Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Explanation for 9/11

Virtually no one – on the left or on the right - has figured out the reason Islamic terrorists savagely attacked America on 9/11. Most attempts at explanation are fantasies pulled out of thin air, or projections of motives that seem plausible from Western sensibilities, or just crude reworking of bin Laden’s propaganda. We are told that bin Laden wanted to get us to leave Saudi Arabia, trap us into a fight in Iraq, rally Muslims in a fight with civilization, or destroy our economy. Almost all of these explanations are utilitarian in nature. The attacks are seen as instrumental in an attempt to achieve some tangible goal.

I’ve argued otherwise. The 9/11 atrocity was a purely religious act. By that I mean it was undertaken to reaffirm and celebrate the faith – Islam. Both the left and right just can’t face this fact. I’ve written about the denial of the Islamic threat by both camps. Here’s what I said in one of the articles:
To this day, the Islamic attack of 9/11 is not understood. This was first and foremost a religious act. That is hard for Americans to fathom given the religions they know. Islam, however, is very different. Islam is a warrior religion at its core. It is an imperialistic religion bent on world domination and, at the height of Islamic power, conquered most of the known world. … During the last few centuries, Islam was often mechanically practiced and only lip-service given to its warrior triumphalism. … It didn’t seem possible to regain the glory of Islam when it ruled what seemed like the world and reduced the infidels to constant humiliation as second class citizens called dhimmis. The Islamic attack of 9/11 was a reaffirmation of the Jihadist spirit – it was indeed a religious act meant to galvanize the believers and recruit men for the Jihad. And in accord to Islamic practice, a reaffirmation of Islamic superiority involves the humiliation of the dhimmis.
Recently Daniel Pipes and Mark Steyn discuss the possible aims of attacking America on 9/11 from an instrumentalist perspective and declare bin Laden a failure. There is no greater authority on the Islamic Revival, in the last 30 years, than Daniel Pipes. However, that doesn’t stop me from arguing that he doesn’t go far enough in understanding the religious basis of 9/11. I write on his blog:
I think you underestimate the re-affirmation aspect of jihadist violence. It galvanizes the faithful in what can only be categorized as a religious re-affirmational act. Yes, there is an accompanying fantasy but the very act itself is more than a momentary indulgence of that fantasy. Religions acts often seem like irrational indulgences or bizarre rituals to the outsiders. We, in the West, have an overemphasis on the utilitarian or instrumental value that is all too common for the modern rationalist.
Prof. Irfan Khawaja, a son of Pakistani immigrants, was raised as a Muslim and as a devout child memorized the Koran. He says that I didn’t go far enough!
Jason--I think you're right, but I would go further: I don't think the resort to fantasy is a merely "momentary indulgence." When jihadists destroy an important symbol like the WTC, it functions to re-affirm their sense that God is on their side; how else, on their terms, could such a spectacular success have been possible? Such successes dovetail very well with Quranic pronouncements about God's destruction of the wicked, whether via human violence or through "direct divine action" (e.g., God's dealings with the Pharoah, the cities of 'Ad and Thamoud described in the Quran, etc.).
Today, Prof. Khawaja heads the Institute for The Secularisation of Islamic Society taking over the position previously held by Ibn Warraq.

I’ll say it again: people, we have to learn about this religion if we want to understand our enemy. Don’t settle for some feel-good explanation that justifies your political ideology. Learn about Islam. Here are some references.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Talking about the Islamic threat

Never, to my knowledge, has a country gone to war while praising the enemy’s ideology. Indeed, in wartime a healthy culture, justifiably proud, takes stock of its greatness in the face of a brutal and barbaric enemy. The Greatest Generation had the moral clarity to face the enemy’s nature without silly bromides like “Shinto is a peaceful religion.” No one felt any compunction about showing disrespect to Nazism or Mein Kampf.

Today, there is a no public debate on the nature of the enemy’s ideology: Islam. None! A few brave souls discuss this matter within a small community of highly literate independent thinkers. Otherwise, there is a wall of silence buttressed on one side by the moral equivalence of multi-cultural dogma and on the other side by the ecumenical all-religions-are-good habitual way of thinking.

The silence is so overbearing, so oppressive, and so dangerous, that you just want to shake people up and say: face the damn facts. However, it’s extremely important that we educate others in an intelligent manner. Our fellow citizens are having trouble dealing with the facts – what we need most is intellectual leadership. If you use attention-getting tactics, like I considered in my last post, you have to be able to adroitly exploit that attention to enhance an intelligent discussion – and that’s far from trivial.

First of all, you have to get to the essence in few words without too many miss-implications. For example: Islam is a supremacist political ideology founded by a man who led military battles of conquest and subjugation. Seventh century political ideologies tended to be religious but that’s secondary.

I stay away from minor details. Mohammad’s marriage to a seven year old doesn’t threaten our country – skip it. Stay focused on the salient features. “Yes, Mohammad did preach tolerance – when he was an outsider trying to get accepted in Mecca – but when Mohammad rose to power in Medina he plundered, slaughtered, terrorized, conquered and oppressed. As for tolerance, he ethnically cleansed Medina of Jews (an agricultural town founded by Jews.)”

Secondly, beware of the bait-and-switch. Focus on the ideology. The first question you’ll be asked is: “Do you think all Muslims behave like that?” This is a cleaver bait-and-switch to get you to change from the ideology of Islam to the nominal demographic group, Muslims. Here’s what I say: “Of course, not. Many Muslims are lax or lapsed in their practice. They are often Muslims in name only. Being a lapsed Muslims is a good thing. However, some Muslims take seriously their duty to wage jihad on the Infidel and they put that into practice. The ideology in practice is the problem; let’s look at that ideology and what it means in practice.”

The bait-and-switch ploy aims at getting you to vilify some poor Muslim candy-store owner who’s damn happy to be in this country. It’s an attempt to make you look foolish and cruel. Sure there are individuals who are engaged in activities against our government – let the authorities handle that and refer the listener to Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, and Steven Emerson – all who write about these matters and have the facts at hand.

During the Cold War, it was the left that demanded that anti-communists name names. Instead of focusing on the ideology first and foremost, the right got suckered into a debate on each and every individual communist. Most, we now know, were communists, but back then it helped to get sympathy for the accused.

Finally, don’t debate the history of Christianity. It’s just too many details. The important point is that Christians have been able to privatize their religion and create tolerant societies where we settle debates with reason and evidence. Our culture shows the influence of Hellenic rationalism and most people take it for granted. I’m not religious, but I have no problem explaining how contemporary Christianity, as widely practiced, is light-years away from Islam. Is anyone flying planes into office buildings yelling Jesus is Lord? It’s easy to see the different examples of Jesus, who never ruled but died on the cross, and Mohammad, who conquered and founded an imperialist supremacist ideology.

Finally, can Islam change and modernize like Christianity? I talk about it here.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Let's burn the Koran

As you may have noticed, burning the American flag is as pastime in Islamic countries, even though it must equal the cost of the average burka. Cost is no object when it comes to desecrating a beloved American symbol – the symbol of civilization’s triumph over the barbarity of totalitarian fascism and Japanese imperialism. But then again, some instinctually know what side of the line they belong.

Have you notice the Korans being burnt on campuses of American Universities? You missed that? How about the Koran burings in Union Square by the usual anarchists? No, you missed that also? Such acts seem to be a major concern for our honorable men and women in Congress … or at least one, Mr. John Conyers, who, according to this article, has introduced a resolution that “condemns bigotry and intolerance against any religious group, including our friends, neighbors and citizens of the Islamic faith.” (Hat tip: Sixth Column)

I find this offensive. In response, I will send my representatives the following letter:
I must protest any resolution, such as that offered by Rep. Conyers, or any law that specifies respect for a religion. The 1st amendment, which allows freedom of religion, also allows freedom to speak out against religion. In addition, Islam is a political ideology first and foremost. To restrict political speech is a gross violation of the 1st amendment which threatens the very discourse required for a functioning democracy.

If there is a resolution or law in response to the allegations of disrespect to the Koran, I will join with others to organize public desecrations of the Koran to demonstrate that Americans can and will be free to criticize any idea or belief system in any way they choose. This offensive resolution requires a severe response. We will not be silenced.
Come to think of it, why not respond to their flag burning with a Koran burning? That, of course, is how some of us feel about Islam. Why not be honest about it? Why don’t we tell them what we feel about their culture and religion? Islam is a shameful religion. As Muslims kill for any perceived slight or merely to reaffirm the religion, they earn our contempt. Shame and honor are a central focus of Islamic societies, shouldn’t they hear about the shame and dishonor that they’ve brought upon themselves?

Of course, an articulated refutation of the Islamic ideology is preferable. But they are mostly illiterate – as illiterate as their Prophet. A good Koran burning – or perhaps one on a regular basis – is something they are not expecting. They will certainly wonder why. Or perhaps they might face the fact that the world is sick and tired of the bullshit that emanates from Islamic countries.

Well, I was intending this to be a family website but I guess that last sentence was a bit impolite. Sometimes I get carried away. Oh, by the way, feel free to send the above letter to your representatives or paste this article with or without credit.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Islamic Enemy in America

First there was Daniel Pipes’ book, “Militant Islam Reaches America.” Pipes, the premier writer on Islamism, defines their intensions for America. Now comes Paul Sperry’s book, “Infiltration.” He exposes the “covert jihad” that is ignored by the hapless FBI, aided by terrorist apologist groups like CAIR, and even has influence in the White House. The silence of our leaders is not a sly tactical move. Sperry notes:
“But the officials in Washington leading the fight against this enemy still don’t get it. They still don’t understand the enemy’s motivation, or at least won’t talk candidly about it. A virtual taboo exists in official circles about Islam’s role in terrorism. It is treated as if it comes out of the blue, as if there is no religious pattern.”
Read a full review of this book on the Sixth Column. This is yet another must read to add to the core library.

Friday, May 13, 2005

What Makes Capitalism Great?

What one book on politics and/or economics would you recommend to someone new to free market, libertarian, conservative or classical liberal ideas? I can easily list a number of worthy authors: Fredrick Hayek, Milton Freedman, Adam Smith, Frederic Bastait, Ludwig von Mises, Thomas Sowell, and Henry Hazlitt. However, if I had to recommend one book I’d have to pick my favorite (and a favorite of Alan Greenspan’s), Ayn Rand’s “Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal.”

Start with the title. Rand doesn’t mince words. She takes the word, capitalism, originally used by socialists as a pejorative, and waves it proudly. Instead of “free markets”, “conservatism,” or “libertarianism,” this feisty gal takes the bull by the horn and is ready for battle. Not only is she going to defend the free market as an effective economic system, which it obviously is, but she’s on a crusade to redeem capitalism as a moral ideal – one that has never been fully appreciated in just those terms.

In the 1960s, when the book came out, this was a radical idea. Most defenders of capitalism argued that despite any moral worth or, even worse, despite its unseemly appeal to man’s base desires, capitalism works better than the rest. They generally conceded the moral high-ground to the socialist’s “good intensions,” but damned human nature as unworthy of such lofty ideals.

Rand took the opposite approach. She boasted that capitalism enabled human achievement because it is morally superior and truly ideal. Capitalism respects the source of human achievement: the individual mind. Only individual rights and liberty, which are capitalism’s essence, can secure a society where one can nurture the capacities required to live this life to the fullest. What are these capacities? The human mind – reason – is man’s essential tool to understand reality, harness nature, sustain his life, and create a life worth living in society worthy of admiration. For Rand, this is a spiritual as well as material enterprise.

Her book quickly refutes the fallacies about the free market and it does so in concise, rigorous, but inviting manner. Many of the authors that I’ve list above have done the path-breaking analysis that is exploited by Rand and her colleagues in the economic essays. But for Rand, the economic arguments are a consequence and manifestation of the essential truth: capitalism respects the source of wealth creation and human greatness at its root.

Many free market advocates note the influence of her thought. Dr. Sciabarra, at New York University, starts with Rand and he has gone on to publish books on her life and work. So, too, has Dr. Machan, of the Hoover Institute. Indeed, some would say half of the libertarian movement started with Rand. But so did many conservatives. Her style may not be everyone’s cup of tea (my style is more restrained, measured, and less combative) but she knew what it took to get her agenda in the public debate. She has helped changed the course of American politics more than people are aware. Her book, Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, will give you a taste of the power of her ideas. And you won’t be apologizing for our great heritage ever again.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Lessons from the Red Decade

I have often argued that most on the conservative right are in denial about Islam. Ecumenical conservatives, in particular, believe religion is inherently good. This great religion, they say, has been hijacked by a few that do not represent Islam. Apparently, someone forgot to tell that to the Muslims: “Osama bin Laden … is viewed favorably by large percentages in Pakistan (65%), Jordan (55%) and Morocco (45%),” notes this survey done by the Pew Research Center. This is no surprise to anyone truely familiar with Islam. Dr. Mohamed Ibn Guadi, a researcher in Semitic Philology at Strasbourg University, explains that what bin Laden espouses is legitimate Islam. Apparently, it’s only Americans who believe his Islam isn’t legitimate.

The conservative denial of Islam’s threat reminds me of the left’s denial of the threat of communism during the Red Decade. Both the New Republic and the Nation in the 1930s believed that the Soviet Union was a noble experiment. Frank A. Warren, III, in his classic study, “Liberals and Communism: The ‘Red Decade’ Revisited,” covers the evolution of the left’s assessment of the USSR during the Great Depression.

During the 1920s there was considerable enthusiasm for the communist “experiment.” Even the most august of American philosophers, John Dewey, upon returning from a visit to the USSR, wrote apologetically. Warren notes: “Equally significant was Dewey’s conception of Russian society as an economic and cultural experiment – ‘the most interesting one going on upon our globe.’” John Dewey was quoted from his book, Impressions of Soviet Russia (L&C p.63 all page numbers are from the 1966 edition). “A new type of human nature was being created, Dewey said, cooperative instead of individualistic and selfish. A ‘collective mentality’ was replacing ‘the individualistic psychology.’” (p.64) Dewey and a few other moderate liberals came to their senses by the mid-1930s – however, they were the exceptions.

Oswald Garrison Villard … when he visited Russia in 1929, he had pronounced it ‘the greatest human experiment ever undertaken,” and like Dewey wished it well. … Although he disliked the dictatorial practices of the Russian rulers, he believed that, in contrast to Mussolini, they were selflessly working for the good of the masses.” (pp.68-69) Roger Baldwin “justified Russia’s repressions in terms of her revolutionary aims. Whereas violations of liberty would have been intolerable in the Western Democracies, they were ‘weapons of struggle’ in the transition to socialism in the Soviet Union.” (p. 64) In 1931, “Stuart Chase asserted that the Five-Year Plan had made the Russian world ‘exciting, stimulating, challenging,’ while for Americans the world was “dull and uninspired, wracked with frightful economic insecurity.” (p.66)

“When Sherwood Eddy called the Five-Year Plan the ‘boldest experiment in history,’ and when Bruce Bliven [of The New Republic] extolled Russian industrialization as ‘one of the most desperate ventures’ of all times, they were recording the dazzled feeling shared by the admirers of Russian planning.” … “Bliven and Soule … were ecstatic over collectivization … blamed the Ukrainian famine of 1933 on counterrevolutionaries. … for Anna Louise Strong, Stalin was always right – whether he was moving swiftly against the kulaks or ordering a slow-down. In her writings, collectivization became a great Soviet morality play of good triumphing over evil. [Maurice] Hindus had been so overwhelmed by the amazing feat of collectivization that, while he innately sympathized with the suffering of its victims, he was convinced of the long-run good of what was happening. … [P72] Force had been used, he admitted, and famine had occurred. But peaceful and voluntary methods would have delayed development for more than a decade. … Louis Fisher, with his cold, hard acceptance of power, ‘historical necessity,’ and the fait accompli, and Walter Duranty, who justified every maneuver by the ‘time-table of the revolution.’” (pp.70-72)

Had enough? No?

“George S. Counts described the ‘new man’ as ‘sturdy, confident, class-conscious, socially-sensitive and practical-minded.’ … the Five-year Plan had displaced man’s ‘I’ as ‘the center of things.’ The concept of the ‘new man’ was closely related to the belief that Russia had created new motives for individuals. In 1934 Sherwood Eddy reported the replacement of the old selfish profit motive by cooperative, creative, and humanitarian motives and incentives.” (p.73)

“The editors of The New Republic said that Soviet diplomacy, because it was ‘direct and [p75] honest,’ was ‘the best in the world.’ … The New Republic’s [view was that the] basic belief that a workers’ state was nonimperialist and nonaggressive because it had eliminated the principal cause of war under capitalism – the profit motive. Russia, the editors said, was ‘no longer an imperialist power,’ but the ‘world’s first communist state.’” (p.74) “The editors of The New Republic wrote: ‘Stalin is not and never has been a dictator in Russia, in the same sense in which a Mussolini … is a dictator.’” “Instead, there was a dictatorship of the Communist Party; Stalin, according to Davis and Bruce Bliven, could be deposed any time the Party was dissatisfied.” (p.77)

“Finally, the rough edges of the dictatorship were excused by a concentration on the future. Louis Fischer reported that the goal was to establish the first socialist democracy, and even Sherwood Eddy, who shabby criticized the dictatorship, could still speak of its democratic aims.” “Roger Baldwin claimed more liberties for the Russian people under the dictatorship than anywhere else in the world: the ‘fundamentals of liberty’ were established on economic grounds-‘the only ground on which liberty really matters.’" “… Walter Duranty stated that the Russian masses were not ready for independent self-government and that the dictatorship was acting as a ‘tutor and guardian’ while they prepared themselves for it.” (p.78)

“The editors of The New Republic were willing to temporize earlier. Bliven and Soule did not like the absence of civil liberties, but they refused to make any outright condemnation of Russian justice.” (p.81) “Stalin had been largely responsible for what they believed were the remarkable Russian achievements, they were predisposed to favor Stalin…” In Feb 1935, “… the editors of The New Republic clearly stated their position: civil liberties were not the only standard, ‘or even the major standard,’ for judging countries. They justified their double standard in regard to Germany and Russia by the ends in view: whereas Germany aimed at a perpetual autocracy, Russia’s goal was a classless society.” (p.189)

“… why so many were willing to overlook, or at least to tolerate, the terror and repression of the Communist regime. There was, of course, simply irrational, blind faith in the aims of the Revolution – much more prevalent in the fellow travelers than in the Russian sympathizers. An analysis of the more rational attitudes of the Russian sympathizers, however, reveals two specific reasons. The first was the tendency to regard Russia as an experiment (a tendency often sneered at by the Communists, who apparently believed her ‘proven’). Like Dewey in 1929, they were misled by their belief in pragmatism and instrumentalism. It was the resulting emphasis on the application of the scientific method to social problems that caused them ultimately to mistake mass control for social experimentation.” … “The very fact that they believed Russia to be an experiment removed them from the need to evaluate it. As an experiment it was not in its final state, but in the process of achieving it. Hence any ‘imperfections’ in the soviet system could not be criticized in the same way as in another system. Final judgment could be suspended until the experiment was over and the system, like any scientifically developed phenomenon, had been perfected.” (p.85-86)

“Harry F. Ward distinguished between the transitional ‘group’ dictatorship under Communism and the perpetual ‘personal’ dictatorship of the ruling class under Fascism.” “The New Republic editorialized simply: ‘Fascism constitutes an international danger, and Communism does not.’ The Nation summed the whole matter up: Fascism and Communism were as different as ‘night and day.’” (pp.112-113)

Then came Stalin’s Terror, the Purge, and the trumped up trials used to convict and kill his real and imagined enemies. “The veteran crusader for social justice, Upton Sinclair endorsed the trials and his opinions were duly printed.” (p.166) “In September 1938 [Maxwell S.] Stewart wrote in The Nation that the ‘average worker’ had been pleased by the purges for they had come ‘exclusively from below.’” (p.167) By this time John Dewey was the lead critic of Stalin’s repression. Had The New Republic and The Nation “been genuinely interested in discovering all possible evidence, they would have supported the Dewey-led investigation. Instead, despite their claim of “agnosticism,’ they actually sided with the Soviet government in their tendency to assume that the defendants were guilty of ‘something’ and therefore punishable. But to accuse Bliven and Soule and Freda Kirchwey of merely whitewashing the trials is to underestimate their differences with the Communists and fellow travelers.” “The Communists and fellow travelers ‘applauded’ the trials; The New Republic and The Nation ‘regretted’ them.” (p.178)

“On August 24, 1939, the Nazi-Soviet Pact was announced.” “The Communist line immediately changes from a support of collective security to a call for strict isolationism in America. The slogan of dictatorship versus democracy was replaced by a denunciation of the imperialist war. The pro-New Deal policy was discarded for opposition – the New Deal was the ‘War Party’ and the captive of the reactionaries.” (p.193)

Finally, left-liberals started to face the fact that Stalin wasn’t a very nice guy. However, it wasn’t communism that was the problem – just Stalin. In today’s terms, they would say he hijacked communism. “In answer to the Stalin-haters, they [TNR] asserted that, though Stalin was indeed a tyrant, Russia had made great economic and cultural advances. It was ‘absurd to identify 170,000,000 people with one man.’ Stalin would not live forever. Americans were urged to focus on American problems and not to think primarily of what was happening in Russia.” (p.208)

The author, Frank A. Warren, III, is a left-liberal and professor at Queens College in New York City. He is writing his book in response to Eugene Lyons’ The Red Decade. Apparently, he thinks Lyons has gone too far in his description of the left-liberal’s infatuation with communism. At the end of the book he gives the following summation: “The New Republic and The Nation did not ‘applaud,’ ‘bless,’ or even ‘approve’ the murders and liquidation in the same way as Soviet Russia Today. They rationalized them, apologized for them, and showed an amazing default of the moral imagination.” P225 “Liberals who were vaguely sympathetic toward socialism were influenced by Russia because they believed she was a socialist state. But for such liberals the precise theory of Communism mattered less than Russia’s ‘planned’ economy – planned, of course, for the people and not for the capitalists.”

Communism has led to the deaths of over 100 million. Yet even today, the left cannot face its guilt in supporting the most murderous regimes in human history. Now, what road was paved with good intensions?

This is why I believe we must understand Islam better than the current conservative and left-wing intellectuals. Our actions and inactions, no matter how well intentioned, may very well lead to the opposite of what we cherish. The blindness of the intellectuals of the 1920s and 1930s helped communism expand over half of Europe and Asia. Today, we are actively helping several Islamic countries – we sold F16s to Pakistan recently. We believe democracy will solve everything but democracy is only the hiring process of the chief civil servants. What they do with that power depends on their philosophy of a just society. Don’t assume it is the same as ours.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Witch-Hunt by the Left

The threat to freedom of speech – from the left – continues unabated in American universities. Prof. Tibor Machan observes: “Today, thinking it's the Right that's a threat to civil liberties is clearly wrong, what with political correctness guiding universities and other institutions in their hiring and promotion policies.”

Prof. Machan, himself has been the subject of a witch-hunt. His crime? Let him explain: “I criticized the Americans for Disabilities Act … no one’s generosity or good will ought ever to be compelled, coerced from the person or corporation.” The response? “... Indeed, a demand was launched that I be fired for my having published my views.”

Recently Prof. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, economist at the Univ. Of Nevada, has had to face the inquisition for suggesting the gays have a different lifestyle, which has economic implications. And let’s not forget, Laurence Summers, President of Harvard, who made the faux pax of suggesting the hypothesis that there is a genetic component involved in women’s success in math and sciences. Had Mr. Summers suggested there was a genetic component involved in homosexuality he would be welcomed with open arms. As a matter of fact, if he suggested anything else – the influence of environment or pure choice – he would have been figuratively strung up and hung. He apparently got his nature/nurture arguments confused.

Yes, there are intolerant people on the religious Right. However, intolerant people in the position of power, as leftists like to express it, seem overwhelmingly on the left.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The U.N. - why?

In a follow-up to my post where I charge that the U.N. encourages terrorist hate against America, Tom DeWeese, takes it a step further:

“The fact is the UN is not an instrument for guarding the peace. The UN is the source for international unrest and 'reform' will not fix it. … For the past fifty years, as the UN lived off the perception that it provided a forum where nations could air their differences off the battlefield, more wars were fought than ever before in human history. Instead of removing the threat to peace, the UN has encouraged, even nurtured, regimes that waged violence on their neighbors, and indeed, oppressed and tortured their own people. … The United Nations is not 'dysfunctional,' as some 'reformists' have claimed. It is a criminal enterprise in which no moral nation should ever participate, let alone perpetuate.”

Wow. Read it all.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Is it Sept 10th?

Michael Ledeen has written an alarming article in NRO suggesting that the administration has backed away from supporting the anti-clerical pro-democracy Persians in Iran. He believes the administration is turning its head instead of confronting the Terror Masters. He ends his article with: “We're back at September 10, waiting for our enemies to rouse us from our contented torpor.” Have we forgotten 9/11?

George W. Bush On Religion

Where does the President stand with regard to the role on religion in America? President Bush makes his position clear, in a recent press appearance:
“The role of religion in our society? I view religion as a personal matter. I think a person ought to be judged on how he or she lives his life, or lives her life. And that's how I've tried to live my life, through example. … I think faith is a personal issue, and I get great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me on religion. The great thing about America, David, is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want, and if you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship.”

Amen. This is the American way – freedom of religion – which sees faith as a private subjective matter. The solace one seeks in religion is personal, as the President says, not public. This is not to say that one should be ashamed of being openly religious as some might have it; that’s another form of intolerance. The classic American view, that Mr. Bush expresses above, holds that the imperatives of one’s religion, the demands of one’s faith, apply only to one’s own self so that you “should be allowed to worship any way you want, and if you choose not to …”

There is one problem, however. We are forced to pool our wealth together, via taxes, to support and sustain government schools. How do we decide what should be taught in those schools without denying each individual the right to live according to their own religion or philosophy? Some want these schools to be completely free of religion, even in history classes, while others, who have little wealth left after taxes, want those schools to teach ethics inline with their religious percepts – often at odds with the secular orientation of today’s schools. There is only one way to solve this problem that’s consistent with our heritage of individual rights: privatize education. Period! End tax-supported schools. Nothing else will end this acrimonious debate.

Unfortunately, we are taking steps in the wrong direction. With the President’s Faith Based Initiatives, Mr. Bush understandably seeks to restore the role of religious organizations in charitable work. Historically, they have played the major role before the welfare state and it is appropriate that they resume that worthy practice. However, already there are problems. I’ll let Mr. Bush explain it: “We ought to judge faith-based groups by results, not by their religion. And that's part of the cultural change that we're working on here. The bad news is, is that when it approved the funding, the city added a provision declaring that religious ceremonies are not to be conducted on the site initiated by the Salvation Army.”

Once again: if we are forced to pool our wealth together there will be a fight over the spoils. Obviously, we’ll want some of our hard-earned wealth back. And many people will want more than just the return of their own contributions (or else why was it pooled to begin with?) Thus, individual initiative and self-responsibility go by the wayside. What is left? A shameless grab for whatever one can get away with as one pushes the other aside.

There is only one real solution. We need to get the government out of the welfare business and allow private charities to tackle this problem on their own. This is not an idea that is easy for most to accept. Freedom means uncertainly and this is not always welcomed. We’ll need a cultural change over the long-term. But change starts by making people aware of the problem inherent in collective solutions. Let’s outline some near terms goals.

To keep religion out of government as many on the left demand, we need to take government out of education, welfare, the arts, and the humanities – as some of us on the right demand. Let’s do both! Let’s start on the federal level by eliminating the Department of Education, all education laws, all federal housing and federal welfare programs (aside from the long-standing commitment we’ve made to the elderly). Perhaps if the federal government focused on defense, instead of spreading itself thin, we just might be able to prevent 9/11 s.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

No Apology, No Future

Jack Wheeler, philosopher, adventurer, and aid to Ronald Reagan, in an article called “No Apology, No Future,” says the following:

After their defeat in World War II, the Germans apologized to the world for being Nazis and for the horrible atrocities Nazism committed. After their defeat in the Cold War, will the Russians ever apologize to the world for being Communists and the equally horrible atrocities Soviet Communism committed?” … It was only because the Germans went through a mea culpa emotional purge of the Nazi poison that they were able to create a prosperous free market democracy. The Russians will never be able to do the same until they can summon the moral courage to say to the world, “We’re sorry.”

Until Russians can take responsibility for their history and stop blaming everyone else for it, they can never overcome it. Until they can admit they created a monstrously evil tyranny, they can never create a morally decent society. Until they can stop yearning for past imperial glory, their former colonies will always hate them, and never trust them.

Let’s now apply this same standard to Islam: Muslims will never create a civilized society of liberal values nor become good international citizens until they apologize and take responsibility. They must apologize for creating a culture of suicide bombers that target innocent members of civilized countries. They must apologize for the support – before and after – for the 9/11 terrorists and the chief terrorist leader whom they still harbor. They must apologize for the 14 centuries of carnage inflicted by their supremacist warrior religion – Islam – which holds that some people are less than human and can be slaves, subjugated, or outright killed. They must apologize for creating a climate and culture of nihilistic hate, first subjecting their fellow citizens to its oppression and then subjecting others to violence along their “bloody boarders” and through out the world. I could go on but let me stop and ask:

Is anyone saying this?

No. And that’s the problem. We expect Muslims to just adopt democracy and vote in fair-minded governments without abandoning their past ideas and the religion that justifies atrocities. We expect Muslims to stop scapegoating Jews and America for their problems and act responsibly to create a productive society when they believe in a supremacist ideology founded by a warrior/prophet who slaughtered, plundered, conquered and oppressed.

And why should we believe Muslims can do what Russians can’t? Why do we expect Muslims to abandon their old ways when we refuse to criticize them, we don’t demand that they face their past inadequacies, and worse of all, our leaders praise the very religion that has kept they in poverty, ignorance, anger, and hell-on-earth?

This is going to be a long, long war.