30 July 2013

The Exodus is a myth

Ancient Israel as a kingdom with a defined territory renowned throughout the ancient world is nothing more than a myth believed by only a minority of those called Hebrew in the first century CE (the Pharisees and their followers), before the catastrophic events of the Great Jewish Revolt of 66-73 CE, the Kitos War of 115-117, and the Bar Kokhba War of 132-135 CE.

Contrary to the account of the Torah, the Canaanite-speaking Hebrews were not invaders from outside, neither from Egypt nor from Mesopotamia, but rather arose as a people in situ from among the city-states which dotted the region.  They were not “wandering Arameans who went down into Egypt and became slaves”, though they almost certainly were at least semi-nomadic.

The earliest mention of an entity referred to as Israel is on the Merneptah Stele of 1207 BCE describing that Pharaoh’s victory over a number of enemies in the Levant, including Gezer, Yanoam (Tell el-Na’am), and Ashkelon.  Written “Isiriar”, the hieroglyphs on the stele indicate a semi-nomadic Canaanite tribe in the hills of Canaan among Canaanite cities.  All the material remains of early “Israelite” settlement in the hills is of Canaanite origin, the only significant difference being a total absence of pig bones.

By contrast, the Torah describes how the children of Israel, aka Jacob, grandchildren of the “wandering Aramean” who travelled west from “Ur of the Chaldees” went down into Egypt and became slaves, then escaped after their god sent ten plagues that devastated their oppressors, only to be chased by the army of the unnamed Pharoah which was drowned in the Red Sea.  This is the pivotal event of the Torah, the only scriptures accepted as such by all Hebrews, Samaritan and Jew, at the turn of the era.

As inspiring as the story is, it never happened.  It couldn’t have happened, except maybe in an alternate universe.  Aside from the utter dearth of physical evidence of such a stupendous migration (2 million+ people) despite over a century of search, there is simply no room in the verified, recorded, objective, empirical history for it to have occurred.

After more than a hundred years of searching, archaeologists abandoned the fruitless and futile task of seeking physical remains of the Exodus and the 40 years wandering in the Sinai.  Even with all that effort, none had been found.  When infrared photography from satellite proved North Africa was once a lush, well-watered rainforest and that the Arabian peninsula was once a verdant landscape criss-crossed by dozens of rivers, the hopeful tried that. 

Despite the fact that scientists were able to chart the course of Arabian rivers that had not existed for tens of millennia and that these techniques had been able to identify Neolithic campsites used once by a small band of hunters, nothing was found.  In truth, the Sinai could not possibly support two million plus persons for even a short time, much less forty years, even with divine intervention from multiple deities.

Now we can explore why the historical record doesn’t have any room for The Exodus.

Two of the oldest, and once most widely-respected (as they still are by fundamentalist and evangelical Christians, especially in America, and by Orthodox Jews) timelines of Biblical chronology are the rabbinic timeline produced in the 2nd century CE called the Seder Olam Rabbah and the chronology published in the 17th century by the (Anglican) Church of Ireland’s Most Rev. James Ussher called Annals of the Old and New Testaments.

The Most Rev. James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh in the Church of Ireland, was a very learned man who used his wide and deep knowledge of scripture and ancient history from authors contemporary to their time (or near so) to create a timeline of the events of the Christian Holy Bible and a little ways beyond.  This timeline, published separately in 1650 and 1654 and as a whole in 1658, is called the Annals of the Old and New Testaments.

In case you’re wondering, by the way, Ussher dated Creation to the eve of 23 October 4004 BCE in the Julian calendar (or 21 September 4004 BCE in the Gregorian calendar) which is where that date comes from.  The rabbinic chronology, sanctified by its inclusion in the Talmud, gives the year 3761 BCE.  Ussher’s chronology runs to the end of the Great Jewish Revolt of 66-73 CE, a bit of a misnomer since the Samaritans joined in. 

The rabbis give the same dates for that penultimate event, which is probably a good thing for them since the war was very well documented.  Unfortunately for the rabbis, they didn’t always choose to date events according to empirical fact; their dates don’t enter our version of space-time reality until the conquest of the Levant by Pompey the Great in 63 BCE.  They even misdate the Hasmonean Revolt three decades late.

For all the believers in the fantasies of the other well-known Church of Ireland divine, John Nelson Darby, at the end of his work Ussher quite correctly states the predictions of the Olivet discourse were fulfilled by the events of that war, which pretty much trashes the idea that the “restoration of Israel” is a sign of the “End Times” since Darby’s Restorationism is built around the idea that the Olivet discourse has yet to be fulfilled.

While his overall dates of known events correspond to our reality, Ussher sucks at math as bad as the rabbis.  Ussher gives the date of 1706 BCE for the children of Israel going down into Egypt, while the rabbis give the date of 1522 BCE.  Ussher gives the date of 1491 BCE for the Exodus, while the rabbis give the date of 1312 BCE. 

In Ussher’s case the difference is 215 years while for the rabbis the difference is 210 years.  The Bible gives three different figures for the lengths of stay in Egypt: 400 years in Genesis 15:13, about 160 years in Genesis 15:16 and I Chronicles 6:1-3, and the third depends on whether one is looking at Exodus 12:40 in the Septuagint version, which gives 215 years, or in the Masoretic version, which gives 430 years.  Information elsewhere (Exodus 6:16-20; 1 Chronicles 6:1; 1 Chronicles 23:6-13) allows for a sojourn of no more than 350 years.

Interesting that Ussher chose the Septuagint’s figure for his chronology since the Bible he used on a daily basis as Archbishop of the branch of the Church of England known as the Church of Ireland based its translation of the Old Testament almost solely on the Masoretic version.  If they realized this, many American Christian fundamentalists with their Ussher-incorporating Schofield Reference Bibles might experience cognitive dissonance, at least until they could bring to bear the same contortionist reasoning with which they justify so many of their fallacies.

In the 20th century, Biblical archaeologist and theologian Edwin Thiele suggested a date of 1450 BCE, in the midst of the reign of Pharoah Thutmose III.  When this was proven archaeologically impossible by the second half of the 20th century, later Biblical archaeologist William Albright proposed a period of 1250-1200 BCE, but this idea too met its inevitable disavowment.

So, from the earliest proposed date to the latest, we get a space of years in which The Exodus could have occurred from 1491 BCE to 1200 BCE. 

There actually were people from Canaan who went down to Lower Egypt, beginning around 1800 BCE, but not as mendicants who became slaves and they were certainly not monotheists or even close to it.  Called Hyksos by the Egyptians, they arrived as welcome immigrants with much needed skills, soldiers, sailors, craftsman, and artisans.  From their gods and names in surviving inscriptions, it is clear they were Canaanite.

The Hyksos referred to their chief deity as Baal, and they also brought along Anath, Resheph, and Astarte, among others.  Eventually, they identified Baal with Seth, and began to worship him as such.  In Egyptian religion by that time, Seth had become the brother and archenemy of Horus, the same way that in the Levant the god Yaw was brother and archenemy to Hadad (both of whom bore the title Baal, incidentally) and that in Lower Mesopotamia the god Sin was brother and archenemy to the god Marduk.

With the slow disintegration of the Middle Kingdom, they found their way into the bureaucracy, even into the viziership.  By the 17th century BCE, they formed the most powerful petty kingdom in Lower Egypt, and arose to its Pharoahs after their numbers were swelled by their cousins bringing the chariot and the compound bow (then advanced military tech).  While the Pharaohs of the Canaanite Hyksos dynasty ruled from the city of Avaris from about 1650 BCE, native rulers continued in Upper Egypt at Thebes.

When their time was up, the Hyksos did not “escape” from Egypt; rather they were attacked and driven out by the forces of Thebes about 1530 BCE.  Their capital of Avaris was reduced to rubble.  After they fled across the Sinai, they took shelter in the fortified city of Sharuhen in the Negev, which fell after a three year siege.  Jericho was also destroyed about the same time.  Pharoah  Ahmose I already controlled the line of forts from the Delta up the seacoast to Gaza known as the Way of Horus; its terminus at Gaza became the administration center for Egypt’s Levantine territories.

In 1457 BCE, Pharoah Thutmose III conquered Djahy, roughly the same territory as Galilee, whose main city was the metropolis of Hazor.  To have a more central location from which to administer the new territories, he built a city at the junction of the Jezreel and Jordan Valleys later the site of Scythopolis and Beth Shean.

Egyptian territory eventually extended to the Orontes River, then to Anatolia and the Euphrates River and northwest Mesopotamia.  Under Pharoah Amenhotep IV/Akenaten (1351-1334 BCE), who was more preoccupied with the domestic affairs of Egypt (such as promoting worship of his monotheistic god Aten), Egypt lost their northern territories of Amurru and Kadesh to the growing Hittite Empire out of Anatolia.

After much back-and-forth conquest over the next several decades, the border between Egypt and Hatti (the land which the Hittites had taken over as their base) was set at Qatna. 

Between 1206 and 1130 BCE, the entire network of civilizations around the Aegean Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, and Southwest Asia collapsed.  The sites of most city-states from the period show wholesale destruction, burning, and looting.  Mycenaean Greece, the Hittite Empire, the New Kingdom of Egypt, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Amurru, Alalakh, Ugarit, and the Assuwa confederation in western Anatolia (of which Wilusa/Ilion/Troy was the seat) disappeared.  The Late Bronze Age ended with a bang, or rather several bangs, not a whimper.

Surviving inscriptions and papyri mention the Sea Peoples, but they alone cannot account for the massive chaos and devastation.  Trade networks were disrupted, city-states vanished to be replaced by isolated villages, more hospitable places were abandoned for those more secure.

The New Kingdom of Egypt ruled the Levant (which it called Retenu) up to Qatna with no real opposition until the Battle of Djahy against the Sea Peoples in 1178 BCE.  Following the battle, Pharoah Ramesses III resettled his antagonists in the five towns later known as Philistia in the southwest of Palestine, their metropolis of Gath being the most inland.

The local population of Djahy took advantage of the situation in 1150 BCE to rise up and burn the Egyptian city at Beth Shean to the ground, immediately building a new, and Canaanite, city on top of it.  The Philistines rewarded their initiative by destroying it fifty years later.  In the meantime, in 1130 BCE, they destroyed the last major city still loyal to Egypt, Megiddo, at the time the leading city of Djahy, the previous center’s population (Hazor) having risen up and destroyed the upper city of its pro-Egyptian elite around the year 1230 BCE but leaving the lower city intact.

The dawn of the Early Iron Age saw the end of Egyptian power and influence in the Levant as well as the collapse of civilization, but it also allowed the rise of the Phoenician city-states of the Mediterranean Sea’s eastern coast.  The Phoenicians, and their Punic offspring based in the African city of Carthage, came to dominate the sea’s entire basin.  In the Levant, their cities ran from Arvad in the north to Joppa (Jaffa) in the south, not far from the Philistine city of Ekron, and included Byblos, Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Tripoli, Dor, and Haifa.

The destruction of the Egyptian-allied city at Megiddo marked the end of Egyptian power in the Levant for the next several centuries, except for the three years following its reconquest by the Pharoah Shehsonq I of the 22nd Dynasty, 925-922 BCE.  Palestina, as it was then known to the Greeks, didn’t come under the sway of Egypt again until its conquest by Ptolemy I in 301 BCE.

Egypt ruled southern and central Palestine from 1530 BCE when they chased the Hyksos back into Palestine and northern Palestine and Lebanon from 1457 when they conquered Djahy, eventually conquering the entire Levant and part of Anatolia.  The New Kingdom ruled all these areas, except for the territory the Hittites took from them down to Qatna with the defection of Amurru, until the Late Bronze Age Collapse, with the last bit of its hold there vanishing in 1130 BCE.  Clearly, there was no room for the Israelites to escape from Egypt into the Land of Canaan because they would have just been “escaping” into more of Egypt.

In the midst of the collapse, other semi-nomadic Canaanite peoples, some previously mentioned in Egyptian records such as Edom and Moab, began to settle down and found territorial kingdoms for themselves and their posterity.  Moab established its kingdom in 1250 BCE, Edom in 1180 BCE, Aram in 1115, and Ammon in 1000 BCE.  The first two were definitely mentioned in Egyptian records, the latter being identified with the Shasu mentioned elsewhere though the Shasu are also identified with Aram.

The “Isiriar” (probably Israel) mentioned as tribal allies of the southern Palestine city-states of Gezer, Yenoam, and Ashkelon in 1207 BCE do not reappear until their king, Omri, founds the kingdom known, to outsiders at least, as Samerina in the early 9th century BCE, taking in what was once Djahy as well as the central area known in the first century as Samaria.

I submit once again that the Exodus is a myth, because there is no room for it in the historical record.  It is at best a reimagining of actual historical events involving the Hyksos.

22 July 2013

Egypt's Foreshadow, Once and Again

I remember listening to Egypt’s then president Hosni Mubarak’s speech with Farzi (short for Farzaneh) on 10 February 2011 on Al Jazeera Live via internet.  She and I were together via Skype, she in Paris and I in Chattanooga, and, fortunately for both of us non-Arabic speakers, there was a near simultaneous translation. 

It was the 16th day of the occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo.  The speech was defiant and confident, and Mubarak sounded strong.  Although he was willing to negotiate his leaving, there was no way he was just going to walk away.

“He’ll be gone in a week,” I remarked after the speech was finished.

“No way!” Farzi exclaimed.  “Didn’t you hear him, how confident he sounded?”

“Yeah,” I answered, “but he’ll still be gone in a week, maybe two, a month at most.”  I felt pretty sure of myself due to the very recent example of Ben Ali’s resignation of his 23-year presidency of Tunisia on 14 January after 28 days of “people power” protests that began with the self-immolation of vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in the south of the country.

“Well, you may be right,” she conceded, “but I’m worried about what’s going to happen after he leaves.  I’m afraid the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) will take over the country and turn it into another Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Farzi, who is French Iranian, had been thirteen when Iran’s 1979 revolution overthrew the decrepit, corrupt government of the Shah, which initially had been spearheaded by secularists, liberal democrats, progressive students, and workers as well as bazaaris (owners of small businesses retailing in the country’s bazaars).  Precocious for her age, Farzi had warned her father, a secularist and anti-Shah business leader, not to trust Khomeini and stay away from his people and followers.  I had been fifteen at the time, a high school sophomore, on the long distance team at Ooltewah High, and an avid watcher of the evening news.

Back in the less distant past, Mubarak resigned the day after his defiant speech, 11 February, which was also the 32nd anniversary of the abdication of the Shah in 1979, celebrated as Revolution Day by the Islamic Republic. 

I was reminded of the time my fraternity brother and then best friend Chris Mahoney and I were watching ABC’s General Hospital one afternoon and there was this scene of Rick Webber and former paramour Ginny Blake arguing vehemently about the welfare of the offspring of their affair, Rick Jr.  This was during the early 1980’s when GH’s popularity was at its astronomical height and UTC student center’s TV lounge was standing room only at 3 pm.  I said they were going to get married, he said they hated each other too much, so we bet $5 on it.  I collected the very next day.

When Farzi and I connected on Skype the day after Mubarak’s speech, I was, of course, very gracious and mature about being proven right and being proven right so far ahead of schedule.  As soon as our video call connected, I stuck out my tongue and chanted, “Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!”.  I guess you could call it a Rick Castle moment.  Farzi laughed, but then got serious and said to me the same thing she said to her father about Iran in 1979, “Watch and see”.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest and most organized of the opposition groups, formed the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)  just ten days after Mubarak resigned.  A little later, it formed the Democratic Alliance for Egypt with fourteen other parties of various shades of the political spectrum of the country, including Salafists (Islamist hardliners), secular democrats, leftists, centrists, and Nasserite nationalists. 

Before the parliamentary elections, however, the Brotherhood drove most of the others away by insisting members of the other parties run under the FJP label.  By the time of the elections to the lower house, the People’s Assembly, which took place in stages from November 2011 to January 2012, the caolition was all but completely defunct.  Elections to the body’s upper house, the Shura Council, took place from the end of January through February.

At the end of the series of votes to the People’s Assembly, the FJP got 47.2% of the vote while the Salafist Al-Nour Party got 24.3%, leaving the new parliament overwhelmingly dominated by Islamists.  Elections to the Shura Council were similarly lopsided, 45.04% and 28.63% for the two afore-mentioned parties. 

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court later declared the elections invalid and parliament dissolved in June 2012, but the new president, Mohammed Morsi of the Brotherhood’s FJP (elected with 51.73% of the run-off vote; he got 24.78% in the first round), countermanded the court’s decree.  Ruling in September 2012, the Supreme Administrative Court reiterated the earlier court’s judgment, but Morsi refused to adhere to the legal ruling of either court.

In the meantime, the overwhelmingly Islamist legislature had elected an overwhelmingly Islamist constituent assembly to write a new constitution (which ultimately turned out to be overwhelmingly Islamist) in March 2012. 

Okay, maybe Farzi wasn’t so wrong after all.

The constituent assembly was ruled unconstitutional the next month by the Supreme Constitutional Court.  A more balanced and representative assembly was formed in June 2012, but Islamist elements in parliament once again elected some of their own MP’s to the assembly.  The liberal democrats, secular nationalists, leftists, Nasserites, and other non-Islamists declared a boycott even as legal challenges began.

In November 2012, Morsi assumed powers roughly equivalent to those enjoyed by Mubarak under the 30-year state of emergency.  He did so partly to avert any judiciary authority declaring the constituent assembly invalid. 

By this time the Islamists were virtually the only members left, and due to resignations and withdrawals, the assembly lacked a quorum of members necessary for a vote to send the constitution for a referendum.  Despite this, Morsi ordered the assembly to vote and send the draft of 234 articles for a referendum, which took place in December 2012.  The invalidly adopted draft constitution was approved by 64% of a voter turnout of 33%, meaning that just 21% of the electorate expressed its approval of the Islamist drafted and adopted document.

So what you had was a body of questionable validity elected by an invalid legislature mandating a new constitution for all Egyptians which just 21% of the citizens approved.

A series of large demonstrations against the virtually all-Islamist government and its invalid constitution broke out at the anniversary of Mubarak’s resignation, and, while these eventually died down, rose up again in June 2013 at Morsi’s first anniversary in office. 

In time, there were millions of people (17 million according to Radio Sawa) out in the streets demanding Morsi’s resignation, both for his and his party’s attempts to Islamicize the country and their incompetence at governing the country and managing its economy, brought about in large part by their refusal to compromise and cooperate.  When the military moved in and removed Morsi on 3 July, they did so with the backing of those millions in the streets. 

After Morsi’s removal, the top leaders of Egypt’s two major religions, Imam Ahmed al-Tayib, Grand Sheikh of Al Ahzar (both the Mosque and the University), and Pope Theodoros II, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, publicly gave their blessings to the army’s actions.

Many (including Wikipedia) have called the actions of the military in Egypt a coup d’etat, but if that’s what it was, then so too was what occurred in the Philippines in February 1986, when far fewer people in a country with a much larger population (even then) came out in support of a rebellion by a small group of military officers and their soldiers that eventually deposed the long-term dictator Ferdinand Marcos.  To Coryistas (supporters of Cory Aquino, wife of slain Marcos opponent Ninoy Aquino), it was the People Power Revolution; to Loyalistas (supporters of ousted president Marcos), it was an illegal coup d’etat.

Incidentally, the Al Ahzar Mosque in Cairo was founded in 972 under the Fatimid Caliphate that then ruled Egypt, North Africa, Sicily, Palestine, and Hejaz (western Arabia, where the cities of Mecca and Medina lie), and in 975 welcomed its first instructors to what became the Al Ahzar University, making it the oldest continuing university on the planet. 

The Fatimids were Shia Muslims (of the Ismaili branch of Shia, as opposed to the Alawi Shia in Syria or the Jafari Shia in Iran and Iraq) originally based in Tunisia.  They were conquered in 1171 by the Kurdish leader Salah al-Din Yusuf  ibn Ayyub, or Saladin, on behalf of the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, who ruled it in their name.  From there Saladin, one of the greatest generals in history, conquered the Crusader States of the Levant in 1187.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, on the other hand, dates back to the first century and has been a separate entity since the Melkites (those wishing to remain in communion with Constantinople) left in 536.  The Patriarchate had been out of communion with Rome and Constantinople since the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451.

One of the major backers of the Muslim Brotherhood and its FJP in Egypt, and of Brotherhood affiliates in other countries around North Africa (the Maghreb) and Southwest Asia (the Mashriq), has been the crypto-Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) of the Republic of Turkey, whose most prominent figure is the country’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In fact, the AKP has supported the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates throughout the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria, which is a key part of the rebel opposition; the Ennahda (Renaissance) Movement of Tunisia, currently the leading party in parliament (41% of seats); the Justice and Construction Party of Libya; the Movement of Society for Peace in Algeria (formerly known as Hamas), part of the current ruling coalition in parliament; the Coalition for Reform (aka Al-Islah) in Yemen, the leading opposition party; and the Justice and Development Party (PJD) of Morocco, the country’s explicitly Islamist ruling party that models itself on the supposedly secular but socially conservative AKP.

The AKP also advocates for Hamas in Palestine, which began as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt.  The Turkish party has been a strong influence among the faction in Hamas which desires to move it away from armed conflict and enter elections, which it did in 2006, winning a majority of the seats in the Legislative Council (resulting in punitive sanctions against Palestine by the U.N., U.S., U.K., and Russia as well as the State of Israel).

When I visited Paris in spring 2011 (I left the day after the April 27 tornadoes), Farzi and I watched a video on Youtube of a man in New Jersey whose family had lost their boat, both cars, basement, and part of the first floor of their two-story home to heavy flooding.  Smiling broadly, he proclaimed, “At least none of us are hurt and the second floor is all okay”.  Farzi shook her head in wonder, saying, “You Americans, no matter how bad things are you always find something good about the situation.”

Most of those groups mentioned above reached the position they are now in during and in the aftermath of the Arab Spring risings, the very outcome which Farzi greatly feared and about which I was concerned.  Being an Iranian and having lived since adolescence under the Islamic Republic before emigrating to Paris, Farzi was naturally inclined toward pessimism, though objective enough to at least hope she was wrong.  In the short run, at least, it has appeared her fears were well founded.  Recent events in Egypt, however, may signal a change of direction.

I remember when Morsi and his FJP fellows first flew to the fore with politicians and pundits pompously positing perhaps the style of Islamism practiced but not espoused by the AKP was what the peoples in the region newly freed from autocracies really needed…as opposed to the actual freedom that they marched, demonstrated, were abused, and died for.  Having seen them pursuing invariably the same object, Egyptians rose up to throw off their government in order to provide new guards for their future security.  They were not the only ones paying attention; those living under the authoritarian rule in democratic garb of Prime Minister Erdogan fear that the direction in which the Freedom and Justice Party was taking Egypt is the same in which the Justice and Development Party wishes to take Turkey.

Mubarak, Ben Ali, Nobateh Seyyed Ali!

15 July 2013

Martin v. Zimmerman

aka The State of Florida v. Trayvon Martin

In U.S. common law in most jurisdictions, a citizen may make an arrest provided he or she sees the crime committed, and to use force to hold the suspect until police arrive.  If the citizen making the arrest is mistaken, there are no protections for that citizen and he or she can even be prosecuted for false imprisonment or even kidnapping, both felonies.

Trayvon Martin was not committing a felony nor had any felony been committed in that area that evening at the time of his murder.  George Zimmerman, already in violation of Neighborhood Watch procedure by being armed, was explicitly instructed by the police not to engage Martin and did anyway.  Since no felony had been committed, Zimmerman had no authority under citizen’s arrest to stop, much less detain, Martin and was therefore committing felony unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping in this case since he was armed.  

Trayvon Martin's death occurred not only during but as a direct result of said felony.  George Zimmerman is therefore guilty of felony murder.  At least in the realm of objective reality.

Under U.S. law, no one can be tried twice for the same crime, and a verdict of innocence, unlike a verdict of guilty, cannot be appealed.  Zimmerman could still be tried for civil rights violations, however, like the officers in the Rodney King case.  One thing that really bothers me about this trial is the fact that it had only six jurors as opposed to the usual twelve, and the fact that they were all middle-class white women (it would bother me if they were all men or all black or or all working class or all wealthy Perelandran hermaphrodite atheists).

By the way it handled the case, it seems upholding Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law is much more important to that state than providing justice for one of its murdered citizens and his family, unless the defendant happens to be black and female (Marissa Alexander) firing a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband (she is sentenced to 20 years).

08 July 2013

A Poem by Tecumseh

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. 

Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. 

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. 

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. 

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. 
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.
When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. 
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. 
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.
When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. 
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.