left biblioblography: TIGERS OF TAMIL - YES VIRGINIA, THERE ARE ATHEISTS IN FOXHOLES

Thursday, March 08, 2007

TIGERS OF TAMIL - YES VIRGINIA, THERE ARE ATHEISTS IN FOXHOLES

There's been quite a bit of talk lately, in the Blame That Never Ends (who's at fault? Religion? Non-religion?) - and most of the religious are bringing up the Tigers of Tamil as a strawman argument that atheism is just as culpable (if not more: and, yes you guessed it, it's MORE) for atrocities committed by Man against his fellowman.

Yes, no doubt you've heard the acrimony flying - 'atheism' caused all those atrocities in Asia (Russia, China, Cambodia - you know the drill), even though the last of these was nearly thirty years ago, and all of them happened half a world away. Meanwhile, religion is still building body counts to this day.

No one's approached this yet (that I know of), so it's time to air the laundry, so to speak.

And yes, the Tigers of Tamil are somewhere in the vicinity of agnostic to atheist, and so we do count them. Even if they're far across the ocean.

From here:

"They are led by the reclusive Velupillai Prabhakaran, accused of building an organisation around a personality cult.

"All Tigers carry cyanide capsules to be used if they are captured

"He is called the great leader and his picture is everywhere in rebel held areas.

"Anyone who wants to join the suicide Black Tiger squad has to write him a letter of application. Before they carry out their suicide missions they are granted a meal with him. Religion is banned, as is alcohol and smoking.

"By claiming to be the sole representatives of the Tamil people, he has steeped the entire culture into one of self-sacrifice and martyrdom."

About Prabhakaran:

"Religion

Prabhakaran is a born Hindu, but as a person heading an organization with people from many backgrounds he has never explicitly used or stated religion, or adherence to any form of worship, in any of his doctrines or speeches. However, religion is not a factor in his philosophy or ideology. The LTTE is also an organization that does not cite any material from religion or religious texts in any of its ideological documents and propaganda but are driven only by the idea of Tamil nationalism and considers it as the only single-minded approach and inspiration towards the attainment of an independent Tamil Eelam. All LTTE ceremonies are secular, rooted in ancient Tamil customs, or seek to incorporate multi-religious elements. For instance, Hindus traditionally cremate their dead, but LTTE fighters are buried, according to the old Tamil custom of burying the warriors. Also, LTTE has an overwhelming support of the minority Sri Lankan Tamil Christians and the Church, and a number of leading LTTE officers are Christians. Prabhakaran named his son Charles Anthony, a Christian name, after one of his most trusted associates, Charles Lucas Anthony, alias Seelan, who was killed in 1983."

The EU has added the Tamil Tigers to their list of terrorist organizations.

Apparently, the Tamils have a reason to have a huge chip on their shoulders: the Sinhalese, once the political power shifted, consolidated and proceeded to impose restrictions on all things Tamil. From language (they voted in Sinahalese in as the national language) to banning the importation of cultural literature, to the denial of citizenship to estate Tamils. Lest we forget, there was also Black July (it was a response to the killing of thirteen Sinhalese government soldiers), where between 1,000 to 3,000 Tamils were killed.

They pack cyanide powder, ready to sacrifice themselves rather than be captured, and the women fight alongside the men.

And, from a commentary from the first link provided:
"Many Tamils see the Tigers as a necessary evil. Time and again I have heard this view expressed: "I don't agree with them totally, but as a Tamil we would have been wiped out without them putting our cause on the map."

Whether or not I agree with their methodology, they're laying their lives down for an essential abstract, a thing we give lip service to here in the West - Freedom.

And the question stands for all of us - religious or atheist - what would you do, if the position were reversed? Denied your culture, legislated out of citizenship, told your language is as second-class as your status in society, in short, a process of marginalization that would lead to extinction? Would you sit quietly, hands folded, softly asking for some rights that were yours to begin with?

"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?" - Hamlet, 3/1.

That, dear readers, is my nickel's worth: spend it wisely, and well.

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32 comments:

beepbeepitsme said...

I never understood the "there are no atheists in foxholes line."

People who use this line seem to want to have it both ways. They want to suggest that all russians, chinese, japanese, germans etc were low down horrible atheists. Yet, if that is the case, I seem to remember that we fought quite a few bloody wars with these groups. And I seem to remember that THEY were in foxholes as well.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Beep - yes, it's a bad case of tunnel vision all right. Of course it's the old dichotomy: the enemy is pure evil, we are the shining light of the world, etc.
The foxhole line is an implication of cowardice (obviously). 'Godless libruls' are soft spineless creatures all of us the equivalent of Wormtongue.

Sadie Lou said...

I don't think you understand the phrase "there are no atheists in foxholes"

I always meant it to believe that when people are facing overwhelming fear or looking death in the face (like in a foxhole) people will generally turn their eyes to God for strength and courage.
At least that's what I always thought about the meaning of that phrase.

Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie - Ummm...yes I do understand what it means. & I've met American 'foxhole atheists' (online).
The flip side of the meaning is that atheists don't have the courage of their conviction(s). Or any real courage at all.

Sadie Lou said...

I apologize. I didn't know it was such an offensive phrase. I see now that it is pretty rude to assume that atheists would knuckle under given the right amount of distress.
On the other hand, why do so many people wait until they are on their death bed before they open conversation about God? It does seem that there is something about facing death that gets people thinking about God, yes?

Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie - you are forgiven. ;)
Well, I'm nowhere near being on my deathbed, & I converse about it freely.
It does seem that there is something about facing death that gets people thinking about God, yes?
Yes. That's exactly why religion was invented. A way of saying no to death.

Chris Bradley said...

A fair number of people have also become atheists because of war, I should point out. Indeed, if I recall correctly, one of the key reasons why religion is a dying breed in Europe is because of the World Wars - it became very hard for people to believe in a benevolent god after trench warfare and the Nazis. A lot of folks said, "Yeah, I guess god is dead if he can let this happen."

A lot of religious folks promote the idea that religion is something to succor people in times of distress -- but truly distressing times often sees people turning away from religion.

(As also happened during the Black Death. Humanism arose, in part, as a response to the vast and incomprehensible suffering of the plague, come to think about it.)

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey Chris, thx for stopping in.
Yeah, it's that old dratted 'problem of evil', isn't it? It's why I practice a lot of dystheism.
The gnostics had an interesting idea in re: the demiurge.
If there is an architect, he is mad beyond telling.

Chris Bradley said...

No prob for stopping in. I like talking with clever folks about things I'm interested in. ;)

LOL. I had never heard the word dystheism. It's a great word. But, yes, I agree that if the gods exist, they are crazy. Or evil. Or both.

I just get sick of hearing that "there are no atheists in foxholes". It seems to me that foxholes are atheist factories.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "foxholes are atheist factories"

RAmen to that.

Krystalline Apostate said...

chris - flattery'll getcha everywhere around here. ;)

Sadie Lou said...

A lot of religious folks promote the idea that religion is something to succor people in times of distress -- but truly distressing times often sees people turning away from religion.

Good point. It happened to C. S. Lewis who went into war a Christian and came out an atheist. He became a Christian again, though.

RAmen to that.

Oh my. That is really lame.
*laughing*
Seriously. It's not offensive, just really childish. Kinda the same thing as writing "the holy babble" and not putting a big "J" in the name of Jesus.
Writing "Jesus" doesn't mean you're giving him extra emphasis or holiness, it's a name and it's supposed to have a capital letter.
It's so typical of our postmodern culture for people to abandon structure and standard and context in the name of apathy.
My name is Sadie, Beep, Beep.
Perhaps I should be called "sadie".
or maybe,
"Sadie, Sadie the naked lady"
Or maybe,
"Scadie" or "Scabie"?
You have my permission to call me those names in your quest to be "different".
:)
I'm not saying this in offense, so please don't misunderstand my tone of voice--it's seriously funny to me--I like it.

Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
Oh my. That is really lame.
That's actually the atheist's version of 'amen'. We all use it.
A short explanatory note:
The Flying Spaghetti Monster is our little satire on gawd. So 'Ramen' - get it?;)
Most of the non-capitalization actually stems from many, many debates w/xtians. We get accused of acknowledging 'gawd' or 'JC' if we capitalize it, or the bible.
It actually helps keep arguments on track, because a lot of religious people actually DO say crap like "See, you believe! You capitalized such-'n-such'. No joke.

Stardust said...

Seriously. It's not offensive, just really childish.

That was quite a long defensive rant for not finding it offensive! LOL! ;D

Sadie Lou said...

A short explanatory note:
The Flying Spaghetti Monster is our little satire on gawd. So 'Ramen' - get it?;)


I get it. *rolling my eyes*. I've heard of the flying spaghetti monster before. I just haven't read it.

Most of the non-capitalization actually stems from many, many debates w/xtians. We get accused of acknowledging 'gawd' or 'JC' if we capitalize it, or the bible.
It actually helps keep arguments on track, because a lot of religious people actually DO say crap like "See, you believe! You capitalized such-'n-such'. No joke.


That's discouraging.
There's no way for me to combat something like that. Just promise me you won't stereotype all Christians to fit in that box or that brand of Christianity.
Just because I'm curious,
are there any popular atheists out there that make your skin crawl? Are there atheists out there that make false claims about atheism?

Stardust said...

A good article I found on deathbed conversions:

excerpt:

Many religious leaders disapprove of deathbed conversion, considering it hypocrisy based on fear rather than true belief. Many deathbed converts lived in violation of the tenets of the religion to which they wish to convert. Many consider this a form of "hedging one's bets," similar to Pascal's Wager.

Religious believers throughout history have often claimed famous or respected non-believers (or believers in other religions) have undergone deathbed conversions to their own religion. One famous example is Charles Darwin in the Lady Hope story. For example, some well-known and -respected Jews would be said to have converted to Christianity, partly to improve their standing and to suggest that all decent people were, at heart, Christians. Unless supported by evidence, these stories are almost invariably false and created to lend credence to one's own religious beliefs.

A related phenomenon is a misinterpretation of a quote to suggest a nonexistent religious belief. Albert Einstein, for example, was frequently cast as a theist because of his quote "God does not play dice with the universe." Although he made it clear many times that he did not believe in a personal god, and was using the term only rhetorically, theists have continued to make claims about Einstein's "conversion".

Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie - I'm sure you'll do fine, as long as you veer away from any finger-pointing.
I realize that not ALL xtians behave in the same manner, but there's just so many of them that do, it's tough avoiding the pigeon-holing thing. As for your promise, well, I'm already like that. I have a good friend I made at the Nogodblog named spanders, who's a liberal xtian: he throws me some webwork occasionally.
Just because I'm curious, are there any popular atheists out there that make your skin crawl?
Well, Larry Darby, but he's not an atheist anymore. A holocaust denier (who became 'born-again' recently). There's a Chad Hetman from the NJ atheists, he's a raving anti-Semite (much like LD). There aren't many (there aren't that many of us to begin w/), but every group has its fringe freak show.

Stardust: Thanks for the article.
You wouldn't be dropping me a hint, now wouldja? ;)

Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie - as to this:
Are there atheists out there that make false claims about atheism?
That's a salient query, 1 I'll have to give some thought to.
Most atheists I know are blaringly honest.
That's not to say 'my people' are incapable of dishonesty. I just don't know of any.

Sadie Lou said...

KA--
hmmm...
interesting.
Does this friend of yours, 'spanders' have a blog?
Stardust--
as to your comment to me, it's really difficult to get your tone of voice and current mood or feeling across over the internet.
Don't you agree?
I wasn't offended or angry, I was merely speculating on the possible reasons for it and then going off on a tangent about name calling--nothing too fancy.
I'm a pretty goofy girl but it doesn't always come across; niether does sarcasim; which is a shame because I enjoy being a smart ass sometimes.

Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
No, spanders doesn't have a blog. He's a regular at the NGB - but I'm fairly sure you 2 would get on famously.
As to conveying tone of voice on blogs - it's hard to do. I use emoticons, like I always wink, thusly - ;). Smiley faces, eye rolls - like this 8| (the 2nd line is drawn lips), etc.

Stardust said...

as to your comment to me, it's really difficult to get your tone of voice and current mood or feeling across over the internet.
Don't you agree?


Yes, I do admit that, Sadie. It is indeed difficult to "read" moods and feelings and oftentimes misunderstand that one is just joking around. But in your comment you seemed to be mocking. I apologize if I misunderstood your intentions.

Talking about words we use, why do xians so often use phrases like "I wasn't offended or angry"? I have heard my sister, who has been a Baptist for a couple of years now use these terms in sentences like "I'm not angry or anything" every time she expresses her opinions or disagrees with me (which she often does and feels she always has the truth and is superior since finding Jeebus)...it's as if she has to clarify that she isn't "angry"...but she seems angry that I don't share her beliefs. :-S (My sister and I are VERY close, despite the differences about religion.)

Chris Bradley said...

My feeling it's pretty hard to give a false claim about atheism because atheism is the rejection of a claim rather than being the proponent of another claim. Being defined by negation, it's hard to make false claims (unless they're utterly absurd, such as, "atheists do believe in god"). Being an atheist merely says what you don't believe, not what a person does believe.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Chris - true enough, but I've actually read some xtian posters claim that to not believe is a positive claim.
Forthwith, they then demand that we prove something doesn't exist that they can't prove does.
Wish I were jokin'.

Sadie Lou said...

stardust--
No need to apologize. I might not have translated myself very well.

As to the question about some Christians saying "I'm not offended or I'm not angry" I don't know what confuses you?
Are you saying that Christians have no right to be offended during a debate? Or are you saying that it would be ridiculous for a Christian to assume that they have the potential to be offended or angry?

I only said it because I meant it. I wasn't angry or offended even though it might have appeared that way, Sometimes, atheists say things to get a rise out of a Christian--they are baiting them. So sometimes, Christians will preface a situation with "I'm not angry or offended" just to save a little face.

KA-- you're quite good at translating your mood and meaning with your words and phrases. It's why I keep returning to your blog. Often times, I feel my comments are merely humored or something to be ridiculed. I don't feel that some atheists take me seriously.
I don't feel that way here.





yet.





:)

Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie - I tend to return tit for tat as a rule. If I'm approached w/some courtesy & respect, I tend to return it in kind. I only get testy if I have re-explain something too often, or someone says something that's rather...foolish.
I tend to respect people.
Opinions are a different critter.

karen said...

I was thinking that sadie was quite similar to spanders. I agree that they would get along.

I also can't think of anything one might say -as an atheist- that would be a false claim about atheism. There are false ideas about atheism, but to my knowledge, they are not generated by atheists.

"foxholes are atheist factories"
Ramen with marinara!

Stardust said...

As to the question about some Christians saying "I'm not offended or I'm not angry" I don't know what confuses you?

Sadie, I'm not confused, or even being confrontational here, it's just something that I have heard via conversations with xians that they often preface their responses with "I'm not angry or offended . . . " It's like they have to say that all the time and it's ok to be angry sometimes, we are all human and no need to apologize for a normal human emotion.

The reason I asked is because my sister never used that word "anger, angry" much before she became "saved" and now uses it all the time (so does her Baptist daughter) even when I haven't accused them of being angry and when there is obviously no reason for anyone to be angry.

Again, I was making an observation, is all. :)

Stardust said...

are there any popular atheists out there that make your skin crawl?

If I can jump in here on this one, even though I admire Dan Barker and his work with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, he can be pretty irritating. He doesn't make my skin crawl, but I don't like how he has taken characteristics of his ex- xian fundamentalism and uses them to convey his atheism (like changing the words of xian songs and hymns to atheist lyrics...CORNY!)

Krystalline Apostate said...

Stardust - I've actually seen the occasional poster claiming to be an atheist, who'd suggest the ME be reduced to a glass ashtray.
Were they actual atheists, or just youngsters stirring the pot, is anyone's guess.
I'm fairly thick-skinned - so it would have to be an atheist who was the mental equal of Manson before I get the 'skin crawlies'.

Sadie Lou said...

but I don't like how he has taken characteristics of his ex- xian fundamentalism and uses them to convey his atheism (like changing the words of xian songs and hymns to atheist lyrics...CORNY!)


I feel like that when Christians take mainstream, pop music and change the lyrics to form some kind of spiritual message. Like U2's One Love...

Yikes. *skin crawlies*

ramjee said...

Excellent Post. Are you Twitter?

Luke "Thrythlind" Green said...

The root cause is human. It is a malfunction of the way culture develops. Nationalism, religion, politics, sports, money...these are all things that have produced violent fanatics. In the last couple of hundred years atheism has become a more common aspect of identity than it used to be. People are now affirming that they are atheist rather than dismissing religion. There are groups identifying as atheists as a core part of their nature.

If atheism doesn't develop the same sort of rabid terrorist types then it will be because we have begun to change human nature before it got enough numbers and tradition to develop such sub-groups.

It is an idea just the same as any other.