The power of the Popular Assembly, although theoretically wide, was in practice limited by the fact that the Senate had to approve spending for every law. The Assembly did nonetheless have the power to cast the decisive vote in case of a conflict between the Suffets and the Senate. Before the 4th century BCE, Cildania also had a hereditary King; the power of the monarch was however very limited by the Senate and the Suffets, and by the time of the Selucian Wars the title had fallen into disuse.
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Qedarite culture revolved around the city of Qart Qildar, which had a vast number of monumental structures like theatres, gymnasiums, marketplaces, functional sewers, bath complexes complete with libraries and shops, and fountains with fresh drinking water. Life in Qart Qildar was based on the Cildanian ideal of citizenship in the city-state, such as the principles of equality under the law, civic participation in government, and notions that no one citizen should have too much power for too long.
In time, the culture of Cildania blended with those of the peoples under Qedarite rule to create a common culture that helped unite diverse groups within the empire. Bilingual Selucian - Cildanian inscription on a theater in Victoria, Selucia. Cildanian was written in the Qedarite script, the first alphabetic writing system on Terra which subsequently gave birth to most other alphabets. While Cildanian remained the main written language of the Qedarite Empire, other languages also gained prominence. Cildanian was never able to replace Selucian in Selucia proper and the Selucian colonies; in the South, Selucian evolved into Augustan , Ushalandan , and Istalian after the fall of the Qedarite Empire.
Also in the South, Kalopian became a lingua franca and the language of the educated elite, even amongst the Selucian population. In West Majatra Kathuran emerged as the regional lingua franca, and the Kathuran adaptation of the Qedarite script, the Arakhim alphabet, was adopted as the writing system of Cildanian and Yeudi towards the end of the Empire. Cildanian religion was based on Qedarite religious practices and was polytheistic in nature.
Cildanian pantheon was presided over by the father of the gods, but Ishtart was the principal figure in the Qedarite pantheon. As the Cildanians extended their dominance throughout the Majatran world, their policy in general was to absorb the deities and cults of other peoples rather than try to eradicate them, since they believed that preserving tradition promoted social stability. One way that Qedar incorporated diverse peoples was by supporting their religious heritage, building temples to local deities that framed their theology within the hierarchy of Cildanian religion.
Since C. The phrase heretical filth , used to describe Cathars and Waldensians, was echoed over the centuries by references to Jews as filthy, women as unclean, Indians as vermin, Bolsheviks on trial as filthy scum and Nazi depictions of Jews as rats who carried disease. Almost all campaigns of violence were attempts at purification by the elimination of filth or pollution. Cleanliness was indeed next to Godliness and physical cleanliness was often seen as a substitute for or representation of moral and spiritual cleanliness.
Since white is the color of purity and cleanliness, white Christians may conclude people of color are dirty or contaminating. The source of pollution may change over time — Jews are no longer accused of poisoning wells; people now fear recent immigrants of color contaminating our society — but concern for purity remains. We see fear expressed in public policy discussions when homosexuals are accused of spreading AIDS or of defiling the sanctity of marriage. The valuation of purity leads many to work for the so-called cleansing of society through prohibitions on sinful behavior and elimination of contaminating groups.
A plea of innocence is not only a denial of responsibility; it can also be a failure to acknowledge complicity. Our society is based on inequalities of wealth and power — multiple, intersecting systems of oppression. Many people are in great need. No one is disconnected from these problems; innocence and guilt are not useful referents. Instead they may support campaigns of purification rather than efforts to address the roots of injustice, allowing themselves to maintain a sense of personal purity or innocence. Public health campaigns — from the prohibition of alcohol to abstinence-only sex education programs — highlight how many see the pursuit of purity as an antidote to sin.
Rather than acknowledging the complexity of social issues, Christian-dominated thinking urges us to adopt single issue campaigns based on a binary sense of all or nothing, sinfulness or purity. The Christian concept of charity as an individual act that brings salvation to others is a variation on the savior narrative on a personal level. This limited vision of in-the-worldness suggests that one can do holy works in the world even though the world is not sacred.
Through charity, a person shares their love of God. This contradiction can lead people to be more concerned about their good intentions than the real impact of their actions. The concept of charity was dramatically transformed in the midth century. The role for increasing numbers of white women, as they were being confined to domestic roles in middle-class households, became not only care of children, but also a new humanitarian mandate to care for the poor, the infirm and all of those who were called primitive people such as slaves and Native Americans who needed Christian love and salvation.
White women were thought to speak with female moral authority because they possessed a humanitarian sensibility deemed appropriate and unique. At the same time, they became symbols not only of gender-based moral sensibility but also of racial superiority. The privileges allowing the middle-class and wealthy to be generous were materially dependent on the unpaid or low-paid labor of the very population they were helping.
With that relationship obscured, what was called and still is called humanitarian work served to maintain the dependency of those in need. Charity is a one-way relationship, not a reciprocal one, and it reinforces unequal power relationships between those with privilege and those without, while at the same time reinscribing larger hierarchies of race, class and gender.
By the end of the 19th century, the United States began to define itself not just as a nation of generous individuals, but a benevolent nation helping benighted peoples such as Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Filipinos. Of course, we had to take over those countries and exterminate many of their citizens to exercise our generosity. But as President William McKinley stated so explicitly, it was both our generosity and our god-given responsibility to help them become Christian and civilized.
Even today, these relations of rescue , whether individual or national, continue to justify interventions that are rarely beneficial to those receiving such so-called help.
And they may be guided by Christian values to be so. But when we respond to suffering only in the form of individual acts of compassion, we neglect examining the underlying system that distributes resources in such a way some people prosper and others languish. The causal connection between the accumulation of wealth by charitable individuals and the people whose problems may actually be caused by the exploitive accumulation of wealth is obscured.
In addition, charitable acts are useful to the recipients in the short term but provide no long-term solutions to social need. A million charitable donations to soup kitchens or homeless shelters will neither provide living-wage jobs to eliminate the need for soup kitchens nor construct affordable housing to eliminate homelessness. Christian charity may be felt to be an obligation, but it is a discretionary one. In an effect labeled moral credentialing , researchers have found that some people, after performing what they consider to be a good deed, may feel that next time they get a pass.
They become less likely to act charitably in future situations because they have already established their virtue. Some Christians work for social change rather than only for social service. But groups from Abolitionists to contemporary peace and environmental activists, always a minority, are often persecuted by other Christians.
Without examining the structural roots of social problems, people doing such work may only be providing a palliative for the impact of corporate and governmental policies which benefit them. Lillian Smith. Killers of the Dream. Norton, , p. Case and Robin Hawley Gorsline, eds.
Pilgrim Press, which drew my attention to this quote. Beacon Press, , pp. Jeffrey Richards, Sex, Dissidence , Damnation. Routledge, , p. Ashis Nandy. Oxford, quoted in Sardar, Postmodernism and the Other , p. In C. Jonathan Kirsch. HarperCollins, , p. Abraham Joshua Heschel. Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity. Peggy Pascoe. Oxford, Thomas L.
Princeton, , p. While trying to decide what to do about the Philippines, McKinley stated that he got down on his knees and prayed. Harper Perennial, , p. Pascoe, Relations of Rescue quoted in Susan M. Cornell, , p. Stephen Hart. What Does the Lord Require? Rutgers, , p.
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For insightful articles about the impact of nonprofits and NGOs see: Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. South End, These concepts continue to have a major impact on Christians and non-Christians alike. As Michael Steele has written:. Obviously the Christian Bible is a complex, self-contradictory body of work open to a wide variety of interpretations and shifting meanings.
Its core consists of two parts. The Old Testament is a translation, reinterpretation and reordering of earlier Jewish texts the Tanach. The New Testament is a series of narratives written by followers of Jesus several decades or more after his death. Many of the current interpretations were consolidated during the Papal Revolution in the 12th and 13th centuries, with further revisions coming out of the Protestant Reformation.
There continue to be shifts in the interpretation of and emphasis on various texts, passages and even words. The Church traditionally declared heretical any belief or behavior which the ruling elites of the time decided were dangerous to their power or simply out of line with what they wanted people to believe. Officially sanctioned beliefs governed not just spiritual but also social matters, such as whether the earth or the sun was the center of the universe, the roles of women, the economics of poverty and charity, who could preach and who could learn to read and write.
To fully understand these impacts it is necessary to understand the force authorities used to propagate these sanctioned ideas and the range of beliefs for which they persecuted people. Enforcement has taken many forms over the centuries. Dissenters have faced disparagement, banning, flogging, shame and isolation as well as torture and death. Entire communities and nations have been colonized or eradicated.
Ruling elites altered or destroyed what they called heretical texts, thereby limiting access to alternative viewpoints. These same elites used every available educational, social and cultural medium to reinforce dominant messages and acceptable thinking and behavior. They also made sure human models deemed exemplary were praised and glorified made saints.
They attacked the slightest deviance from orthodoxy. Christendom conquered with military force. But along with force came a worldview that saw itself carrying an undeniable truth that was modern, civilized and civilizing , saved and saving right and righteous. In addition to land and bodies, Christendom colonized minds. I would contend that, although Christianity has tried to destroy dissenting visions, these visions are intrinsic to human beings and ultimately indomitable.
They can be suppressed but not eliminated, even by centuries of dominance. Early Christians adopted some of the concepts discussed below from Greek, Roman, Jewish and other traditions. They created others from the teachings of Jesus as retold, edited, interpreted and translated in the first three centuries after his death. Later theologians overlaid newer concepts on this foundation.
Although some of the concepts are not unique to Christianity, they are discussed here because their rootedness in our daily lives results from Christian dominance within Western societies. It is the codification, institutionalization and enforcement of these beliefs that make them such a powerful force. Christianity includes such a variety of sects and denominations that for almost any general statement about it there will be some group that can be pointed to as an exception.
However, not all denominations are equally influential. In addition, some forms of Christianity have had a greater impact on western culture than others in various historical periods or regions. Catholicism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism Episcopalianism , Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism are among those denominations most practiced by ruling class elites and therefore most significant in shaping dominant Christianity. There are of course many ways to interpret the texts and teachings of Jesus, and many ways to understand early church leaders or to practice Christianity.
What follows is an attempt to delineate the Christian concepts that have become dominant in our society. They are taught and enforced as a package, and as such provide a totalizing framework for understanding the world. These are the roots that hold the tree of Christian hegemony in place and nourish the branches — its everyday manifestations in our lives. Borrowing from the Persian-centered religion Manichaeism, early Christian leaders established their religion on a series of moral binaries.
This dualistic perspective has dominated Western thought, constraining our thinking about gender, race, religion, ability and national identity. Dualism shapes all aspects of our thinking. We come for example to assume there naturally are white people and people of color, even though there is only one human race which contains a continuum of skin colors; we speak of two genders, despite physical evidence that not everyone falls into one of those two categories.
The moral overlay leads us to assume the two false sides of a binary are opposite or opposing and one is superior to the other. Nowhere is this moral binary more evident than in the nearly constant ways we judge things good or bad in everyday conversation. The weather is not good or bad, it just is. Rain might be inconvenient, disappointing, uncomfortable for some and welcome, needed or comforting for others.
Our simple judgment gives the weather a moral status and our binary shorthand lets us avoid actually describing the weather or acknowledging the personal and relative nature of the statements we make. Similarly, people are not good or bad. We are each complex, not easily summarized or dismissed by a judgment. And we know good people are sometimes not what they seem. We may even internalize judgment and believe that we are a good or bad person. A moral binary worldview encourages individuals to split themselves psychologically by claiming superior qualities and disclaiming inferior ones, perhaps even projecting the latter onto others.
What can a person do with those qualities found within but which they perceive to be anathema? Or qualities that are ambiguous, complex, inconsistent? If someone has a different opinion than I do, it is simply a different opinion. However, people often assume that if it is different it must be opposite — opposed to — in competition with me and my opinion. Dualism provides no room to hold several possibilities in mind because it encourages us to find Truth and to condemn everything else as lies and spiritual error.
But it would help undermine Christian hegemony and reconnect us to each other if we more often described the world around us without resorting to simple moral judgments. We would be more able to acknowledge and respond to the complexity of ideas, people and even the weather. In addition, if we used I statements I think, I feel, I believe it would help us acknowledge that what is true for us our truth is not necessarily true for others.
The bad news about the rain on our picnic can be acknowledged as the good news for the farmer whose crops need moisture. The following list contains examples of the way our language and thinking reflect a dualistic value-laden perception of the world. It is easy to see how the moral judgment is built into the binaries.
If you think about the terms in the right column you will notice the sense of danger attached to these concepts. For example, dirty contaminates clean or pure; profane pollutes sacred or holy. This dualistic vision conditions people to be afraid all of the time because anything pure, clean or innocent can become contaminated. Constant vigilance is therefore called for, which not only necessitates constant anxiety; it can lead to pre-emptive attack to prevent contagion. Attack can always be justified, in turn, by the constant threat of danger and the belief the devil is always looking for weakness and opportunity to attack.
Moral dualism may also distort our attitudes towards others. We may generally accept people as good, and then, if they do something we find offensive, condemn them as bad and reject them. Dualism makes it difficult to stay in relationship with people in their complexity — loving and caring for them, yet still holding them accountable for their actions. The challenges we face are rarely simple. Too often, people quickly assume a polarity, an us-versus-them framework, to understand what is happening. A major Christian belief, connected to this binary framework, is that everything not associated with good and Godliness is connected to the devil Satan and his minions.
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Being opposite, or the Other, is interpreted as being in opposition to God. The world is understood to be a stage for cosmic struggle. This framework assumes, in the words of Belgium political analyst Jean Bricmont:. Good and Evil exist and do battle in and by themselves, that is independently of any given historical circumstances. To combat Evil, the only solution is to mobilize what is Good: arouse it from its lethargy, arm it, and send it off to destroy Evil.
That is the philosophy of permanent good conscience and of war without end. When evil becomes cosmic, any social conflict or war easily escalates into a crusade. Political leaders can manipulate fear of evil to declare a holy war against a demonized enemy. Acceptance of the cosmic battle leads to a belief in the redemptive power of violence.
Regular violence, the kind employed by the evil ones, is cruel and fanatical. We, being morally virtuous, are reluctant to use violence, but since we define our enemies as inherently evil, totally uncompromising and irredeemably dangerous, we have to kill them. We are required to use any means necessary so we can cleanse the world and redeem ourselves as virtuous saviors.
There are many different military metaphors used in dominant Christianity to convey this cosmic battleground, such as spiritual warfare , soldiers for Christ , battlefronts for Christ and militant discipline. These violent metaphors encourage a militant response to those labeled enemies. Moral absolutism insures continuous war, with a shifting series of people and nations standing on an opposing side.
The devil is believed to wear many guises, and Christendom is perceived to be constantly under attack. The very definition of the United States as a good, God-fearing country is dependent on its contrast to groups of barbaric and Godless others. On the interpersonal level, belief that there is a devil actively trying to destroy everything good leads to a somewhat paranoid response to other people. A person expecting ever-present moral danger would naturally have to be wary around anyone not fully and visibly committed to God.
Such binary thinkers demand those around them take a stand, have an opinion, declare which side they are on. Those socialized as male in particular are expected to take a strong stand for what they believe in. The cosmic battle between good and evil can play out on a personal level as well. Personal struggles may evoke feelings of sinfulness and personal failure — or virtuousness and self-righteousness — because of the moral significance attached to them. Love is a core some might say the central value in Christianity. God loves all people; therefore Christians are enjoined to love one another.
Christians are encouraged to love others regardless of who they are or what they do. In other words, all Christians are brothers and part of the community of the saved, but heathens and heretics are explicitly not included. There is often an implicit assumption that those who are members of the community and entitled to loving-kindness, human rights or freedom share some unmentioned but critical quality or characteristic which entitles them to inclusion.
Native Americans, Jews, Muslims and atheists are not eligible unless they convert to Christianity. I am saying that dominant Christianity has established concepts of love and brotherhood that intentionally exclude huge numbers of people and mark others as inferiors. Hierarchy and obedience are key concepts relating to love. The word Lord originally referred to medieval rulers who had great power over impoverished peasants.
Hierarchical structures and institutions preceded Christian ones. But elites grafted these relationships of dominance onto the moral hierarchy within Christianity. Community members have a duty to obey religious authority. Women have a duty to obey men, and correspondingly children their parents and adults in general.
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Through this emphasis on hierarchy, love is intimately tied to obedience. God loves people, but only favors them when they are obedient. Otherwise, he becomes angry and destructive, even to the point of destroying them. Similarly, the love of a man for a woman in heterosexual marriage is contingent on her obedience.
If you have been taught to love, forgive and even turn the other cheek, it can be difficult to confront those who are attacking you. This connection of love to hierarchy and obedience can also be confusing to the abuser because they have learned that those in authority have a responsibility to enact obedience for the moral good of those they have authority over. A person can go to hell for being disobedient and it is up to a husband, parent or other authority figure to save the willful and disobedient from that fate through discipline.
Traditionally, any level of abuse has been accepted as legitimate to enact obedience, because one is doing it for the good of the person being disciplined. If a husband fails to discipline his wife or a parent their child, then they are morally remiss. They have failed in their role as guide and protector, and they also fail to protect the community from the danger disobedience brings. In this view, those who do not punish can become complicit with evil by not being successful in guiding their charges away from it.
This puts the salvation of everyone in authority at risk. Christians are required to submit to any authority legitimized by their religion. In the Enlightenment, obedience to so-called proper authority became a secular legal principle in European natural law. This was accepted as true for whole nations as well as individuals, justifying wars of aggression against those identified as pagans as well as domestic violence and child abuse.
Very often analogies were made between the naturalness of children obeying adults, women obeying men and pagans submitting to Christians. Prominent Spanish theologian Gines de Sepulveda in justified the destruction of indigenous peoples in the Americas in this way:. Bringing to submission by force of arms, if this is not possible by any other means, those who by their natural condition should obey others but refuse their authority. The greatest philosophers declare that this war is just by law of nature … It is just and natural that prudent, honest and humane men should rule over those who are not so … the Spaniards rule with perfect right over these barbarians of the New World and the adjacent islands who in prudence, intellect, virtue and humanity are as much inferior to the Spaniards as children to adults and women to men, since there exists between them as great a difference as that between … apes and men.
Similar reasoning was also a common way to justify slavery. Slavery and wives submitting to husbands were often referred to as parallels, the naturalness of one being used to support the inevitability of the other. In the 21st century, parents still routinely hit their children because they are disobedient. Even very young children are perceived to be willful — with a will that needs to be broken, or at least bent, so they will grow into respectful and obedient adults.
This interlocking of love, hierarchy and obedience sets up continuing cycles of violence in many families. Men are trained to defer to their bosses and, if living with women, to be the boss at home. Although some heterosexual couples strive for egalitarian relationships, these can be undermined by the deep expectations of duty and obedience that both men and women carry within.
Moreover, when people expect love to be embedded in relationships of hierarchy and obedience it can undermine their attempts to bring about more democratic and egalitarian communities. It can also undermine attempts to fight injustice because resistance requires challenging those in authority and dismantling internalized lower moral worth when one is supposed to be inferior — and therefore obedient. While many individual Christians believe love and obedience are not related and that violence subverts love, this theology so intertwines the concepts that some claim their abuse is a loving act.
In other words, are they, or will they be, saved or damned? Some Christian denominations believe that if a person is born a Christian they are saved, and only those not born a Christian have souls that are in mortal danger. But even if they are born saved, these Christians still face a lifetime of temptation. Other denominations believe even those born Christian need to be born again, or at least baptized. In any case, the dominant belief is that people are not good, spiritually healthy and whole as they are. Each person stands alone and since the penalty for not being saved is eternal damnation, the stakes are high.
People will claim their innocence to protect their souls. In our society, most people want to be good -innocent of wrongdoing — not necessarily because of their impact on other people, but because it reflects their state of righteousness. The emphasis on individuals as sinful can give people a deep sense of moral unworthiness that ruling elites under capitalism then exploit, encouraging people to become tireless workers and avid consumers.
These elites can take advantage of latent beliefs about good and evil, as well as feelings of guilt, inferiority or badness, to manipulate people into buying products, goods and services they do not need and that may even be destructive. Christianity is not the only religion to set strict moral expectations and then to exhort people to live up to them. But Christianity begins with the assumptions that humans are sinful and every day is a battle against temptation.
These teachings create a basic feeling of inadequacy in many, since every person has a body and that body has needs for food, pleasure and intimacy. Because purity of intent is believed to absolve an individual from the consequences of their actions, when someone is confronted with a simple mistake, an uncharitable act or any questioning of their integrity, often their first response is to defend their innocence.
In most cases, the person or group bringing up the problem has no concern about the moral goodness of the person they are confronting. They are likely just bringing up a situation that needs attention. Everyone makes mistakes; problems are simply things that need to be addressed. And as we know, that war exterminated probably two hundred thousand Iraqis.
Half of them innocent civilians. Simply wiped out in a bombing campaign and a military expedition of unprecedented dimensions. But remember, it took fifteen years for the Pentagon and three different administrations both Republicans and Democrats to get the capability to do this. And then, when that genocide or conflict was over, what happened? To destroy Iraq as an effectively viable state. In his book, Clash of Civilizations , Huntington from Harvard who advised the Pentagon and advised the State Department pointed out that the only Arab state with the capability to lead the Arab world and challenge the United States and Israel was Iraq.
And so Iraq had to be destroyed, to maintain the domination of the United States and its proxy, Israel. And remember after , whatever it was before then, Israel is nothing more than a catspaw of the United States. They do what America tells them to do! Otherwise Israel is nothing more than a failed state. In addition then, to destroying Iraq as a state, carving it up into three pieces, was the decision to debilitate and destroy the Iraqi people.
And so they continued the genocidal economic sanctions on the people of Iraq, that my colleagues, Denis Halliday, Hans Von Sponeck, so courageously resisted and finally resigned from the United Nations as a matter of principle, calling them by what they really were: genocide. The United States and Britain maliciously and criminally imposed genocidal sanctions on the people of Iraq, that killed approximately 1. And when U. Ambassador to the United Nations and later Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked about the five hundred thousand dead children, she said that she thought the price was worth it.
Now, I could have taken that statement to the International Court of Justice, and filed it against the United States as evidence of genocidal intent against the people of Iraq in violation of the Genocide Convention. And indeed I offered to do so to the then President of Iraq, but for whatever reasons he decided not to take these claims to the International Court of Justice. And now, as you see, he is on trial in a total kangaroo court proceeding in Baghdad that is completely controlled and dominated by the United States government.
So, 1. And then came September And we know for a fact that the Bush Jr. And they let it happen anyway deliberately and on purpose. They wanted a pretext for war. And not just one war but for a long war which they are talking about today. Indeed, from my research the war plans drawn up by the Pentagon for the war against Afghanistan were formulated as early as Enormous military forces fielded by that same U.
Central Command, were already in and around and surrounding the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean before September This war had been long-planned against Afghanistan. And armed, equipped, supplied, trained and war-gamed and ready to go. They just needed the pretext and that was September The United States wanted access to the oil and natural gas of Central Asia.
That had been a Pentagon objective since at least before the collapse of the Soviet Union in And they are there today with their bases, with their troops, in the surrounding countries in Central Asia. But that, as we know from all the records was only the first step in the process. They wanted to finish the job in Iraq. And so immediately after September 11, Bush ordered Rumsfeld to update and operationalize the plans for attacking and invading Iraq.
It had nothing at all to do with weapons of mass destruction. We in the peace movement in America had been saying that all along. The United Nations had determined there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. These were lies designed to scaremonger the American people and Congress into supporting an illegal war of aggression, a Nuremberg crime against peace, against Iraq. And they told whatever lies and broke what international laws they had to break in order to attack Iraq. Perhaps two hundred thousand people in Iraq had been killed outright by the United States, Britain, their allies, in Iraq.
And again, most of them civilians. Clearly if you add up what United States government has done to Iraq from August of , when it imposed the genocidal economic embargo until today. The United States and Britain have inflicted outright genocide on the Muslim and Christian people of Iraq and they are predominately Muslim as we know. It sounds a bit like the plan that Hitler and the Nazis had in the s.
Does it not? First go into Austria, then go into Czechoslovakia, then go into Poland. So first Afghanistan, then Iraq, and now Iran. Iran is going to be the next victim of these outright criminals unless you and I can stop them.