clash Fri­day morn­ing, which shat­tered a planned 72-hour cease-fire, was now con­sid­ered to have been killed in bat­tle.

The an­nounce­ment came just hours af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu vowed to con­tin­ue Is­rael’s mil­i­tary cam­paign in the Gaza Strip as long as nec­es­sary to stop Hamas at­tacks, while sug­gest­ing a de-es­ca­la­tion of the ground war in Gaza may be near.

The case of the miss­ing sol­dier, Sec­ond Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, be­came the lat­est flash point in the con­flict, prompt­ing a fierce Is­raeli bom­bard­ment and calls from lead­ers around the world for his re­lease. His dis­ap­pear­ance came af­ter Hamas mil­i­tants am­bushed Is­raeli sol­diers near the south­ern bor­der town of Rafah, at the start of what was sup­posed to have been a pause in the fight­ing.

As the death toll mount­ed Sat­ur­day to more than 1,650 Pales­tini­ans, many of them women and chil­dren, and im­ages of homes, mosques and schools smashed in­to rub­ble filled the me­dia, Mr. Ne­tanyahu was un­der con­sid­er­able in­ter­na­tion­al pres­sure, from Wash­ing­ton and Eu­rope, to end the con­flict. The Unit­ed Na­tions warned of “an un­fold­ing health dis­as­ter” in Gaza with lit­tle elec­tric­i­ty, bad wa­ter and a lack of med­ical sup­plies.

At the same time, Mr. Ne­tanyahu was un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure at home to de­liv­er on his promis­es to crush.

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Hamas, par­tic­u­lar­ly with 64 Is­raeli sol­diers dead. He in­sist­ed Sat­ur­day that Hamas had been se­vere­ly hurt and he warned that it would pay “an in­tol­er­a­ble price” if it con­tin­ues to fire rock­ets at Is­rael.

His for­mer deputy de­fense min­is­ter, Dan­ny Danon,who was fired by Mr. Ne­tanyahu for pub­lic crit­i­cism of the gov­ern­ment, said in a state­ment Sat­ur­day that “the cab­i­net is grave­ly mis­tak­en in its de­ci­sion to with­draw forces from Gaza. This is a step in the wrong di­rec­tion.”

But Mr. Ne­tanyahu, in a na­tion­al­ly tele­vised speech with his de­fense min­is­ter be­side him, in­sist­ed that Is­rael was achiev­ing its goals and could al­ter its tac­tics. “We promised to re­turn the qui­et to Is­rael’s cit­i­zens, and we will con­tin­ue to act un­til that aim is achieved,” Mr. Ne­tanyahu said. “We will take as much time as nec­es­sary, and will ex­ert as much force as need­ed.”

Is­rael was not end­ing its op­er­a­tion uni­lat­er­al­ly, he said, adding: “We will de­ploy in the places most con­ve­nient to us to re­duce fric­tion on I.D.F. sol­diers, be­cause we care about them.” There were Is­raeli tele­vi­sion re­ports on Sat­ur­day that some Is­rael De­fense Forces troops were pulling out of Gaza, and Is­rael in­formed Pales­tini­ans in Beit Lahiya and al-Ata­tra, in north­ern Gaza, that it was now safe to re­turn to their homes. Is­raeli of­fi­cials have said that the army’s ef­fort to de­stroy the elab­o­rate tun­nel sys­tem from Gaza in­to Is­rael would be fin­ished in the next day or two.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials sug­gest­ed that the army would leave built-up ar­eas and some forces would re­de­ploy in­side Gaza, clos­er to the bor­der fence, to re­spond to at­tacks if nec­es­sary. Oth­er units will re­turn to south­ern Is­rael.

Hamas, for its part, vowed to con­tin­ue fight­ing. Sa­mi Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, told the news agency Maan that “a uni­lat­er­al with­draw­al or re­de­ploy­ment by Is­rael in the Strip will be an­swered by a fit­ting re­sponse by the Hamas mil­i­tary arm.” He said that “the forces of oc­cu­pa­tion must choose be­tween re­main­ing in Gaza and pay­ing the price or re­treat­ing and pay­ing the price or hold­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions and pay­ing the price.”

Mr. Ne­tanyahu thanked the Unit­ed States, which along with the Unit­ed Na­tions ap­peared to sup­port Is­rael’s po­si­tion that Hamas’s ac­tions vi­o­lat­ed the cease-fire, and he asked for in­ter­na­tion­al help to re­build Gaza on the con­di­tion of its “de­mil­i­ta­riza­tion.” Is­rael ap­pears to be hop­ing that with the sup­port of Egypt and the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas of the Pales­tin­ian Au­thor­i­ty can con­trol Gaza through a uni­ty gov­ern­ment agreed up­on with Hamas and take re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for se­cu­ri­ty there and for the Rafah cross­ing to Egypt.

Mr. Ne­tanyahu re­peat­ed that his goal was to re­store “peace and calm” to Is­rael and that he in­tend­ed to do so by what­ev­er means — diplo­mat­i­cal­ly or mil­i­tar­i­ly. “All op­tions are on the ta­ble,” he said. But he in­di­cat­ed that Is­rael would not get caught up again in talk about a ne­go­ti­at­ed cease-fire with Hamas and Is­lam­ic Ji­had and would act in its own in­ter­ests, while seek­ing sup­port from Mr. Ab­bas and the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty for what Mr. Ne­tanyahu de­scribed vague­ly as “a new re­al­i­ty” in Gaza.

Is­rael has de­cid­ed not to send a del­e­ga­tion to cease-fire talks host­ed by Egypt, at least not now, Is­raeli of­fi­cials said. In Wash­ing­ton, Jen Psa­ki, a State De­part­ment

spokes­woman, said: “In the end, this par­tic­u­lar­ly bloody chap­ter will ul­ti­mate­ly re­quire a durable so­lu­tion so that all the fun­da­men­tal is­sues, in­clud­ing Is­rael’s se­cu­ri­ty, can be ne­go­ti­at­ed, and we will keep work­ing with Is­rael and oth­er part­ners to achieve that goal.” She said that Is­rael had a right to de­fend it­self.

Hours be­fore the mil­i­tary an­nounced that Lieu­tenant Goldin had died, his par­ents called on the prime min­is­ter and the army not to leave their son be­hind.

The cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his death re­mained cloudy. A mil­i­tary spokes­woman de­clined to say whether Lieu­tenant Goldin had been killed along with two com­rades by a sui­cide bomb one of the mil­i­tants ex­plod­ed, or lat­er by Is­rael’s as­sault on the area to hunt for him; she al­so re­fused to an­swer whether his re­mains had been re­cov­ered.

As word spread on Sat­ur­day that Is­rael’s lead­ers were con­sid­er­ing pulling all ground forces from Gaza, Lieu­tenant Goldin’s fam­i­ly spoke to jour­nal­ists out­side their home in Kfar Sa­ba, a Tel Aviv sub­urb. “I de­mand that the state of Is­rael not leave Gaza un­til they bring my son back home,” said his moth­er, Hed­va. His sis­ter, Ayelet, 35, added, “If a cap­tive sol­dier is left in Gaza, it’s a de­feat.”

The fam­i­ly said they were con­vinced that Lieu­tenant Goldin was alive.

“I hope and be­lieve in hu­man kind­ness, that the world will do any­thing to bring Hadar with a smile back home,” his broth­er Che­mi, 32, said in an in­ter­view.

When his moth­er called him on Fri­day, Che­mi said, he

knew some­thing ter­ri­ble had hap­pened, but did not know whether it in­volved Lieu­tenant Goldin or his twin, Tzur, who was al­so fight­ing in Gaza. Che­mi said the twins, who at­tend­ed kinder­garten in Cam­bridge, Eng­land, did not talk much about their mil­i­tary ser­vice. In Gaza, the armed wing of Hamas said ear­ly Sat­ur­day that it was not hold­ing the Is­raeli of­fi­cer. The Qas­sam Brigades sug­gest­ed in a state­ment that the of­fi­cer might have been killed along with his cap­tors in an Is­raeli as­sault that fol­lowed a sui­cide-bomb at­tack by Pales­tin­ian mil­i­tants, who emerged from a tun­nel that Is­raeli troops were try­ing to de­stroy near Rafah.

“Un­til now, we have no idea about the dis­ap­pear­ance of the Is­raeli sol­dier,” the state­ment said. Say­ing the lead­er­ship had lost touch with its “troops de­ployed in the am­bush,” the state­ment added, “Our ac­count is that the sol­dier could have been kid­napped and killed to­geth­er with our fight­ers.”

The Is­raeli Army con­tin­ued to pound Rafah in its search for Lieu­tenant Goldin, strik­ing more than 200 tar­gets across Gaza in the 24 hours since the Rafah con­fronta­tion, in­clud­ing what it de­scribed as a “re­search and de­vel­op­ment” lab for weapons man­u­fac­tur­ing at the Is­lam­ic Uni­ver­si­ty, run by Hamas. Five mosques that the mil­i­tary said con­cealed weapons or Hamas out­posts were al­so hit, the Is­raelis said.

Around noon, a bar­rage of rock­ets flew in­to south­ern Is­rael.

The Gaza-based health min­istry, which had re­port­ed 70 peo­ple killed in Rafah on Fri­day, said the ca­su­al­ties had con­tin­ued there overnight, in­clud­ing sev­en mem­bers of one fam­i­ly who died when their home was bombed.

 

Steven Erlanger reported from Jerusalem, and Jodi Rudoren from Kfar Saba, Israel. Fares Akram contributed reporting from Gaza City, and Michael R. Gordon from Washington.

This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT)

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This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

A photo of a desperate young Palestinian boy, badly wounded and screaming for his father as he clutches at the shirt of a paramedic in a hospital, has captured the tragic and bloody tension of the Gazan conflict.

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Shirtless and with cuts to his face, torso, arms and legs, the child clings to the hospital worker who is attempting to lay him flat on a girdle.

The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian publication, reports the photo, taken at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, was captioned with the boy’s desperate cry: ‘I want my father, bring me my father’, according to Fairfax.

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The Palestinian paper claims the young boy was one of four siblings brought to the hospital wounded, two of them just three years old.

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It comes as grinning Israeli tank commanders were pictured flashing the victory signs as they blast their way through Gaza in the bloodiest day of the offensive so far – as one resident of the troubled region said: ‘The gate of hell has opened.’

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At least 65 people have been killed since this yesterday’s dawn strike on Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood – including the son, daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren of a senior Hamas leader.

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Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier – a scenario that has proven to be fraught with difficulties for the country in the past – but Israel’s U.N. Ambassador has denied the claims.

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The neighbourhood has come under heavy tank fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas, causing hundreds of residents to flee.

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The dead and wounded – including dozens of women and children – have reportedly been left in streets, with ambulances unable to approach.

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Source: (July 21, 2014)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699772/This-desperate-little-boy-face-tragedy-Palestinian-toddler-clutches-shirt-hospital-worker-screaming-I-want-father-bring-father.html?ito=social-facebook

He’s had a busy summer. As God only knows, he was summoned to slaughter in the Holy Land, asked to end the killings of Muslims by Buddhist monks in Myanmar, and played both sides again in the 1,400-year-old dispute over the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad.

In between, not much down time. Yes, the World Cup was fun, and God chose to mess with His Holinesses, pitting the team from Pope Francis’s Argentina against Germany, home of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Well played, even if the better pope lost.

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At least Rick Perry was not his usual time-suck. The governor proclaimed three days of prayer to end the Texas drought in 2011, saying, “I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God, and say, ‘God: You’re going to have to fix this.’ ” The drought got worse. Two years ago, Perry said that God had not “changed his mind” about same-sex marriage. But the states have. Since Perry became a spokesman for the deity, the map of legalized gay marriage in America has expanded by 50 percent.

Still, these are pillow feathers in a world weighted down with misery. God is on a rampage in 2014, a bit like the Old Testament scourge who gave direct instructions to people to kill one another.

It’s not true that all wars are fought in the name of religion, as some atheists assert. Of 1,723 armed conflicts documented in the three-volume “Encyclopedia of Wars,” only 123, or less than 7 percent, involved a religious cause. Hitler’s genocide, Stalin’s bloody purges and Pol Pot’s mass murders certainly make the case that state-sanctioned killings do not need the invocation of a higher power to succeed.

But this year, the ancient struggle of My God versus Your God is at the root of dozens of atrocities, giving pause to the optimists among us (myself included) who believe that while the arc of enlightenment is long, it still bends toward the better.

In the name of God and hate, Sunnis are killing Shiites in Iraq, and vice versa. A jihadist militia, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, boasts of beheading other Muslims while ordering women to essentially live in caves, faces covered, minds closed. The two sides of a single faith have been sorting it out in that blood-caked land, with long periods of peace, since the year 632. Don’t expect it to end soon. A majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are peaceful, but a Pew Survey found that 40 percent of Sunnis do not think Shiites are proper Muslims.

Elsewhere, a handful of failed states are seeing carnage over some variant of the seventh-century dispute. And the rage that moved Hamas to lob rockets on birthday parties in Tel Aviv, and Israelis to kill children playing soccer on the beach in Gaza, has its roots in the spiritual superiority of extremists on both sides.

The most horrific of the religion-inspired zealots may be Boko Haram in Nigeria. As is well known thanks to a feel-good and largely useless Twitter campaign, 250 girls were kidnapped by these gangsters for the crime of attending school. Boko Haram’s God tells them to sell the girls into slavery.

The current intra-religious fights are not to be confused with people who fly airplanes into buildings, or shoot up innocents while shouting “God is great.” But those killers most assuredly believed that their reward for murder is heaven.

“It’s not true that all wars are fought in the name of religion, as some atheists assert.”Which atheists assert that? I’ve certainly never…

Of late, God has taken a long break from Ireland, such a small country for such a big fight between worshipers under the same cross. There, the animus is not so much theological as it is historical. If the curious Muslim is wondering why Protestants and Catholics can’t just get along on that lovely island, take a look at the Thirty Years’ War of the 17th century, when about 20 percent of the population of present-day Germany fell to clashes between the two branches of Christianity.
Violent Buddhist mobs (yes, it sounds oxymoronic) are responsible for a spate of recent attacks against Muslims in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, leaving more than 200 dead and close to 150,000 homeless. The clashes prompted the Dalai Lama to make an urgent appeal to end the bloodshed. “Buddha preaches love and compassion,” he said.

And so do Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The problem is that people of faith often become fanatics of faith. Reason and force are useless against aspiring martyrs.

In the United States, God is on the currency. By brilliant design, though, he is not mentioned in the Constitution. The founders were explicit: This country would never formally align God with one political party, or allow someone to use religion to ignore civil laws. At least that was the intent. In this summer of the violent God, five justices on the Supreme Court seem to feel otherwise.

 

* Timothy Egan, NYT, July 18, 2014

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