Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

These words of the Declaration of Independence have been quoted for decades, like scripture.

But where did these words come from? 

On May 27, 1776, Virginia circulated it's first proposal of 'The Virginia Declaration of Rights' for discussion. George Mason was asked to draft it. His first paragraph was as follows:

'THAT all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights, of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; among which are, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.'

This statement was based on the colonial claims that Britain was out to enslave them in violation of natural law. This was a statement of natural law in it's purest form.

Upon reviewing the draft, Virginia slave holders were outraged. The paragraph clearly denied the basic principal of slavery in America, that children born of slave women belonged to their masters. And they would have none of it. The word 'born' was removed and the phrase 'when they entered a state of society' was added, (which exluded slaves who had not 'entered society').

As a Virginian, Thomas Jefferson closely followed the events that transpired at the Virginia Convention while he prepared his draft of the Declaration of Independence for all the colonies in June, 1776.  So he knew as a slave holder he could not include the phrase all men are 'born free and equal.'  
But if he struck that whole phrase from the Declaration, the British would accuse the colonies of declaring independence so they could enslave black people. Also, the phrase ensuring the right to obtain and possess property would confirm the accusation, since slave holders perceived slaves as their property. Jefferson concluded that the problem with the Vriginia declaration was the precise nature of its language. 

He decided to use language that was cleverly ambiguous. For his draft Jefferson changed 'born' to 'created', which did not specify the process of birth by a woman. What happened after creation was not discussed. He also removed any mention of property and inserted the 'phrase pursuit of happiness', which could mean anything. The result was the 'lofty, poetic' language our forefathers held so dear to their hearts.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

The phrase has since been considered a hallmark statement in democratic constitutions and similar human rights instruments, many of which have adopted the phrase or variants thereof.
All the while, historians have conveniently failed to make known that Jefferson cleverly crafted that first paragraph of the Declaration so that slave holders could maintain their slaves. 
They have told us that Jefferson did hate slavery. But one can be against slavery and black people at the same time. These were practical men. They knew their nation wouldn't last long containing a large potentially rebellious population of Africans who had been so severely mistreated. That's why many were against continued slavery.
It never affected their racism or attitudes of white supremacy. Here are some other quotes from Jefferson historians "forget" to include in his narrative.

When the black man is 'freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.'

"Whites have “flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form”. Even black men prefer white women over their own, just as orangutans prefer black women over their own."

* "In memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous."

* Black people are better at music, but: "Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved."
(That sounds like a joke.)

* Black people are brave, but: "this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present."

 ~ Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia” (1787)

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

How far can we expect to get trying hold people to words they never really believed in the first place?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Myth Of Epic Proportions

Racialy speaking, what is a Caucasian? There's no such thing. 
Christoph Meiners

Caucasians are a mythical race of people invented by German philosopher and 'historian' Christoph Meiners.
We have all been told, or have all assumed, that there was some historical significance to the term 'Caucasian race'…but there is none.  
Meiners is considered an early practioner of scientific racism. A pioneer in that lofty profession of categorizing and demeaning different groups of people around the world while conveniently placing white people at the top of a supposed hierarchy. 

It's called scientific racism but it's a little light on the scientific side. Try to find the science:

"The Caucasian race” was coined by the German philosopher Christoph Meiners in his 'The Outline of History of Mankind' (1785). In Meiners’ unique racial classification, there were only two racial divisions (Racen): Caucasians ('white and beautiful') and Mongolians ('brown and ugly')."

He considered Caucasians to be more physically attractive than Mongolians, notably because they had paler skin; Caucasians were also more sensitive and more morally virtuous than Mongolians. Later he would make similar distinctions within the Caucasian group, concluding that the Germans were the most attractive and virtuous people on earth. (Meiners just happened to be German). The name "Caucasian" derived from the Southern Caucasus region (or what is now the countries of ArmeniaAzerbaijan and Georgia), because he considered the people of this region to be the most physically attractive.

(Meiners also claimed the Negro felt less pain than any other race and lacked in emotions. Meiners wrote that the Negro had thick nerves and thus was not sensitive like the other races, he went as far to say that the Negro has “no human, barely any animal feeling” he described a story where a Negro was condemned to death by being burned alive, half way through the burning the Negro asked to smoke a pipe and smoked it like nothing was happening while he continued to be burned alive.)

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Meiners' term was given wider circulation in the 1790s by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a German professor of medicine and member of the British Royal Society, who is considered one of the founders of the discipline of anthropology.
He noted: "Caucasian variety—I have taken the name of this variety from Mount Caucasus, both because its neighborhood, and especially its southern slope, produces the most beautiful race of men, I mean the Georgian; and because all physiological reasons converge to this, that in that region, if anywhere, it seems we ought with the greatest probability to place the autochthones (original members) of mankind."1

Blumenbach also held to the "degenerative hypothesis" of racial origins. Blumenbach claimed that Adam and Eve were Caucasian (Georgian) inhabitants of Asia, and that other races came about by degeneration from environmental factors such as the sun and poor diet.

Georgian men in their traditional dress

Now, we are told that race is only a social construct and then we are told 'it's better not to bring up race'. So the construct basically remains. Racism is built into the walls of the social structure in which we live or rather it is the walls themselves. 
Why after over 200 years has this never been brought to light  (in the mainstream) and clarified? Why not expose and drop the use of the term 'Caucasian?' 

Now imagine if black people tried to name themselves.  It would be the subject of mainstream debate, historical scrutiny, academic investigation, critique and derision.  Imagine if our chosen name was based on, "we are really good looking and other races are really ugly."

Why has the origin of 'Caucasian' never been discussed?
Tiblisi, Georgia, Caucasus Region

The reason is because there is a cultural war going on. That's what racism is. It's people saying 'our culture is better than yours'. 
 We wonder why, although nothing is ever spelled out explicitly, our children always end up picking up the white dolls in experiments - no matter what year it is, 1959, 1999, or 2009. 

"Our culture is better than yours" is built into most Western institutions, just as it's built into the definition of "Caucasian". It's also unsustainable. Many spiritual cultures from ancient times expressed the fact that all human beings are interconnected parts of a whole. What hurts one, hurts all; what benefits one benefits all. Beauty manifests in creation in many different ways, so to establish a 'scientific' hierarchy based on what is 'attractive' and what is 'ugly' is...well...interesting. 

We may not know or fully understand what would make Meiners and scores of generations following him think this is an acceptable way to view the world, but we will never understand by anything by ignoring it.

1.(Blumenbach, De generis humani varietate nativa (3rd ed. 1795), trans. Bendyshe (1865). Quoted e.g. in Arthur Keith, '"Blumenbach's Centenary", Man (journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland), v.40, p.82-85 (1940)).

Sunday, October 19, 2014

We Are A People: 'Asabiyyah'

There is a trend among those who study African history or Afrocentric ideology to view Islam or any one who is Muslim as not truly African or one controlled by outside belief systems. This of course sounds a little absurd considering individuals like Malcolm X, Khalid Muhammd, Muhammad Ali, Cheik Anta Diop etc., were all at the vanguard of black self determination and progress- and were Muslim.

At the same time there are currently black (mainly Sunni "Orthodox") Muslims who do follow 'Middle Eastern' dictates in terms of how they dress, eat, walk, talk, greet, etc., by way of the Hadith (believed sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad).

So what's at the bottom line of all this? 
What is the concern of those in the 'conscious Afrikan centered community'? 

At the end of the day the question isn't really whether the Prophet Muhammad was black or if Islam originated in Arabia, or whether the original Arabs were black or not 1; the real question is, when push comes to shove which side will these brothers and sisters be on? Is their loyalty more with Islam or with their own black people?

Currently, most orthodox Muslims are being encouraged by Sunni or Arab scholars to abandon their 'nationalism' and join the single, world community of Islam. The stated position in this campaign is that 'Nationalism is Haram (prohibited) according to Islam.' 

They are interpreting nationalism as 'Asabiyyah' (tribalism). 

Holy Qur'an 3:105: "And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah and be not divided."

 This is the Hadith they have been circulating to support this view:
 'It is narrated by Abu Daud that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said, "He is not one us who calls for `Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for `Asabiyyah, or who dies for `Asabiyyah."

But what does Asabiyyah really mean? Is it so bad? Aren't there Iraqi, Somali, Hausa, Iranian, Morrocan, Ethiopian (Harari) muslims and others across the globe who are proud of their heritage and their national identity?

The Quran also says, HQ 49:13 "O mankind, surely We have created you male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may know each other; surely the most noble of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty); surely Allah is Knowing, Aware."

So why would the Sunnis have us not identify ourselves as nations and tribes if Allah says in the Qur'an he made us into nations and tribes, so we may know each other? If we all blend together as one, indistinguishable group how can we know each other?

What really is Asabiyyah? Is it nationalism to love one's own people? It has been related that this was actually asked of the prophet Muhammad in his lifetime. 

 It was related; "(O Prophet), is it tribalism for a man to love his people?, and he said: ''No, tribalism is to support your people in an injust cause." [Ahmad] 

Moreover, Bint Waathilah Ibn Al-Asqa'  narrated that she heard her father saying: "I said: 'O Prophet of Allah, what is tribalism?’ He replied: 'It is to help your people in an injust cause."

This is actually excellent guidance not only for Muslims, Afrocentrists, or Black Nationalists but for black people in America as a whole.

The Arabic word, Al-'Asabiyyah, is derived linguistically from the word Al-'Asab, which means holding or encompassing.

It is a 'bond'; a sense of kinship,  as felt between family members. Ibn Khaldun, historian and founding father of modern sociology, developed a whole concept of asabiyah, or "social cohesion". 
He stated this bond, Asabiyyah, exists at any level of civilization, from nomadic society to states and empires. It was seen as similar to the modern idea of social capital arising in social networks. It is cohesiveness, compassion, unity.

This is one thing black people in America can stand to increase - social cohesion, especially in the face of a nationwide media outcry against racism. Somehow the need to maintain a sense of unity and cohesion among black people (in the face of discrimination and racism) has been viewed as racism itself. We're at a point where many of us feel it is more noble to submerge or abandon our love of each other for a "higher love for all mankind regardless of color."

But as we see with the statement by the prophet Muhammad, loving one's own people and embracing mankind as a whole do not have to be mutually exclusive. Asabiyyah isn't about race or color. It's about kinship based on shared experiences and a shared homeland. It's no different than someone thinking if you are a Yankee fan and love the Yankees, you cannot at the same time be an American and love your country. Or if you are a member of the Johnson family and love your people you cannot love other black people as well. This is all just that ridiculous. 

The other helpful aspect is in the wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad's statement - that tribalism is to help your people or support them in an unjust cause. This serves as a great place to draw the line in our support of 'blackness'. This means we don't have to support every silly, ignorant, self destructive type of behavior in our community just because it's considered 'black'. If it's unjust or if it harms us as a whole, we can safely say we don't support it…and still, or rather because we, love our people.

1. Actually - "Ibn Man ūr (d. 1311), author of the most authoritative classical Arabic lexicon, Lisān alarab, notes the opinion that the phrase aswad al-jilda, ‘Blackskinned,’ meant khāli al arab, “the pure Arabs,” “because the color of most of the Arabs is dark (al- udma). In other words, blackness of skin among the Arabs originally suggested purity."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Is Christianity The 'White Man's' Religion?

Yes, let's get down to the basics. But first let's deal with the obvious questions.  Why should it matter? Well, religion affects and controls our most deeply held beliefs, our loyalties, the way we see good, evil, right, wrong; it affects how we see sexuality, how we choose our spouses (we want to be 'equally yoked'), it affects our views of the earth, human nature, our individual identity, the way we feel and think, etc. So that's pretty important.

Now, what's wrong with white people? Nothing. What's wrong with white people controlling the way we think, believe, structure our families, choose our friends, see the world…? Well, there you go.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
But those who put together Christianity are saying, "before you can get to Jesus you have to go through us. We order the thought, we have required beliefs you must follow when approaching Jesus."
So (if this is true), Christianity then, is set up as kind of a roadblock or a mental tollbooth one has to pass in order to get to Jesus or God.
Keep in mind that Jesus wasn't European and never set foot in Europe.
Now, let's look at Christianity and see what came from Jesus and what came from 'the Whiteman' or Europe.

1. The Doctrine of Original SinThe Christian concept of Original Sin was first alluded to in the 2nd century by Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (France) and was later developed by Augustine and John Cassian. Irenaeus believed that Adam's sin had grave consequences for humanity, that it is the source of human sinfulness, mortality and enslavement to sin, and that all human beings participate in his sin and share his guilt. Where he got this belief from is not clear, it was not a doctrine familiar to ancient Hebrews and Jesus certainly never taught it.

So the idea that all humanity was born into sin is…. European.

2. The Trinity 
The doctrine of the trinity is found no where in the bible. It was first mentioned in form by Ignatius of Antioch around 110 AD, exhorting obedience to "Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit". The term “trinity” was coined by Tertullian, the son of a Roman centurion, more than 200 years after Jesus left Jerusalem. Jesus never taught about a trinity and the only mentions of it in the Bible are in 1 John 5:7 and Matthew 28:19-20. Modern biblical scholars now admit both verses were fabricated and added into the texts by officials of the Church.  In 325, the Council of Nicaea, under Roman Emperor Constantine, adopted the Nicene Creed which described Jesus as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father". It became the hallmark of Christianity and would become law for the Church and the Christian empire. Those who didn't accept it would be punished by death.
But the doctrine came from... Europeans.

Mark 12:29 "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is One Lord" .

3. Hell In the 1611 King James version of the Old Testament, 'hell' is mentioned over 50 times. In most newer translations, the word once referred to as 'hell' is now more accurately translated as 'grave' from the Hebrew sheol (grave). So where did the word Hell come from? Hel derives from Proto-Germanic, and in English the word Hell is from the Old English forms hel and helle. The concept of an underworld location teeming with demons and presided over by a death god (Hades or the devil) comes from Norse (Northern European) mythology and the Greek concept of Hades. 
In the New testament, Gehenna (translated in the KJV as 'hell') is mentioned in parables not in literal context. Gehenna was the valley of Hinnom, literally the valley of the groans of the children. It was a deep, narrow gorge on the south side of Jerusalem

So there is no hell, as imagined, all these years - it comes directly from... Europe.

4. The symbol of the crossHow did the Cross come to be the symbol of Christianity? This comes from Constantine  (r. 306–337). Constantine reports having a vision of a sign either while sleeping or seen in the sky, that came to be identified with Christ. With the vision and dream he saw the words, In Hoc Signo Vinces, "In this sign conquer", and assured his victory over Maxentius. He placed the sign at the top of his standard and on the shields of his men and won the battle of Milvian Bridge outside of Rome in 312.  This victory made Constantine the emperor of the West. This sign, a Chi Rho, replaced the eagle as the military standard for the legions of the Roman Army.  Over time this sign was gradually replaced by the cross.

This one was definitely originated…in Europe.

5. Sunday Church - One of the most recognizable aspects of being Christian is going to Church on Sunday to worship and hear the word. It's often used as a test as to whether a person is a good Christian or not. People ask, "how often do you go to Church?" But did Jesus require us to go to Church? Or did Europeans...? Of course Jesus never mentioned Sunday service. Yet many Christians believe they are required to attend church and use the following verse as proof that this is biblically sound:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25. This is simply saying to maintain community and encourage each other in faith, daily. Also Hebrews 3:13. But these are Paul's teachings not Jesus'. Paul never met Jesus and wasn't taught by him.

The sabbath day in Hebrew culture and in the Torah was Saturday. Sabbath is seven in Hebrew and indicated the seventh day of the week; the day of rest. When the Romans took over Christianity they outlawed the observance of the Sabbath and deemed it 'judaizing'. On 3 March 321, Constantine I decreed that 'Sunday (dies Solis called the Lord's day)  will be observed as the Roman day of rest' [CJ3.12.2]. Then observing the Sabbath was outlawed at the Council in Laodicea. “Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday, but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s Day they shall especially honor, and, as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out from Christ.”
Laodicea was a Roman province in Modern day Turkey, or...Europe.

6. The name Christ/Christian Christós is a Greek rendering of the hebrew 'Masaha' which meant to wipe with oil. This was an old hebrew rite where a new king or prophet was anointed or wiped with olive oil. Samuel was anointed as was David, Solomon, Jehu and Elisha [1Kings 19:16]. Messiah and Masaha, Məšîḥā (to annoint) are the same in his language of Syriac Aramaic. The word annoint simply means "to pour oil on or smear with ointment. (The word ointment itself is Old French for "smear".) So the term Christ, with all the additional meanings is Greek and would have been completely foreign to Jesus. Greek, along with the word Christ are both...European.

"Fred, you old heathen."

7. Heathens/Pagans People who aren't "Christians", are often called 'heathen'. But what does this word really mean? Originally, the English word “heathen” simply meant “the people out on the heath” (heath - a shrubland habitat).  It was a contemptuous word that town-people used for the poorer or rural people who lived outside the town walls. (The word “peasant”, which is of French origin, from pais, “district”, “country”, has the same [contemptuous] meaning. “Country people”, “rural people”.) In the New Testament, what some bible-translators have rendered as “heathen” (or “pagan” or “gentile”), is in the Greek text ethnos (“nation”), ethnoi (“nations”),ethnikos (“of the nations”) or ethnikôs (“after the manner of the nations”). In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word which some bible-translators have rendered as “heathen”, is gowy, plural goyim, meaning “nations”.

In other words, where the scriptures are simply referring to "other nations" they have been translated as heathen. This misunderstanding is particularly...English. 

8. Jesus' death as an atonement for the sins of mankind - This is the core of Christianity, yet looking for this doctrine in all of Jesus' teachings you will be hard pressed to find any mention of it.

Most were taught to believe the doctrine is based in Luke 22:19-21.
St. Anslem
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table."

However, scholars now believe the passage italicized above was added by a scribe of the second century, some sixty or seventy years after the Gospel was first placed in circulation.

 The other possible support for this belief comes from Mark 10:45 -  "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." There are numerous conflicting interpretations of what this means. (If this quote is authentic) the natural interpretation is that Jesus knew the risks he took in teaching the truth and was willing to make that sacrifice in order to free people's minds and souls from ignorance and darkness. It's the same as saying "Martin Luther King, willingly laid down his life for his people." 

However, the prevailing view for over 1000 years in Europe was that - Adam and Eve sold humanity over to the Devil at the time of the Fall; hence, justice required that God pay the Devil a ransom to free us from the Devil's clutches. God, however, tricked the Devil into accepting Christ's death as a ransom, for the Devil did not realize that Christ could not be held in the bonds of death. Once the Devil accepted Christ's death as a ransom, this theory concluded, justice was satisfied and God was able to free us from Satan's grip.

“Archbishop Anselm, argued against the then-current version of ransom view, saying that Satan, being himself a rebel and outlaw, could never have a just claim against humans. Anselm came up with the satisfaction theory which teaches that Christ suffered as a substitute on behalf of humankind satisfying the demands of God's honor by his infinite merit.

Anselm regarded his satisfaction view of the atonement as a distinct improvement over the classic ransom theory of the atonement, which he saw as inadequate. Thomas Aquinas finally came up with and codified the substitution theory, where -  “Christ is a sacrifice by God on behalf of humanity, taking humanity’s debt for sin upon himself, and propitiating God’s wrath.”
Whether any of this is true is highly debatable. One thing is certain, Jesus never taught anything about this doctrine - it's development is ultimately...European.

9. God made man in his own image - Nope. The original Hebrew states in Genesis 1:27 "And the powerful one filled man with his shadow." The English mistranslation states, "So God created man in his own image."

The word used for 'created' is 'bara' which means filled or fattened in other places in the Torah. This implies placing divine qualities on the inside of man rather than saying we look like God, which caused illustrators and 'believers' to think God was anthromorphic or in other words that he was a man up in the sky, or 'the man upstairs'. But this was not the concept ancient Hebrews had of God. In Hebrew and Aramaic there is no equivalent for the pronoun "it". Objects are described as either 'he' or 'she', but in truth God would have no gender. So the whole notion of God looking like Zeus or an old bearded Italian man didn't come from Jesus but from...Europeans.

Ask your pastor about these doctrines.
And if you can't let them go, ask yourselves, is a Christian one who follows Jesus? Or one follows Christianity?

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32