Saturday, January 21, 2017

#1779: Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson is an evil man. He is the news director for the American Family Association, and the kind of guy who systematically blames violent incidents on liberal churches and the media, institutions that according to Jackson are deemphasizing the fear of God and the Bible. Jackson (and his co-host Teddy James at the radio show AFA Today) did for instance maintain that the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting was a sign of God’s judgment for the failings of the public education system and liberal churches that affirm gays and lesbians. What gays and lesbians have to do with it should be obvious: Jackson is one of the Good guys, but doesn’t like gays, so gays must be Evil and thus in league with mass murderers. The boy scouts are apparently part ofthe Horde as well (in “open rebellion” against God, no less). And the forces of evil are backed by the courts; the SCOTUS gay marriage decision, for instance, led Jackson and Sandy Rios to declare that marriage, the institution God himself instituted in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were playing around with the dinosaurs some 6000 years ago, is now dead in the US and that God will have his vengeance on us. Good thing that when people disagree with you or things don’t go the way you wanted them to go, you can always call upon (what they seem to primarily think of as) a big bully friend to beat up the offenders, and claim that some random typhon hitting innocent farmers in Nicarague is evidence that he is doing your bidding.

AFA Today has hosted prominent and well-respected guests like Jan Markell (who for instance agreed with Jackson’s assessment of the refugee crisis in Europe that it is proof that God has “taken down any hedge” of protection – from Muslims, of course – around the continent because of its abandonment of Israel), Jerry Newcombe and Jerry Boykin.

Of course, Jackson sometimes makes forays into political issues beyond marriage equiality as well, for instance when he claimed that demanding public trials for police officers (or, really, holding them accountable at all) “sounds a whole lot like lynching”, or when he agreed with a caller that red states should secede from the US.

Diagnosis: A horrid little man; delusional, mean and zealous.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#1778: Hanan Islam

Hanan Islam is the executive director of the World Literacy Crusade (WLC), a California Scientology organization, and the founder of the National Association of Alternative Health Practitioners (NAAHP). She calls herself “dr. Hanan”, claiming to be a naturopathic physician with two doctorates and a master’s degree from Rochville University and the Eden Institute. Rochville is demonstrably a diploma mill, and no one seems to know what “Eden Institute” is supposed to be, which probably means it's spam. NAAHP is ostensibly a “comprehensive referral base of more than 1,000 Health practitioners, (MDs, NDs, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Homeopaths, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, RNs, Nurse Practitioners, etc.) practicing natural health therapies addressing the full spectrum of physical and spiritual maladies,” though Google primarily return a few sites on or about Islam if you search for it (and none of them, interestingly, appear to name any other member than her).

The WLC has had a bit more influence. It used to run a charter school in Florida, the Life Force Arts and Technology Academy, until 2012, when it filed for bankruptcy. Though Islam had reassured parents that the school wouldn’t be pushing religion (and it received about $800,000 a year in public funding), reports from former students and teachers sort of, well, contradict that claim, and the school seems to admit that its pedagogical approach was firmly rooted in L. Ron Hubbard’s pseudoscientific “study techs”. The WLC was founded by one Alfreddie Johnson, Jr., by the way, a close friend of both Louis Farrakhan and Isaac Hayes (Nation of Islam and Scientology enjoy substantial ties) to use “community-based literacy programs that utilize [sic ] the breakthrough study and drug rehabilitation methodologies developed by author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard.”

Islam also lists herself as a board member of the African American Mental Health Coalition, an organization that promotes such things as prayer, meditation, herbs and vitamins, and diet as “alternatives” to mental health care, and which lists Andrew Weil and Dr. Oz as their “favorite doctors.”

Diagnosis: A completely ridiculous character, but she has actually been in a position to cause genuine harm. Breathtaking.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#1777: Charlotte Iserbyt

Back in the days Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt was a senior policy advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education (Reagan’s first term – she was relieved of her duties in 1982), staff employee of the U.S. Department of State, and co-founder of the educational activism group Guardians of Education for Maine. These days she is most famous for raging and ranting about how current problems in education and prevailing anti-intellectualism in the US are caused by former Soviet KGB agents.

Much of her, uh, research and worries about the American education system are summed up in her 1999 book The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. According to the book, schools and universities are part of a conspiracy to suppress creative thinking and brainwash children into toeing the party line. There are several reasons why this should be obvious: For instance, since teaching a child to read, write and do basic math isn’t and shouldn’t be expensive or hard, the fact that education is currently costing a lot of money and takes a long time must be due to the efforts put into subsequent brainwashing.

More precisely, the public education system silently and nefariously work to eliminate the influences of a child’s parent, religion, morals and patriotism to “mold the child into a member of the proletariat in preparation for a socialist-collectivist world of the future.” These evil plans, and the psychological methods used to implement them, were formulated primarily by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Education (which ostensibly is at the heart of a great plot to start several large-scale wars and military conflicts to create world peace) and the Rockefeller General Education Board, but were adopted by the Ford foundation and even the president himself: during her stint in the Department of Education Iserbyt allegedly discovered, to her disbelief, how these socialist-collectivist policies originated all the way from President Reagan, Vice President George H. W. Bush, and their policy advisers, including the CIA. Yes: Reagan himself was really a communist agent – Iserbyt suspects he came under communist influence when he was a member of the National Advisory Council of the American Veterans Committee, apparently a communist front organization. And not only Reagan but his administration, the government, various large organizations and even multinational companies. If you don’t see some obvious problems with Iserbyt’s theory on your own, we’re not sure we can help you. One wonders, though, whether Iserbyt might be under some misconceptions concerning what counts as “communism” and “brainwashing”.

Further proof that she is right is the fact that some critics call her a “kook”.

Diagnosis: Well, “kook” sums it up pretty well, but “raving lunatic” seems even more appropriate. We doubt that her own influence is particularly momentous these days, but plenty of crazies have taken up similar causes.

Monday, January 16, 2017

#1776: Naomi Isaacson, Avraham Cohen & Rebekah Nett

Cohen, we think.
Naomi Isaacson is the president of Yehud-Monosson and CEO of SIST, which is apparently some kind of fundamentalist Zionist cult (full name Dr. R.C. Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology Inc. and officially an educational non-profit). Avraham Cohen, a.k.a. R.C. Samanta Roy, founded the cult in the seventies as a Christian end-times group – apparently the move to Judaism was somewhat gradual. And he managed to build quite a bit of fortune for himself – like many cult leaders Cohen claimed God-given abilities to read people’s minds, predict their futures, and heal their diseases – until the whole thing seems to have fallen apart in a flurry of bankruptcy claims and foreclosures around 2010 (more detailed story here and here).

It was Naomi Isaacson, however, who managed to draw some national attention when she and her attorney, cult member Rebekah Nett, filed a marvelously deranged brief with a bankruptcy court in 2011 (related to the SIST troubles, of course) in which they called U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Nancy Dreher, a “black-robed bigot”, another judge “a Jesuitess” with a “track record of lies, deceit, treachery and connivery” and both, together with some trustees, “dirty Catholics”. They also alleged that the courts were “composed of a bunch of ignoramus, bigoted Catholic beasts that carry the sword of the church.” Meanwhile, Isaacson said, the “things that this Debtor has gone through are worse than the Inquisition, the Holocaust, and blood libels,” and “[s]ince Debtor has been vocal in exposing their dirty deeds, these dirty Catholics have conspired together to hurt Debtor.” Suffice to say, those sort of antics don’t go over particularly well with courts, who ordered Isaacson and Nett to show cause why each shouldn’t be fined up to $10,000. You can follow the link above if you need some actual details of the case, but we don’t think that’s necessary to make a judgment about Isaacson and Nett.

Nett, who apparently grew up in the cult, later had her license revoked indefinitely for her behavior by the Minnesota Supreme Court for repeatedly making “frivolous and harassing personal attacks and discriminatory statements in 11 different pleadings in five distinct matters.

Isaacson and Nett emphasized, in their response, that they weren’t caling Dreher a member of the Roman Catholic Church when they called her a Catholic judge; rather, they were “referring to a mentality and an adherence to a universal creed of White Supremacy,” pointing out, for good measure, that Catholics and the Jesuit order were behind the slave trade, the sinking of the Titanic, World War II, the Holocaust and U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam.

Diagnosis: I suppose some might feel sorry for them, but these people are deranged, evil and dangerous. Avoid, at least unless you have some expertise in how to help people escape from this kind of thing.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

#1775: Darek Isaacs

Darek Isaacs is a young-earth creationist author and filmmaker, and (apparently) close ally/student of the Hovinds. Isaacs is the kind of guy who thinks an important objection to evolution (the theory of death to the weakest on Isaacs’s interpretation) is that it (as opposed to a literal reading of the Bible?) legitimizes rape, since evolution is all about the man propagating his DNA and all that matters in reproduction is the frequency of intercourse, whether the woman is willing or not. Oh, yes: It’s the familiar Hovind-level “understanding” of evolution, in which i) a strawman parody not even remotely related to the scientific theory in question is erected; ii) an is-ought fallacy is committed; and iii) the strawmen is rejected, by the age-old principle of wishful thinking, on the grounds of its ostensibly morally reprehensible corollaries.

Isaacs is, of course, a Biblical literalist. As such he believes that dragons are real, or at least that they were real back in Biblical times, and that 2000 years ago people understood and were appropriately scared of them. “The Bible speaks about dragons,” says Isaacs, and “our authority – everything we do, we have to measure by the word of God. That is what I believe. So we have to go to the Bible, and the Bible speaks about dragons.” It’s the kind of claim that should disqualify Isaacs from any discussion with anyone above the age of five, but which is actually relatively mainstraim among frothingly fundamentalist young earth creationists.

Isaacs is also the kind of researcher who publishes in Answer in Genesis’s house journal Answers; for volume 6, for instance, Isaacs published “Is There a Dominion Mandate?”, arguing that humans do not in fact have dominion over the earth (just think about Hurricane Sandy and all the dangerous wildlife) since The Fall.

Diagnosis: A Ray Comfort in the making, perhaps. Darek Isaacs is astoundingly silly, and one should perhaps not exaggerate his influence, but some people do apparently listen to him for other things than easy laughs.