Halloween Costumes and Illegal Aliens

This year’s Halloween costumes for sale include one adult jumpsuit with a space alien mask and the words “ILLEGAL ALIEN” printed across the chest. This has upset a Los Angeles immigrant rights group, who feels it is “racist”, that it hurts the sensitivities of people from south of the border who are illegally in the USA. Target took it off its website (it was not available in stores), but other sites were selling out of the costume, no doubt helped by the publicity of the group who objected.

The costume, of course, was a play on words intended as a bit of fun. The same kind of pun is made at the beginning of the movie Men in Black, here at the border between the USA and Mexico. Unlike the movie, there was nothing on the Halloween costume that specifically targeted Hispanic illegal aliens, though the sales spiel did make that reference in a humorous way. (“He didn’t just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy! He’s got his green card, but it’s from another planet!”)

This is not the only illegal alien costume. There is another costume that those groups have not objected to. This is the  “sexy illegal alien” costume, and this one clearly refers to Mexican illegal aliens through its pointed use of a sombrero and handcuffs.

My objection is not to the costume or to the outcry by some groups against it. These kinds of objections are symptomatic of our hypersensitive P.C. society, something we have to put up with as part of wanting to respect all people. However, do we have to sacrifice our sense of humor?

The irony is that “sexy illegal alien” costume, which was not objected to, is actually more objectionable than the “adult illegal alien” one, because it is sexist, it pointedly refers to Mexicans, it suggests they should be handcuffed, and it is almost totally without humor. (You do get shades with it, shaped like “alien” eyes.)

I do object to groups fudging the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. They say they are concerned about the rights of “all” immigrants, but they do more damage to the acceptance of legal immigration than good, as they continue to advocate and encourage acceptance of illegal activity.

The Nobel Peace Prize

So Obama got the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Peace Prize is supposed to be given to whomever has done the most “during the preceding year” to promote fraternity between nations, to abolish or reduce standing armies and for holding or promoting “peace congresses.”

Although the peace prize committee tried to justify it, I don’t think Obama has done enough to warrant the award, especially if by “preceding year” is meant the year 2008.

One joke (by Jay Leno) is that he got the prize for inviting a black Harvard professor and a white policeman to the White House to make peace over a few beers.

I have respect for the other Nobel awards, but the Peace Prize awards are often laughable, and I tend to view these with a degree of cynicism. With other Nobel awards, there is the passage of years that allows the honored achievement to be evaluated with the hindsight of time. This perspective is not given to the peace committee or it is not taken. So there is a danger of getting sucked into what appears now, rather than what is effective over a period of time.

In this way the 1973 peace prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger and Le Doc Tho for the “Paris Peace Accords”. The latter refused it, pointing out that there was no peace in his country, something that the Peace prize committee should have taken into account. But the war-mongering hawk Kissinger was only too happy to accept his for what turned out to be little more than a cynical exercise, for the United States continued bombing North Vietnam. In this category we could include the peace prizes that were awarded to leaders in the Middle East conflicts.

In the past, nominees for the peace prize have included Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini and (for a short time) Adolf Hitler.

Some awards make you wonder what the honoree has done with regard to fraternity between nations, army reduction or peace congresses. Most notable here is the 1979 award to Mother Teresa. She was deserving of some award, but what she did had nothing within the parameters of the Nobel Peace Prize, and, as her acceptance speech showed, she had no concept of what was needed for world peace.

The Nobel Peace Prize is deserving of the least respect among the Nobel Prize awards.

Where Was Moses?

When I was still in elementary school in Wau, Papua New Guinea, I was asked the riddle, “Where was Moses when the lights went out?” The answer was, “In the dark.” Whether it was my age, or my weak English, I was puzzled at first before I could make the leap and “get” it. There is a bigger riddle about Moses, which is intriguingly puzzling: “Where was Moses when his lights went out?” In other words, where was Moses when he died?

The children of Israel had come to the end of their “forty years” of wandering in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses. They now had a younger leader Joshua who was about to take them into the low land, Canaan, seen as their Promised Land. This is the time when Moses, their former leader, departed from them.

In Deuteronomy 3.27, Moses is told to “get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.”  Mount Pisgah is usually said to be in the mountains on the other side of the river Jordan, collectively known as Mount Abarim.  (Looking eastward, Moses would have seen nothing of Palestine.) We have a description of what Moses sees. “On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Bethpeor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon … And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah” (Deut. 4.46, 49). Finally,  “Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho, and the Lord shewed him” the Promised Land. Moses died and the Lord “buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (Deut. 34. 1-6).

These sites, Bethpeor, Heshbon and Pisgah, are still unidentified. There is a Mount Nebo, but as Wikipedia points out, scholars continue to dispute whether the modern day Nebo is the same mountain referred to in the Torah.

Here now is the riddle. These places have not been identified in and around Palestine, but they are all in Kashmir, India. How did Moses get there?

Bethpeor (meaning “place of opening”) is Behat-poor (now called Bandipur) where the Jehlum (formerly Behat) river valley opens up. Heshbon (often referred to in the Bible as “the pools of Heshbon”) is the same as Hashba, known for its pools. Pisgah is the easiest to identify, for it is a place with “springs” three miles north west of Hashba. Mount Nebo is Baal Nabu, a peak eight miles north west of Behat-poor (Bandipur). From here the entire Kashmir valley is visible, including Wullar Lake. And here also, near the top of the mountain, there is a tomb, known as the tomb of Moses.

The Lord’s Promised Land is a heaven on earth, a land of hills and valleys that “drinketh the water of the rain of heaven” (Deut. 11.11), a land that is naturally irrigated, and that has a “sea of the plain under the springs of Pisgah” (Deut. 4.49). There are more references of a similar nature. These hardly describe Palestine, but they very well describe Kashmir, down to its very large lake of fresh water.

So the answer to the question, where was Moses when his lights went out, seems to be: in Kashmir, of all places.

(Note that there are other references in the Bible that describe the Promised Land in terms that befit Kashmir, rather than Palestine. The ones in Isaiah seem to suggest that this is the Promised Land for the ten “lost” tribes of Israel after their captivity. These references are detailed in Jesus in Heaven on Earth by K. N. Ahmad, of which Chapter 18 is the reference source for this blog.)