Religion

The Spread of Chavezism

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Hugo Chavez on George W. Bush, September 2006:

"Yesterday, the Devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today," Chavez said, blessing himself with the sign of the cross, and folding his hands as if in prayer and glancing heavenward.

Six months later, as Bush prepares a trip to Guatemala:

"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday….

Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace.

A serious ceremony or a media-savvy put-on? Either way, it'll probably get more press up north than the more conventional protests greeting the president in Brazil and Colombia. (For example: You'll note that I didn't bother to blog the more conventional protests greeting the president in Brazil and Colombia.)

In other religious news, Malaysian monks are facing a crisis of conscience:

Buddhist monks, who are bound by faith to nonviolence, are grappling with how to rid a temple of a severe ant infestation without killing the insects.

Stinging red ants have plagued the Hong Hock See Temple in northern Penang state for a year, causing one worshipper to be bitten so badly last month that he had to receive hospital treatment, said Elma Lin, a temple volunteer worker.

A temple disciple tried using a vacuum cleaner to gather up the ants before freeing them in a nearby forest, but the method failed to purge the insects, Lin said.

Question: I'm no theologian, but isn't that kind of violent too?

The temple's chief monk, Boon Keng, was quoted by The Star newspaper as saying that the monks had to "respect other living things" in the temple.

"When an ant drops on you, you must not flick it away or blow on it," he told the newspaper. "If you do, it will bite to hold on. You just have to shake it off."

So maybe it's only one-on-one anti-ant violence that's prohibited, and you're allowed to use a weapon of mass destruction like a vacuum cleaner? And suppose President Bush visits: Do you have to shake off the evil spirits individually, or can you do a general cleansing? Can you at least spray some Lysol to get rid of that sulfuric smell? Someone help me out here.

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  1. Funny. Mean, but funny.

    As a follow-up blog you could tease some Jains.

  2. You want to know why we are unpopular in South America? The drug war has no small part in it. Countries like Bolivia and Columbia are run by collections of awful elites. The poor in those countries are lucky to have ever seen a doctor once in their lives. Here comes some shitbag like Chavez offering them doctors and and paying attention to them. Here comes the United States burning the one crop they can make any money at, lest said crop end up some American reprobate’s nose. And we are surprised they take up with dirtbags like Chavez and dumb ass leftist aid organizations?

  3. I think Buddhism has a lot of good points, but I could never go whole hog because I was afraid of this exact scenario. I never thought I would hear about it.

    Also, I know from first hand experience that the Mayan spirit guides think Bush/Cheney is the antichrist.

  4. The death of one ant is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic .

  5. Let’s not forget the century we spent using our military to enforce the plantation system on behalf of those awful elites, echoes of which can be seen in our support of the anti-Chavez coup plotters.

  6. But still, history can’t explain why there was such a dramatic uptick in anti-American sentiment coinciding with Bush’s presidency.

  7. Chavez may be a megalomaniac and a scary dictator, but at least he’s funny.

    Tros-“Don’t kill ants” Buddhism is just one of many, many forms of that religion/philosophy.

  8. In other religious news, Malaysian monks are facing a crisis of conscience:

    Buddhist monks, who are bound by faith to nonviolence, are grappling with how to rid a temple of a severe ant infestation without killing the insects.

    Stinging red ants have plagued the Hong Hock See Temple in northern Penang state for a year, causing one worshipper to be bitten so badly last month that he had to receive hospital treatment, said Elma Lin, a temple volunteer worker.

    A temple disciple tried using a vacuum cleaner to gather up the ants before freeing them in a nearby forest, but the method failed to purge the insects, Lin said.

    ROTFL!

    Have they tried talking to them?

  9. “Chavez may be a megalomaniac and a scary dictator, but at least he’s funny.”

    Yeah funny just Mugabe and Castro.

  10. Hell, John, you’ve got to learn to find some cynical humor in all of this. Chavez’s original quip about the smell of sulfur was probably the funniest thing said by a national head in the last decade. (Granted, that’s a low bar).
    Also, nothing I’ve seen indicates that Chavez is anywhere near the level of evil that Mugabe and Castro have reached.

  11. Tiney said the “spirit guides of the Mayan community” decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of “bad spirits” after Bush’s visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace.

    A little capacocha will put everything to rights. Never fails.

    Here comes the United States burning the one crop they can make any money at,…

    Actually their home countries are responsible, since it’s all part of various treaties; they even get paid for it.

    And we are surprised they take up with dirtbags like Chavez and dumb ass leftist aid organizations?

    The real reason is that they’re ignorant peasants – even more ignorant than American liberals.

  12. If you are looking for a good weapon, how about a protractor and ruler?

    Oh, you said MASS destruction. Sorry.

  13. The ant problem should be simple, just bait them to another location.

    The evil Bush problems, not so simple…

  14. Man, this place is going downhill. John & joe arguing about Bush. Yawn.
    Buddhists battling ants and flemur can’t even put a racist spin on it?
    Try harder, people!

    In other news, Guy Montag was quoted in today’s Sun Times. (Good lord!)
    Isaac Bartram, too.

  15. And it smells of sulfur still today,

    Uh, Hugo, that’s not really Bush’s fault. Any time you drink a Latin American beer, you’re gonna get some nasty gas.

  16. Mayans? Mayans!?!

    You mean, the degenerate bastards who enslaved and slaughtered their neighbours? The ones who destroyed their own environment through slash-and-burn (where are you, Greens?)?

    Some people are ashamed of their evil pasts. Apparently, these descendants of mass murderers are proud of their holocaustic, cannibalistic, murderous forebears. Fuck them!

    What you never hear in politically correct history is that the conquistadores were morally superior to the murderers they conquered. Central America–pre-Columbian–was a collection of evil societies which deserved extinction.

  17. Someone saw Apocalypto

  18. highnumber,

    WTF? OMG! LOL!

    Their version loses something without the emphasis I added:
    These folks made money in everything from media and real estate to coffee, dumplings and ethanol. Talk about corporate welfare!

  19. highnumber

    Yeah, Guy and Isaac were quoted, but the quotes were out of context.

    Kind of a hard-drive-by blogging.

  20. Put that in your /. journal, Guy!

  21. Mayan Hater:

    Hmmm. Perhaps.

    But Cortez, Pizzaro, et al were a minimal upgrade. Evil 1.12 vs. Evil 1.11.

  22. I have to admit, the distinction between genocidal cannibalism and plain old genocide doesn’t do much for me.

  23. “What you never hear in politically correct history is that the conquistadores were morally superior to the murderers they conquered.”

    generally speaking, replacing slavery with slavery is considered a lateral step.

    it probably doesn’t need to be restated that none of the ruling classes involved made for good neighbors.

  24. Highnumber,

    I am not argueing with Joe. I am not really sure what his point was to be honest with you. If it was an agrument it was one way.

    Number 6,

    Give Chavez time. Mugabe has had a couple of decades to turn an otherwise decent country into a socialist hell hole. Chavez hasn’t even had 10 years yet. Just because Chavez is so stupid and incompetant he needs some practice to become an evil tyrant, doesn’t mean he won’t eventually get it right.

  25. though i’ll be fucked if i can understand the fascination in america with high mayan culture, particularly their astrological musings; it might be one of those “funny brown people have all the magical answers” type things [insert tasteless “bring me the head of terrence mckenna” joke here] that explain the love so many people have for pre-invasion tibet, which was basically a theocratic slave state. again, the chinese invasion didn’t do anyone any real good…

    kind of like iraq, i guess.

  26. It wasn’t the Spanard’s fault that the natives had no resistance to European diseases. I guess if you have to break the tie between the evil exploiting Spanish and the evil enslaving Aztecs and Incas, the tie goes to the Spanish. If you are going to be an evil conquiering empire, you better make damn sure that the outside world doesn’t pass you buy and someone doesn’t show up on your shores one day with guns and horses. Live by the sword die by sword.

  27. “that explain the love so many people have for pre-invasion tibet, which was basically a theocratic slave state.”

    Yeah, but the Dali Lama is such a cool guy. And hear he grants enlightenment as a tip to his golf caddies.

  28. Easy, John. I was just funnin’ on ya.

  29. Oh, great, another thread on which type of tyrant is preferable. Although at least this one considers some scenarios that don’t normally come up on this forum: Aztecs vs. Spaniards, theocrats vs. communists, etc. Usually it’s just “dictator who calls himself nationalist vs. dictator who calls himelf communist.”

    Me, I’m gonna do what Captain Kirk did in that non-win simulation and reject the terms. I’d choose “none of the above” and immigrate to America.

  30. I think there is some moral value in eating what you kill. That puts the Mesoamericans over the top.

  31. John,
    So when the colonizing aliens arrive and conquer us next year, you’ll be similarly relaxed about it? After all, live by the sword, die by the sword, right?

  32. highnumber,

    Put that in your /. journal, Guy!

    You are so 15 min. ago . . .*

    Thanks man! You made my /. journal 🙂

    *I was editing and reloading when you were typing.

  33. The worst part of those Mayans was that they believed in crazy-sounding deities who they think created man. Talk about backwards people….

  34. As to fascination with Mayan culture, I don’t know about them, but the ruins at Teotihuacan outside of Mexico (biggest pyramid in Latin America), are awesome.

  35. So when the colonizing aliens arrive and conquer us next year, you’ll be similarly relaxed about it?

    Next year? I thought the global warming stuff was decades away?

    Oh, sorry, wrong hysteria.

  36. If you are going to be an evil conquiering empire, you better make damn sure that the outside world doesn’t pass you buy and someone doesn’t show up on your shores one day with guns and horses. Live by the sword die by sword.

    On the other hand, if mesoAmerica were a beautiful agrarian paradise of peace, trade, and high culture, it would have been: Live by peace, trade, and high culture… die by the sword.

  37. Wait a minute, opposition to genocidal imperialism and religious murder is supposed to make me side with Spain circa 1500?

    Man, tell it to the Jews, Muslims, and heretics.

  38. I don’t think Chavez will last too long. He’s really screwing up the country pretty fast, and soon the national oil company will be breaking down. Venezuela’s already below its production quota for OPEC. He’ll go either when his NOC can’t produce enough or sooner if there is a world financial shock and the price of oil drops drastically. Anybody remember in 1998 when you could get a gallon of gas for less than 90 cents?

  39. “John,
    So when the colonizing aliens arrive and conquer us next year, you’ll be similarly relaxed about it? After all, live by the sword, die by the sword, right?”

    Too bad for us I guess. I guess we should have spent more money continueing the Apolo project. Then again, if things turn out for us like it did for the Incas and Aztecs, we will intermarry with the Aliens and our technology and lifespans will greatly improve and those of us who adapt to the new culture and change in circumstances will end up better off than even the richest person alive today. Being the average Salvadorian today would suck, but I bet it doesn’t suck as bad as being the average Aztec in the 15th Century.

  40. So what, Mexico’s going to invade next year? Hunh? Where’s lonewacko?

  41. Then again, if things turn out for us like it did for the Incas and Aztecs, we will intermarry with the Aliens and our technology and lifespans will greatly improve and those of us who adapt to the new culture and change in circumstances will end up better off than even the richest person alive today.

    I don’t want kids with big beady eyes and triangular heads. No thanks.

    Then again, I guess as a libertarian I should embrace that as the ultimate in transhumanism. Yeah, man, those alien scientists can do anything! But if they suggest that dilithium might be a toxin? Then clearly they’re just engaging in groupthink, and showing how unreliable and myopic they really are!

    🙂

  42. FinFangFoom: Is he below his production quota, or is that just something OPEC countries say to keep the price up? I was under the impression that these countries always overshoot their quota, and then lie about it. Am I totally wrong here? I agree that a dictator (ooops, democratically elected populist) whose power is based solely on a commodity, even oil, can’t last very long.

  43. So what, Mexico’s going to invade next year?

    This new threat appears to be that Guatemala is going to invade, perhaps to set up Mayalan within the lands ceded in the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.

    I hope Condoleezza can play the spirit guides of the Aztec community against the spirit guides of the Mayan community to keep them too preoccupied to invade…

  44. Thoreau,

    If nothing else your half alien children ought to be able to get preferential admitance into the elite alien universities as “oppressed indiginous people”.

  45. Chavez’s original quip about the smell of sulfur was probably the funniest thing said by a national head in the last decade.

    It’s humorous, but not that funny. Not even close to that Japanese guy doing his Elvis impersonation. I bet there’s even better if you think about it.

    Oh and there will never be a stable government in South America as long as the US continues the War On Some Drugs

  46. Perhaps dropping the high ethanol tarriffs would motivate some South American coca farmers to switch to sugar cane.

  47. I don’t think Chavez will last too long. He’s really screwing up the country pretty fast,

    Oddly, lack of popularity and policy smarts rarely seems to limit the tenure of caudillos (see, e.g., Castro, Fidel).

  48. But Castro had aid from the Soviet Union, so he could kill his country over a much longer time. Plus, Cuba was and is an agrarian state. In some senses it has a more normal economy. Venezuela is just oil.

    Also, the spread of Chavezism is Bovril!

  49. Someone saw Apocalypto

    Finally!

  50. Unlike Venezuela, there were no elections in Cuba under Castro, which would seem to be a relevant point when discussing Castro’s political staying power, and speculating on Chavez’s.

  51. Chavez reminds me of one of those Chia Pet pigs without the greenery.

    BTW the sulphur smell probably comes from the wonderful sanitation facilities to be found in that country.

  52. Somehow, I have a clearer picture of fellows like Chavez after seeing “The Last King of Scotland” this weekend. Things are going to end badly in Venezuela, I’m pretty sure.

  53. coffee, dumplings and ethanol

    Ah, a lazy Saturday afternoon…

  54. “That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States

    (emphasis added)

    Huh? The one good thing Bush actually tries to do is liberalize the status of foreign migrant workers.

    What’s up with that bit?

  55. “BTW the sulphur smell probably comes from the wonderful sanitation facilities to be found in that country.”

    New York, New York? I thought Rudy cleaned it up.

  56. The one good thing Bush actually tries to do is liberalize the status of foreign migrant workers.

    What’s up with that bit?

    Good point. Demonize by any means necessary. Next up, he’ll criticize Bush for nationalizing America’s oil industry.

  57. Unlike Venezuela, there were no elections in Cuba under Castro, which would seem to be a relevant point when discussing Castro’s political staying power, and speculating on Chavez’s.

    I thought they had elections just like Chicago?

  58. Do you mean “elections” or “glorious votes of confidence for our comrade leader”?

  59. No, I mean internationally certified, fair and free elections.

    Blurring the line between them and staged endorsements of dictators would seem to be counterproductive, unless you don’t really give a crap about democracy.

  60. “New York, New York? I thought Rudy cleaned it up.”

    Pee on you, P. Brooks.

    Yours truly,
    R.G.

  61. The one good thing Bush actually tries to do is liberalize the status of foreign migrant workers.

    What’s up with that bit?

    Get with the program, Eric. Bush is an evil oppressor white man, no matter what he does. It’s racial resentment populism, not so different from what Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton practice, except in Chavez’s case it’s internationalist.

  62. Blurring the line between them and staged endorsements of dictators would seem to be counterproductive, unless you don’t really give a crap about democracy.

    Completely agree, which makes me wonder whether a lot of the people out there certifying elections give a crap about democracy.

  63. Don’t you get it? When the opposition party voluntarily boycotts an election, it’s democracy. When they are forced to boycott an election, it’s dictatorship.

  64. “Completely agree, which makes me wonder whether a lot of the people out there certifying elections give a crap about democracy.”

    Ever been to Venezuela? Even once? No?

    Then where do you get off contradicting the reports of the elections monitors who were actually there, and who contradict you?

    Oh, right, you don’t like the political party of their most prominent spokesman, so you must be right.

  65. “I thought they had elections just like Chicago?”

    Guy wins the thread.

  66. Passivism and non-violence. It only really works when you’re not being attacked in earnest.

    But here’s the rub: Couldn’t they deal with this on a technicality– the same technicality all passifist governments use: get someone else to do the fighting?

    If they hire an exterminator, the monks don’t have to kill anything.

  67. “Me, I’m gonna do what Captain Kirk did in that non-win simulation and reject the terms. I’d choose “none of the above” and immigrate to America.”

    Which is why I’m glad mine did and crossed over the Rio Bravo del Norte in the back of a truck.

    I can’t believe that in this day and age people are giving any attention to a group of people practicing some sort of corn-worshipping superstition.

  68. Ever been to Venezuela? Even once? No?

    Nope. Have you? Thought not. Lets call this one a tie.

    Then where do you get off contradicting the reports of the elections monitors who were actually there, and who contradict you?

    Because I read stuff that makes me wonder just how free and fair these elections are, and I see other elections at least as questionable that these election monitors have also signed off on, and it makes me wonder, you know, if they really give a crap about democracy, or just about legitimizing unscrupulous lefty regimes.

  69. Blurring the line between them and staged endorsements of dictators would seem to be counterproductive, unless you don’t really give a crap about democracy.

    I don’t give a crap about democracy. A system where 100,000,001 people can tell 100,000,000 other people what to do is pure oppressive shit. I’d much prefer a system where it takes a vote of 90% to pass any law. That would not be perfect, but it would be far better. Only laws that are truly supported by the vast majority of the populace would exist. I’d be fine with that, even when I was part of the 10% opposed.

    Then where do you get off contradicting the reports of the elections monitors who were actually there, and who contradict you?

    Either you’re one of those people who spend two weeks in a foreign country and return home feeling you have a “real understanding” of the culture, or you are simply too credulous. I’ve noticed before that you don’t seem to understand that appealing to authority is a fallacious.

  70. Moving ants from one location to another doesn’t exactly constitute the same level of violence as killing them. And in most Buddhism, the intent to harm or have compassion is paramount.

    I myself am working on being able to compassionately punch someone in the face.

    But I’m a work in progress.

  71. tros:

    “Also, I know from first hand experience that the Mayan spirit guides think Bush/Cheney is the antichrist.”

    So you are a Mayan spirit guide! Fantastic. How do you get a gig like that?

    Paul:

    “If they hire an exterminator, the monks don’t have to kill anything.”

    They’d have a problem because of calling the exterminator themselves. I don’t think they’d feel comfortable getting off on a technicality. The best possible scenario is for some kindly exterminator to just bust in and start spraying. Since the monks are pacifist they would do nothing to stop him, the ants would be dead, and the monks would retain their proper relationship to the universe.

  72. “So maybe it’s only one-on-one anti-ant violence that’s prohibited, and you’re allowed to use a weapon of mass destruction like a vacuum cleaner?”

    I don’t think the vacuum would kill all the ants, nor even most of them. The deaths would be collatoral damage related to the method of transport. But it seems to me that, assuming the monk knew death could occur, he would be morally responsible for those deaths.

    “And suppose President Bush visits: Do you have to shake off the evil spirits individually, or can you do a general cleansing?”

    I don’t think you should assume that the Malaysian monks would regard Bush in the same way as the Mayans. I’m not even sure that Buddhists believe in evil spirits. Anyone have any idea about that?

    “Can you at least spray some Lysol to get rid of that sulfuric smell? Someone help me out here.”

    No. Lysol kills germs. Don’t pretend you don’t know that.

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