Moron Alphabet N-O

This is the latest in a series. See also:

N is for Nigerian Pastors

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, a rising power, and a land of huge complexity, its population comprising around 250 ethnic groups. The country has huge oil reserves and an economy growing at Chinese-type speed; at its current rate of development, Nigeria stands to become a global power within decades. In surveys, Nigeria generally ranks as the world’s most religious country, with its population roughly evenly split between Christians and Muslims. Religion in Nigeria is one of its fastest-growing industries and is hugely competitive, especially in the wealthier Christian-dominated south. Nigeria’s demographics and history make for the evolution of bizarre new strains of Christianity; despite the country’s growing wealth, inequality is extreme, and most Nigerians still live in poverty. Education has yet to reach the majority – only about 30% of Nigerians receive secondary education; and despite the dominance of non-African religions, most people still hold on to traditional beliefs in juju (black magic) and witchcraft.

Additional to the home market, Nigeria’s large and wealthy diaspora are also targets of the religion biz, with large international church networks blossoming.

These factors make for a population that’s deeply susceptible to superstitious beliefs, and a large number of religious preachers who are willing to exploit the ignorant for huge financial rewards. The religion business is so lucrative that Forbes maintain a rich-list list of the wealthiest Nigerian pastors.

Nigeria’s pastors preach a kind of anti-Christianity known as Prosperity Theology, which promises not just eternal salvation but wealth on Earth too; this is (understandably) hugely popular, despite contradicting the traditional Christian idea of wealth and inequality being evils. The sight of the rich extracting money from those who can’t afford it is ugly enough, but much darker practises also take place. Given the cost of medicine to ordinary Nigerians, and the belief in juju, many preachers offer cures for cash. This practise was most recently revealed to be taking place in London, where three AIDS sufferers in the congregation of one of Nigeria’s wealthiest pastors, TB Joshua, are reported to have died after stopping their HIV treatments.

And it gets worse: three years ago, a documentary called Nigeria’s Witch Children was shown on UK Channel 4. This revealed horrendous and widespread abuse of children labelled as witches. While this happened because of traditional superstition, it was stirred up on a large scale by wealthy pastors who were selling “exorcisms” to their poor victims.

We’re used to thinking of missionaries as Europeans who go to preach in Africa. Now the flow is reversing – the Nigerian pastors are coming!

O is for Omnipresence

Once upon a time, God was a physical being who lived somewhere. In a primitive, tribal world where few people strayed far from their home village, that made sense; people could believe that a god or gods could be found on an island they’d never visit, across a sea they’d never cross, or up a mountain they’d never climb. Primitive gods aren’t fluffy, undetectable things like those of today; they have substance, appearance and location, and can be called upon at will to prove their existence. Moses, for example, was able to climb Mount Sinai (alone) to meet God and collect the tablets containing the ten commandments.

As people began travelling further afield, God became more elusive. The atheist rapper Greydon Square (who you should seek out if you enjoy intelligent hip-hop) said the following in the track Mission Statement on his album, The CPT Theorem:

I love how the gods used to live in the mountains, and when we moved to the mountains and never found them, then they went and moved to the sky, then we moved to the sky, but we didn’t find them there, and you’re wondering why.

… thus summarising the religious problem nicely. God is always to be found just beyond our reach. The heavens were once “up there” in the sky. But when mankind insisted on inventing flying machines and space rockets, heaven, like God, became an abstract, elusive thing. So if God is no longer somewhere, he must be everywhere – how else could he hear our prayers, check that we go to church or see us sin?

Omnipresence is only a temporary refuge for God. Having evolved from a physical being who intervenes in our affairs to a wispy cloud-thing who generally leaves us alone, he becomes a soft target for scientific reasoning, which grows stronger all the time. Of course, the power is still in the hands of the believers. All they need do to prove their case is provide evidence of God’s existence – and presumably they have some hidden away somewhere, ready to reveal at the right moment.

The Moron Dictionary

Afghanistan(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 2001

Armageddon(n) – End of the world. Happening any time now since 33AD

Bachmann(v) – Say the most insane thing with conviction, knowing that there’s someone stupid enough to believe it

China(n) – Evil country that lent Americans money without warning they’d have to pay it back
Climate change(n) – Dumb theory invented by evil scientists who want to stop Americans driving their cars for some reason I can’t think of at the moment
Communist(n) – An evil God-hating person who hides under your bed
Drill(v) – The solution to all our problems
Evil-doer(n) – See Communist
Fox(v) – Destroy someone’s ability to think for themselves
Freedom(n) – A nice word to put in your Twitter bio. No idea what it means
Gun(n) – Perfectly safe device, except when in the vicinity of people
Iran(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 1979Iraq(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 1990
Islam(n) – A scary religion that came into existence in 2001
Israel(n) – A great country created on a previously empty piece of land so that Jesus can come back
Marijuana(n) – An evil plant that turns Christians into Communists
Massacre(n)
1. Something bad that brown people do
2. Something sad but necessary that white people do
Oil(n) – A fantastic substance discovered by kind corporations in infinite quantities that causes no harm to anybody or anything whatsoeverPalin(v) – Make millions of dollars by pretending to be a politicianRiot(n)

1. An event of violent social unrest, carried out by evil criminals in England

2. An event of violent social unrest, carried out by good, oppressed people anywhere else

Science(n) – A bizarre set of theories designed by Communists to destroy civilisation as we know it
Somalia(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 1993
Terrorism(n) – An act of mass murder that kills white peopleTime Travel(n) – The method by which Obama caused the sub-prime mortgage disasterUS Constitution(n) – A great document that says guns are good and taxes are bad. That’s all it says, so don’t bother actually reading it

Vietnam(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 1955

Moron Alphabet: K-M


This is the latest in a series. See also:

K is for Kenya

Your average American moron only knows how to find countries that the US has bombed, because pretty much nowhere else will get the attention of Fox News. So Kenya hasn’t made it into the moron meme-pool until very recently. The East African country first sprang into existence (from the moron perspective) in 1998 when it was bombed (allegedly) by Osama bin Laden’s small terrorist group; not by “Al Qaida” though – this “global threat” wasn’t invented until 2001, when an enemy was needed in order to justify the “war on terror”.

Kenya is now most famous among a spectacularly moronic sect known as the birthers, for being the “probable” birthplace of Barack Obama. This extraordinary piece of wishful thinking comes about because if proven to have been born elsewhere, Obama would not qualify to stand as US president, and the “huge error” of inaugurating a black man as President could be undone (though of course, none of the people screaming about Obama’s ineligibility for the job is in any way racist!)

Birthers on Twitter continually scream that they want to see Obama’s birth certificate. The fact that it was posted online in 2008 doesn’t put them off at all, and nor does the fact that his birth was announced in Hawaiian newspapers in 1961. The latest high-profile moron to add his name to the birther calls is Donald Trump, who is making noises about a Presidential run in 2012, and making some extremely moronic statements in order to get media coverage. He’s been rewarded for this by regular appearances on Republican TV (sorry, I mean Fox News).

L is for Londonistan

Some words instantly brand their user as a moron, and Londonistan is one of these. It was apparently coined by French intelligence officials who were battling “Islamist” terrorists during the 1990s, and felt that British intelligence were being too soft (in fact France was a target of Algerian terrorists, due to its murderous activities in Algeria and because of the brutality with which racial minorities were being treated in France – but I digress).

The word was then adopted by Melanie Phillips, a far-right UK journalist, as the title of her book warning about the “Islamic threat”. Phillips is one of those people for whom Muslims can do nothing right while Israel can do nothing wrong; her journalism is also of the opinion-over-fact variety, and she will doubtless feature on this blog at greater length in future.

These days, the word is liberally thrown around by every Islamaphobic moron who has ever heard it, and is convinced that London has become a Shariah-run Caliphate and the entire UK will be next. The fact that I live in London, and have done my whole life, doesn’t deter random Europeans and Americans from telling me that I live in Londonistan, and if I haven’t noticed, I’m obviously stupid/a Muslim/a terrorist sympathiser. Now it’s true that there is a mosque within a minute of my home and that my area has a large Muslim community; it’s also true that my nearest 24-hour shop, where I buy haraam products like alcohol and bacon when I can’t be bothered to walk further, is run by Muslims. London is a largely secular place, and that includes the bulk of its Muslim community, many of whom enjoy a beer or a glass of wine with the rest of us.

I could also point out that London was never a victim of Islamist terror until our moron Prime Minister took us to a war in Iraq in March 2003. But as we know, morons much prefer hysterical myths to facts, and Londonistan is just one of many.

M is for Moron

Moron is my favourite word, as readers may have already noticed. I due use the term in a number of contexts, but I do try to apply it only when deserved. My usage includes the following cases:

  • People who tweet absurdly stupid things.
  • People who hate, publicly.
  • People who believe media stories, even when obviously made up.
  • Those who take their beliefs direct from highly biased sources like Fox News, without ever checking (learn to use Google, morons!)
  • Those who take part in the spread of lies (such as the birther lie) either believing them, or knowing they are false but spreading them anyway.
  • Religious people with particularly bizarre, strident or bigoted beliefs (despite being an atheist I don’t consider all believers to be “morons” – they have to have a special edge to qualify).
  • Politicians who lie. So basically: politicians.
  • Journalists who spread lies and myths either deliberately or through their own stupidity.
  • Members and supporters of particularly moronic groups.
  • And many more… I reserve the right to change my definition of moron whenever it suits me.

Moron Alphabet: H-J

(This is the second in a series. Click for part one, Moron Alphabet A-G)

H is for High Speed Rail

A while back, I was staying in New York and had to travel for a meeting in Washington. The train is my favourite mode of transport, so I decided to travel that way, rather than fly or rent a car. The ticket wasn’t cheap, but the carriage was very comfortable, and almost empty. We passed through some nice scenery, and I got a chance to read, but I was surprised how slowly we travelled. A journey of about 200 miles took four hours each way.

Trains have been with us for about 200 years, and revolutionised transport – first in Britain, then around the world. America’s railroad system, in its day, changed the face of America forever, and was the world’s most advanced; but as oil and car companies became more powerful, they lobbied for governments to invest in freeways rather than rail, and rail investment, particularly in the US but also in the UK, was sidelined. While Japan, mainland Europe and eventually even the UK and China invested in faster, more efficient rail technology, US transport has become slower and more expensive in recent decades. Sitting in traffic jams has become a way of life – and of course innovation has come to the aid of the motorist; in the form of more comfortable seats, better music systems, and drive-thru restaurants. But no actual solution to reducing journey times.

In France meanwhile, trains have run at up to 357mph (in test conditions) and can complete scheduled journeys at average speeds of up to 173mph. Modern electric trains use far less energy per passenger/mile than cars. So switching people and goods from road to rail, especially as oil prices rise, should be a no-brainer, right?

Sadly the oil industry doesn’t see it that way, for obvious reasons. And since Congress is so generously supported by oil “donations”, Congressmen don’t see it that way either. So American cities grind to a halt, and people flee to Exurbia (aka the-middle-of-nowhere) to escape traffic and air pollution.

Finally, America has a President who values rail, and seeks to invest an initial $53bn. Which predictably has morons screaming about the outrageous cost (with encouragement of course from the pro-oil media).

So let’s look at some numbers: America uses about 21m barrels of oil daily, of which 45% is used to run cars. At a price of $87.11 per barrel, that costs $1,829,310,000 a day, or $667,698,150,000 a year – well over ten times the amount proposed for investment high-speed rail. Now you add hidden costs: oil wars, “aid” given to Middle Eastern states, terrorism generated by support for Middle Eastern dictatorships (and resulting homeland security costs), the cost of damage from oil spills, the health care costs of air pollution from cars, the economic hit of slow journeys and many other factors – not to mention climate change, which has huge costs of its own. Economically, it’s insane not to invest $billions, even $trillions in modern rail technology.

Like I said, it’s a no-brainer; however, brains seem to be in short supply in government.

I is for The Iraq War

Perhaps this subject’s been done-to-death… but given some of the discussions I have on Twitter, it seems the facts still haven’t sunk in yet. So here’s an eight-point quick summary of known-knowns, just as a refresher.

  1. Saddam was certainly an asshole. He was America’s asshole.
  2. Saddam’s chemical weapons were partly supplied by his good friend and ally: Ronald Reagan (with Donald Rumsfeld assisting).
  3. From 1991 to 1998, UN weapons inspectors spent years finding and removing WMDs from Iraq. They were confident that all significant capacity was gone by 1998.
  4. In 2002, as the Bush administration tried to build the WMD case, the chief UN inspector Scott Ritter (a Republican who’d voted for Bush), pointed out that the WMD case was fabricated. And if he didn’t know about Iraq’s WMDs, who did?
  5. In November 2002, the UN inspectors returned to Iraq. They toured all known sites for several weeks and found nothing of significance. In response to US claims that they have “intelligence” of WMDs existing, they asked the US for the locations they should inspect, and were refused this information. This is the single most compelling evidence that Bush/Blair had already decided to go to war, and that the WMD claim was false.
  6. Robin Cook, UK government minister who (as former Foreign Minister) had access to secret intelligence, resigned over the war on 18 March 2003. His resignation speech (12 min video) summarises well the reasons why the war was unjustified.
  7. Ultimately, Bush’s “coalition of the willing” comprised one true partner: the UK. And the UK was led to war against the will of the population by Tony Blair – which ultimately led to the end of his political career. The only population involved that backed the war was the US (Israel was also reportedly on-side, but they’re guaranteed to support any action that involves killing Arabs).
  8. Long-term damage from the war is widespread and ongoing. The most conservative estimate of war-related deaths comes from Iraq Body Count, with a low estimate of at least 99,711 Iraqi lives lost. Iraq’s infrastructure is still not at the level it was pre-war. The financial cost was huge; the cost to American and British standing in the Middle East was also large, at a time when China needs oil and is making new friends around the world.

J is for Judgement Day

Having created us all (some time between 6,000 to 12,000 years ago), God sat back and watched us fuck up. From time to time he gave us a little guidance, usually in the form of killing everything that moved. Having obviously received some kind of anger-management therapy, God later sent his son Jesus to guide us. For someone whose Father was best known for flying into genocidal rages, Jesus turned out to be a Really Nice Bloke. Sadly, the Romans didn’t appreciate nice blokes, so they killed him. But the Bible is pretty clear that Jesus will return, and this time his coming will herald Judgement Day. Strange as it may seem, the entirety of history turns out to be a very difficult test, and Judgement Day is when we get our results.

In the light of modern science, this seems unlikely to many of us. Luckily, God foresaw our skepticism, and so he created the Bible Belt to keep his word alive. Thanks to the good Evangelists of the Southern US, we know that sometime soon, believers will float up naked into the sky, and then Jesus will return (there seems to be disagreement about the timing of this – it could take up to seven more years), at which point the Last Judgement will take place.

Given that Evangelical Christians have spent their time abstaining from sex and listening to crappy music in readiness for the Rapture, it’s understandable that they’re impatient for this to happen, so it’s unsurprising that predictions of the End Of Days come frequently. Enter Harold Camping, an 89 year-old Christian radio broadcaster, who is predicting the second coming will take place on 21st May 2011. His web site makes for entertaining reading, and he appears to have at least some followers. So pencil 21 May into your diaries – we’ll catch up on 22nd to review progress.

See also:
Moron Alphabet A-G
Moron Alphabet K-M

Moron Alphabet: A-G

A is for Alinskyite

Bear with me on this, because I’m a little confused about it myself. Saul Alinsky was a left-wing American community organiser who died in 1972. He seems to have been an interesting guy, but to be totally honest, I’d never heard of him until a few months ago, when I was accused of being an Alinskyite on Twitter, and not wanting to reveal my ignorance, I Googled him. It’s said that Barack Obama, another community organiser at one point, was influenced by some of Alinsky’s organisational ideas or tactics. As far as I can tell, the Alinskyite handle was one of the many genius/insane creations of Glenn Beck (see B). As happens so often, Beck introduced his idiot viewers to a new word, and they then accused everyone on Twitter who disagreed with them of being an Alinskyite. This was a passing trend as Beck introduced new words for his fans to play with, and they quickly forgot it.

B is for Beck: Glenn Beck

The King Moron of all Moronia. Glenn Beck, a US radio and TV presenter, is undoubtedly very stupid, but he’s also smart enough to know that power and money can be gained from frightening and confusing people even dumber than himself. He gets very worked up, often to tears, about things that he completely made up. His moron viewers then unleash themselves on Twitter, spreading his contagion of fear, rage and hate. Though I’m not a Fox News viewer, I know when Beck is on TV, and what he says, by watching the explosions of Twitter-panic (Twanic?) that occur during and after his shows. Beck excels in calling people Nazis, which is ironic considering that his tactics closely mirror those used by the Nazis in persuading Germans that Jews wanted to eat their babies. Beck always has a demon-character to illustrate that the world is on the verge of catastrophe; Alinsky (See A), George Soros, and Barack HUSSEIN Obama are just some examples.

C is for Commie

General-purpose insult used to attack anyone who disagrees with a range of right-wing views. This is obviously pretty old and tired, having been thrown around since at least the 1950s, and is largely superceded by more creative terms, many invented by Glenn Beck (see B). The fear of Communism itself was stoked up in the US during the cold war, which Americans were told was ideological, whereas it was primarily a competition between two rival empires for resources and markets. It should be noted that Russia (the original “commie” target) was a pretty nasty and authoritarian place both before the rise and after the fall of communism, but it’s the communist era that most intrigues morons. So what if journalists still get assassinated? At least they were free to write what they wanted (before getting killed for it).

D is for Drugs

As every moron knows, Drugs Are Bad, M’kay? And that’s about ALL they know. Of course, banning dozens of substances, most of which are safer than alcohol or tobacco, seems moronic, but the main reason is to convince morons that it’s OK to fund expensive wars in Latin America, and also to persuade them that in free countries, it’s OK for the police to smash people’s doors in and stop them randomly in the street (you know, like in a police state, but… different). According to the Drug War Clock, the US alone has spent almost $4 billion dollars on fighting (and losing) this war this year so far (and it’s early-February). That’s big business. It’s not about the drugs… it’s about the money, morons.

E is for EDL

Or as they like to chant: E-E-E-D-L! The English Defence League is the latest in an illustrious, unbroken line of British fascists, going all the way back to Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in the 1930s. Fascism has always adapted with the times; in the 30s, Mosley targeted the evil Jew; then when that became tainted with the discovery of Hitler’s horrors, he turned his attention to black Caribbean immigrants, who (of course) were a threat to everything British. In the 1970s, the National Front picked up the far-right baton, targeting blacks and “Pakis” (meaning anyone from the Indian subcontinent). With their collapse came the rise of the British National Party, which tried a new approach of suits and “respectability”. But 9/11 changed the far-right. Before the attacks, the BNP’s main targets were Asian immigrants, regardless of their religion. After 9/11 the message stayed the same, but the target morphed from “Asians” to “Muslims”. With the failure of the BNP to secure an electoral base, the far-right split and returned to street thuggery in the form of the EDL. This claims to only be against “extreme Islam”, but that story falls apart when EDL members are watched – they seem to hate all Muslims, and are often caught complaining about immigrants in general, including Catholic Poles. Nazi salutes are often spotted at EDL marches.

The EDL would be more frightening if its supporters weren’t semi-literate and prone to racist outbursts that spoil the “we’re just defending England” message. Follow @Exposingtweets on Twitter for an exposé of these morons that will both concern you and make you laugh out loud.

F is for Fox News

The Mecca of Moronitude: American TV channel that has little to do with News (after all, to make “news” you need “journalists”) and much to do with right-wing propaganda, doom-laden predictions, victimisation of “progressives”, pro-Republican electioneering disguised as comment, and outright lunacy (see B). Fox can’t broadcast as Fox News in many countries, as regulations require that news channels carry some news, and attempt some level of balance. But in America, free speech is enforced by the constitution – sadly this being interpreted as “any idiot can say anything about anyone”. Fox is just a part of the global media empire of Bond-villain-type, Rupert Murdoch, the puppeteer for morons everywhere. Murdoch has cleverly cornered the moron market in a number of countries, especially the US (via Fox) and the UK (via the Sun newspaper) and controls well over half of all Australia’s media output. When the world ends, it’s pretty likely that Murdoch will somehow be involved. The only upsides are that 1) he’s getting pretty old now, 2) he doesn’t really seem to understand new media. Of course, Fox wouldn’t be a great problem if there weren’t millions of people who get all their opinions from it. In a sane world, watching Fox News would bar someone from ever owning a gun or having kids.

G is for Gay

“Gay” (also known as Homosexuality by scientists) is a great problem for the modern moron. Back in the day, it was possible to just hate gays and denounce their perversion, without having to think too hard. In fact, many morons still take this approach: examples being Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran’s moron President) and many other religious conservatives. However the Western, right-wing moron (whether religious-right or secular fascist) is presented with a dilemma. These types used to hate gays, and even attack them. But now their fear and hatred for Muslims is paramount, and one of the reasons they claim to hate Muslims is that “Muslims don’t like gays”. Apparently. They don’t let facts cloud their judgement – for example, that in the 1960s, homosexuals who were persecuted in Europe would take vacations in Morocco, with its more tolerant attitude. Religious-right morons still oppose gay marriage, naturally – they have nothing against gays (they say through gritted teeth), but the Bible says that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And the Bible, having been written by ancient Jewish bigots, is of course right. Never mind that the Muslim rules on homosexuality come from the same root as the Jewish and Christian rules… this is the kind of problem that makes morons’ heads explode, a sound that can often be heard throughout Twitter.