Saturday, November 13, 2004
Learning the hardest way...
Fallujah residents, most of them now displaced by the fighting, said there were hundreds of non-Iraqi Arabs in town before the offensive began on Monday. However, they added, the ties of brotherhood had mostly unraveled and the remaining foreign fighters had tried to intimidate residents into staying as human shields.
A rebel-allied cleric who goes by the name Sheik Rafaa told Knight Ridder that Iraqi rebels were so infuriated by the disappearance of their foreign allies that one cell had "executed 20 Arab fighters because they left an area they promised to defend."
Other residents said foreign militants wore out their welcome months ago, when they imposed a Taliban-like interpretation of Islamic law that included public floggings for suspects accused of drinking alcohol or refusing to grow beards. Women who failed to cover their hair or remove their makeup were subjected to public humiliation. Those accused of spying for Americans were executed on the spot, residents said.
The turning point for a young man named Hudaifa came the day he saw a Yemeni fighter whipping an Iraqi in a public square. He recalled his humiliation this week in a conversation with other Fallujah residents now in Baghdad. Still fearful, the men asked that their last names not be published.
"An outsider beating an Iraqi in his own town?" Hudaifa asked, outrage still in his voice. "It's such a shame for us.
This happened in Afghanistan. This happened in Shite fashion in Najaf and in Iran. Society becomes a dystopia, a hell on earth than mankind seems to like to do from time to time.
How many people have to learn the lesson before they stop letting it happen?
hat tip to Blogs for Bush
People who are deeply religious fashion their lives, not just their messages, in certain ways, according to deeply held convictions. Religion isn't a political strategy; it's a belief system that guides one's lifestyle.
As this discussion evolves, I keep associating to that memorable scene from "When Harry Met Sally" when Meg Ryan, sitting in a deli, convincingly fakes That Very Special Moment to prove that women can and do fake their lovemaking satisfaction. Co-star Billy Crystal is duly impressed, as is an older woman sitting nearby, who tells her waitress: "I'll have what she's having."
The Democrats apparently have decided they'll have what Bush has been having. I half expect to see aspiring Democratic presidential candidates showing up at Promise Keepers conventions, high-fiving for Jesus, and photo-oping with little Baptist blue-hairs on their way to Wednesday-night prayer meeting.
Of all the things one can pretend in order to win a voter's confidence, religious devotion seems the least likely. Moreover, until the Democratic Party's policy positions reflect beliefs consistent with the values held by American's religious moderates and traditionalists, their newly fashioned messages are going to sound like what they are. Faked.
You can't just suddenly start carrying around a Bible and expect to convince people you're a believer. It is also dangerous to invoke the Bible if you're not that familiar with it, as Howard Dean proved when he expressed his admiration for the book of Job, which he erroneously placed in the New Testament.
If you like Job, you know where it is.
Being religious clearly doesn't hurt a political candidate, but keeping it real is critical. As Barack Obama, the newly elected U.S. senator from Illinois, said in the current issue of Time magazine, Americans hunger for authenticity. Kerry's defeat had as much to do with his perceived lack of authenticity as with the "God Gulf." He simply never rang true.
Consistancy of belief. Christians as a group in this country believe that abortion is murder, the family is instituted by God as the relationship between a man and a woman, and that liberty does not equal self-indulgence. If you have to believe in gay marriage as fair and abortion is an unshakable right, then you are going to have trouble convincing them of the worthiness or the honesty of your viewpoint. This is one of the reasons that active Catholics voted more for Bush than Kerry. Every time he took communion he lost Catholic votes. Every time he took communion in a non-Catholic church (another Catholic no-no) he lost Catholic votes. A lot pf people read it as "a man who would diss some of the most sacred things of his own faith was someone who had a center that was not faithful, and therefore untrustworthy."
If you can step away from all the political hate talk, and actually look at what Bush does, you will see a nice guy who tries to live the tenets of his faith seriously. Practicing serious Christians know one of our own.
The left seems to devote considerable energy to devising new and ingenuous way to outrage, horrify, aggravate and otherwise annoy anyone who takes the Bible seriously.
Exhibit A is a 51-page study (“Beyond the Pledge of Allegiance: Hostility to Religious Expression in the Public Square”) compiled by the Liberty Legal Institute of Plano, Texas and presented to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights In October.
According to the subcommittee’s chairman, Sen. John Cornyn (R, Texas): “The campaign to purge expressions of faith from the public square is pervasive, national and well organized. The report not only contains page after page and example after example of hostility to religious expression, it also notes how this effort to cleanse the public square of all religious expressions is carefully orchestrated and organized by some of the nation’s leading liberal special interests.” All of which are aligned with the Democratic Party.
Here are a few of the outrages documented in the pages of the report.
In St. Louis, Missouri, a 12-year-old student was reprimanded for praying over his lunch.
A public-school teacher in Houston punished two sisters for bringing bibles to class, confiscated the bibles and threw them in the trash and threatened to report their parents to the state’s Child Protective Services. At the same school, another student was forbidden to read a bible in his free time and forced to remove a Ten Commandments dustcover from a textbook.
Public high school students in Lynn, Massachusetts were suspended for distributing candy canes with Bible verses attached.
At a New Jersey veterans’ cemetery, a member of an honor guard, and a Vietnam vet, was fired for saying “God bless you and this family” to the family of a deceased veteran.
In Logan County, Kentucky, a public library worker was fired for refusing to remove a cross-pendant necklace. She was later reinstated, by court order.
Among the chief culprits in this religious-cleansing campaign, the report names the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way (PAW) and Americans United for the (so-called) Separation of Church and State.
Now, let’s see: which of the two major parties is more closely identified with the anti-God jihad? Who’s more likely to keynote the ACLU’s annual dinner, Rush Limbaugh or Bill Maher? This is an open-book exam, but the score will count toward your final grade.
The following is a sampling of postings on the PAW website : “Bush’s Judicial Threats,” “The Bush Administration vs. The Constitution,” “Bush’s Statement on Judges Demonstrates ‘Orwellian’ Doublespeak,” “Bush’s Tax and Budget Plans: Radical and Irresponsible,” and a fawning review of David Corn’s “The Lies of George Bush.” Despite the liberal assessment of their intelligence, Christians can connect the dots between assaults on the president and attacks on them.
Hollywood rarely misses a chance to ridicule Christians or denigrate their faith. The pathetic comedy “Saved,” just released on video and DVD – which is set in a Christian academy and makes religious kids look like Nazi nincompoops – is the most recent example of Hollywood’s contempt for Christians and their values.
But when devout Catholic Mel Gibson made a movie celebrating his faith (“The Passion”), both the producer and his work were subjected to withering attacks – including charges of anti-Semitism -- by critics and commentators.
The news media’s disdain for orthodox Christians was illustrated by a throw-away line in a front-page story in The Washington Post a decade ago. Reporter Michael Weisskopf contemptuously characterized conservative Christians as, “poor, uneducated and easy to command.” This is an ugly stereotype, akin to saying that poor, ignorant darkies like to tap-dance while eating fried chicken.
Said condescension was manifested again in the 2000 presidential election, when the president named Jesus as his favorite philosopher. You could hear the media guffaws – from the newsroom of The New York Times to the editorial department of The L.A. Times.
Senate Democrats have launched unprecedented filibusters to block Bush’s judicial nominations. Federal judges are overwhelmingly liberal (activist and elitist) and Democrats are determined to keep them that way.
The judiciary has led the frontal assault on faith.
Since 1963, it’s banished prayer from the public schools, rejected a moment of silent meditation (lest someone be encouraged to meditate on God), outlawed non-denominational prayers at graduation ceremonies and student-initiated prayers at football games, prohibited posting The Ten Commandments on school bulletin boards, ordered removal of Ten Commandments monuments, and come close to taking God out of the Pledge of Allegiance (required by the 9th. Circuit Appeals Court, reversed by the Supreme Court, on technical grounds).
At the same time, the Supreme Court or lower federal courts have struck down anti-sodomy laws and the most modest restraints on abortion, including parental-notification (again, in some jurisdictions) and attempts to ban partial-birth abortion. In Kerry country, the judiciary mandated homosexual marriage.
The courts are telling Christians: While we will not permit even symbolic affirmations of your faith, we have every right to force our faith on you.
In Academia, Christians are besieged. At least a dozen colleges and universities have withdrawn recognition of Christian clubs, for violating the school’s non-discrimination code, by refusing to admit homosexuals and non-Christians as members – notwithstanding that to do so would violate the basic tenets of their faith.
From start to finish, the war on Christianity is a blue-country operation. It is relentlessly waged by the Democrats’ core constituencies: the entertainment industry, journalists, the public education establishment (every four years, the endorsement of the Democratic nominee by the National Education Association is a pro forma matter), college administrators and the courts.
Christians would have to be masochistic not to revolt against this constant abuse, and totally lacking in discernment not to see it all leading to a nation where faith is marginalized, humanistic values are enshrined in government and the culture, and hate-crimes laws are used to punish dissent.
The truth that the left doesn't want to hear is that most of us looked at secularism, and rejected it. Most of us resent being forced to live like functional atheists to keep a few people happy. And in a land where democracy rules, and the government is of the people and by the people, instead of the European model, the people for the government, these shifts happen.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Culture wars - Moral majority politics comes to Great Britain
The schoolgirl talks eloquently about how she attends the Christian Union at her school, doesn't believe it is "right" to have sex before marriage, and regards the family unit as a sacred ideal. Is this teenager a hick who attends a creationist school in the Kansas plains? No, she is a middle-class, metropolitan student at St Paul's Girls' School in west London - for generations the top choice of the fee-paying chattering classes.
The young Muslim man sits in the canteen at work and confides that he is not going to continue voting for Labour politicians who allow the media to show sex and violence on the telly and his teenage daughter to get the morning-after pill over the counter, but won't allow her to wear a veil because it conflicts with her school uniform. This Muslim is not sitting in the backstreets of Beirut. He works for the BBC and lives in north London.
In the aftermath of the US elections, the chattering classes in Britain have portrayed the moral majority in America as the peculiar aberration of a raw, uncivilised culture. The religious right that swept George W Bush to victory is, they insist, a phenomenon that doesn't travel beyond American shores.
Wrong. It's an important presence here already, as is the Muslim conservatism that Asian and Arab communities have been slowly but surely unpacking in Europe, and in Britain in particular.
A week before Americans re-elected their God-fearing president, the president of the European Commission was forced to withdraw his entire team of commissioners when Rocco Buttiglione, a Catholic candidate, condemned homosexuality as sinful and single mothers as "a bad thing". On the same day as the US election, a Muslim with dual Moroccan/Dutch nationality killed the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh for having made a "blasphemous" film about women and Islam. And Peter Vardy, a Christian evangelical entrepreneur, last month lost a battle to take over a school in Doncaster and turn it into a city academy that would tell children that creationism - the belief that God literally created the world in six days - is a theory on a par with Darwinism (see Francis Beckett's report last week).
The politicisation of religious groups that has taken place across the Atlantic and been given impetus by the presidency of the born-again Bush may not yet find a direct parallel here; Europe offers no equivalent to the Christian right in terms of numbers of votes, or influence. Yet between conservative Catholics, the expanding Muslim community and growing numbers of evangelical Protestants, an alliance is being forged. Its aim is to protect a faith-based value system against the encroaching secularism of the west. The difficulty is that, just as the religious right believe wholeheartedly that theirs is the one true way, secularists are adamant about their beliefs and intolerant of those who do not share them. The ensuing clash of cultures will spill over into the political arena and change government policies for ever.
In a post-communist world, where the market is accepted by all, conventional political divisions over taxes, government spending and big business are giving way to more deeply felt differences on issues such as when life begins, the make-up of the family unit and the boundaries of medical science. Adrian Woolridge, US correspondent of the Economist and co-author of The Right Nation, sees Britain progressing from the class politics of the trade unions, through the managerial politics of the Blair-Brown era, "to arguments about the sort of people we are and what we value. Profound issues, in short, are coming back to the centre stage of politics."
Such issues, touching on questions of identity and allegiance, generate feverish emotions. The row over Buttiglione was furious and claimed the professional scalps of two proposed commissioners; the row over Theo van Gogh's film on Islam claimed his life. Although very few moral conservatives would sanction murder (even in America, with its killings of abortionists, such events are rare), they feel that their anger is warranted. They have witnessed what they see as the liberal elite allow abortion at 28 weeks and permit the sale of the morning-after pill over the counter; they have listened to plans to legalise gay marriage and euthanasia.
In their view, the pervasiveness of the west's secularist fervour goes beyond legislation. The moral traditionalists have watched every marketing outlet from television to billboards push their children into a precocious sexualisation; they have heard of endless books, magazines and lifestyle gurus instructing their women to go out and work and establish themselves as equal to men. And they have listened to councillors and local authorities tell them that Christmas cannot be celebrated as a holy holiday in public institutions, and that their daughters may not wear the hijab at school.
They've had enough.
They want, now, to voice their grievances and redress perceived wrongs by voting out godless politicians and voting in representatives who will draft and change policies in accordance with their traditionalist values. In this campaign, Muslims and Christians - in particular the increasing number of born-again evangelicals - have found common cause.
"There is an informal coalition between people of faith and people who are looking for some kind of value framework," agrees the Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens. "People of different faiths can coalesce around a number of freedoms which we believe make for human flourishing. We can coalesce around the notion of freedom from poverty, fear, injustice - and, too, from consumerism. We are looking for some way of assigning value to human beings that is more than their place in the market."
In Warwickshire, Nuala Scarisbrick, administrator of Life, the anti-abortion charity, finds "a marked sea change in the past few years. Our volunteers and paid staff, once predominantly Christian, are today members of every religious group, from Islam to Hinduism and even Buddhism. They believe, just as Christians do, that one of the fundamental principles in their ethics is the right to life, and are prepared to fight for the right of the unborn."
Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, agrees: "More devout Muslims will want to see the government take a stronger line on abortion - rather than as things are right now, which leave it to the individual MP's conscience. Similarly with gay marriages. Even mainstream Muslims draw a line at gay marriages. They want government to support the family unit."
A "pro-life" stance is a litmus test for religious conservatives; abortion is also the issue that gave them their first important victory, with the limit at which a legal abortion can be obtained being reduced from 28 weeks to 24. Indeed, following the publication this summer of photographs of a 12-week foetus, many politicians, including Lord Steel, who drafted the original abortion law, were moved to talk of further reducing the limit for a legal abortion.
Secularists, worried about such hints of religious retrenchment, are determined to hit back. They have, argues Richard Appignanesi, author of Introducing Existentialism, "found a fundamentalism of their own - political correctness". From banning religious messages on Christmas cards through talking of partners instead of spouses and then, more recently, calling for St Mary Magdalene school in Islington to change its name, which was deemed "divisive" in a multicultural society, the "thought police" have produced what Appignanesi calls "the slam-ming door of the liberal mind". Secularists, he believes, show as much of an interest in indoctrination as the religious groups they hate so much.
The liberal chattering classes find themselves at loggerheads with an ever more self-confident and vociferous constitu-ency today. Following 11 September 2001 and the introduction in the UK of anti-terrorism legislation regarded as targeting their community, British Muslims have become far more conscious of their rights and far more vocal about their demands. "The first real clash of cultures between Muslims and the liberal secular values took place with the Rushdie affair," says Ziauddin Sardar, the Muslim commentator and author of Desperately Seeking Paradise. "That saw Muslims becoming vocal. Then after 11 September they became more assertive as well. They began seeking and winning access to the corridors of power, they managed to get the proposed Religious Discrimination Act on the government agenda; and the Muslim Council of Britain sent a delegation of two to deal with Kenneth Bigley's kidnappers in Iraq."
Authority can be a function of raw power, but among free people it is sustained by esteem and trust. Should esteem and trust falter, the public will start to contest an institution's authority. It happens all the time to political figures. It happened here to the American Catholic Church and to the legal profession, thanks to plaintiff-bar abuse. And now the public is beginning to contest the decades-old authority of the mainstream media.
Two months ago, Gallup reported that public belief in the media's ability to report news accurately and fairly had fallen to 44%--what Gallup called a significant drop from 54% just a year ago. The larger media outlets have been pushing the edge of the partisanship envelope for a long time. People have kvetched about "spin" for years but then largely internalized it. Not in 2004. Big Media chose precisely the wrong moment to give itself over to an apparent compulsion to overthrow the Bush presidency.
This was the election that brought the reality of the Information Age to politics, not just the promise. Most of us, but especially voters in battleground states like Ohio and Florida, were engulfed with political inputs. TV commercials, canned phone calls, Internet ads, Web logs, partisan 527s, talk radio and of course cable news.
A survey by the Pew Research Center reports that over three years from January 2000, the percentage of people getting candidate and campaign news fell 9% for daily newspapers, 10% for network news and 5% for news magazines. The numbers rose, up to 4%, for cable news, the Internet and comedy TV shows (Jon Stewart's rise as a news authority figure is the court jester displacing the journalistic monarchy).
In a post-2004 election report, Pew and the University of Michigan jointly note that this past summer, 40% of Internet users pulled down political information, a significant increase over the 2000 election. And not merely, as is often assumed, to ride with their own political posses. "Wired Americans are more aware than non-Internet users of all kinds of arguments," Pew concluded, "even those that challenge their preferred candidates and issue positions."
The genie will not go back into the bottle. It will be interesting to see what it's like living in a country where all or most of the news sources are clearly partisan. But on the other hand, it's probably a more honest place to be! And now, the MSM, who felt it was a fourth unofficial branch of the checks and balances now has its own branch of checks and balances checking it.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
1. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by:
a. Olga Corbitt
b. Sitting Bull
c. Arnold Schwartzeneger
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
2. In 1979, the U.S. embassy in Iran was taken over by:
a. Lost Norwegians
c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
3. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:
a. John Dillinger
b. The King of Sweden
c. The Boy Scouts
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
4. In 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:
a. A pizza delivery boy
b. Pee Wee Herman
c. Geraldo Rivera
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
5. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70-year old, American passenger, wheel-chair, bound was thrown overboard into the ocean to drown by:
a. The Smurfs
b. Davy Jones
c. The Little Mermaid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
6. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a U.S. Navy diver was murdered by:
a. Captain Kid
b. Charles Lindberg
c. Mother Teresa
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
7. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:
a. Scooby Doo
b. The Tooth Fairy
c. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
8. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:
a. Richard Simmons
b. Grandma Moses
c. Michael Jordan
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
9. In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:
a. Mr. Rogers
b. Hillary, to distract attention from Bill's women problems
c. The World Wrestling Federation
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
10. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked and destroyed and thousands of people were killed by:
a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
b. The Supreme Court of Florida
c. Mr. Bean and some wacky friends
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
11. In 2002 the United States began a war in Afghanistan against:
b. The Lutheran Church
c. The NFL
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
12. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:
a. Bonny and Clyde
b. Captain Kangaroo
c. Dick C. and Dubya
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
When this is the reality, guess how people start to behave to Moslem men who are perfectly law abiding and respectable? As long as Moslems see these people as cultural heros, and don't denounce them, then they are asking for the equation moslem = terrorist to become fixed in the public mind and allow statements like this:
moslem radicals do terrorist activities
moslem hardliners support the radicals
moslem moderates give money to the hardliners
therefore, all moslems are evil
to seem to be true. And the end result will be a continuation of violence. And who knows what the next level will go to.
False Consensus, Group Polarization and Why Academe Is Sometimes Self-Deluding and Out of Touch
The dangers of aligning liberalism with higher thought are obvious. When a Duke University philosophy professor implied last February that conservatives tend toward stupidity, he confirmed the public opinion of academics as a self-regarding elite -- regardless of whether or not he was joking, as he later said that he was. When laymen scan course syllabi or search the shelves of college bookstores and find only a few volumes of traditionalist argument amid the thickets of leftist critique, they wonder whether students ever enjoy a fruitful encounter with conservative thought. When a conference panel is convened or a collection is published on a controversial subject, and all the participants and contributors stand on one side of the issue, the tendentiousness is striking to everyone except those involved. The False Consensus does its work, but has an opposite effect. Instead of uniting academics with a broader public, it isolates them as a ritualized club.
The final social pattern is the Law of Group Polarization. That lawas Cass R. Sunstein, a professor of political science and of jurisprudence at the University of Chicago, has describedpredicts that when like-minded people deliberate as an organized group, the general opinion shifts toward extreme versions of their common beliefs. In a product-liability trial, for example, if nine jurors believe the manufacturer is somewhat guilty and three believe it is entirely guilty, the latter will draw the former toward a larger award than the nine would allow on their own. If people who object in varying degrees to the war in Iraq convene to debate methods of protest, all will emerge from the discussion more resolved against the war.
Group Polarization happens so smoothly on campuses that those involved lose all sense of the range of legitimate opinion. A librarian at Ohio State University who announces, "White Americans pay too little attention to the benefits their skin color gives them, and opening their eyes to their privileged status is a valid part of a college education" (The Chronicle, August 6) seems to have no idea how extreme his vision sounds to many ears. Deliberations among groups are just as prone to tone deafness. The annual resolutions of the Modern Language Association's Delegate Assembly, for example, ring with indignation over practices that enjoy popular acceptance. Last year, charging that in wartime, governments use language to "misrepresent policies" and "stigmatize dissent," one resolution urged faculty members to conduct "critical analysis of war talk ... as appropriate, in classrooms." However high-minded the delegates felt as they tallied the vote, which passed 122 to 8 without discussion, to outsiders the resolution seemed merely a license for more proselytizing.
The problem is that the simple trappings of deliberation make academics think that they've reached an opinion through reasoned debate -- instead of, in part, through an irrational social dynamic. The opinion takes on the status of a norm. Extreme views appear to be logical extensions of principles that everyone more or less shares, and extremists gain a larger influence than their numbers merit. If participants left the enclave, their beliefs would moderate, and they would be more open to the beliefs of others. But with the conferences, quarterlies, and committee meetings suffused with extreme positions, they're stuck with abiding by the convictions of their most passionate brethren.
As things stand, such behaviors shift in a left direction, but they could just as well move right if conservatives had the extent of control that liberals do now. The phenomenon that I have described is not so much a political matter as a social dynamic; any political position that dominates an institution without dissent deterioriates into smugness, complacency, and blindness. The solution is an intellectual climate in which the worst tendencies of group psychology are neutralized.
That doesn't mean establishing affirmative action for conservative scholars or encouraging greater market forces in education -- which violate conservative values as much as they do liberal values. Rather, it calls for academics to recognize that a one-party campus is bad for the intellectual health of everyone. Groupthink is an anti-intellectual condition, ironically seductive in that the more one feels at ease with compatriots, the more one's mind narrows. The great liberal John Stuart Mill identified its insulating effect as a failure of imagination: "They have never thrown themselves into the mental condition of those who think differently from them." With adversaries so few and opposing ideas so disposable, a reverse advantage sets in. The majority expands its power throughout the institution, but its thinking grows routine and parochial. The minority is excluded, but its thinking is tested and toughened. Being the lone dissenter in a colloquy, one learns to acquire sure facts, crisp arguments, and a thick skin.
But we can't open the university to conservative ideas and persons by outside command. That would poison the atmosphere and jeopardize the ideals of free inquiry. Leftist bias evolved within the protocols of academic practice (though not without intimidation), and conservative challenges should evolve in the same way. There are no administrative or professional reasons to bring conservatism into academe, to be sure, but there are good intellectual and social reasons for doing so.
Those reasons are, in brief: One, a wider spectrum of opinion accords with the claims of diversity. Two, facing real antagonists strengthens one's own position. Three, to earn a public role in American society, professors must engage the full range of public opinion.
Finally, to create a livelier climate on the campus, professors must end the routine setups that pass for dialogue. Panels on issues like Iraq, racism, imperialism, and terrorism that stack the dais provide lots of passion, but little excitement. Syllabi that include the same roster of voices make learning ever more desultory. Add a few rightists, and the debate picks up. Perhaps that is the most persuasive internal case for infusing conservatism into academic discourse and activities. Without genuine dissent in the classroom and the committee room, academic life is simply boring.
Really dealing with the problem
Europe risks becoming a breeding ground for Islamic extremism and the problem has to be dealt with urgently, a Dutch official said yesterday.
"In all of Europe, young people are becoming more radical," said Justice Minister Rita Verdonk, whose country holds the presidency of the European Union. She was speaking at an EU conference on immigration and integration being held in this northern Dutch city.
But at the same time, they may have to do some rethinking about how to deal with it.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who visited a primary school destroyed by fire Tuesday, told parliament that he would work with organizations representing the almost 1 million Muslims who make up nearly 6 percent of the population.The problem comes when you are dealing with people who don't agree with your right to freedom of religion and speech.
"We must not allow ourselves to be swept away in a maelstrom of violence," he said. "Free expression of opinion, freedom of religion and other basic rights are the foundation stones of our state and our democracy. They are valid for everybody, always."
Mrs. Verdonk said "Europe must not become a breeding ground for Islamic terrorism.
But the problem is, Europe has already become that. Now the real question is how do you deal with that? France is busily trying to assimilate by using state sponsored services like schools and medical services be absolutely secular, which IMHO feeds the fire, and interferes with some basic freedoms. The Dutch method has been to sponsor religious schools for all faiths, not trying to assimilate people fully, but perhaps trying to create a broader culture that these pockets of ethnic culture fit in.
Will either approach work? All over western Europe, there are gangs of Moroccan youths, often allied with or already radicalized, making life miserable for others.
The question is will people be able to step out of their ideologies enough to reevaluate things as they really are? Time will tell.
Source: Washington Times
More on the Action in the Netherlands Yesterday
In the hours before dawn yesterday, hundreds of Dutch police stormed an apartment building in a poor immigrant neighbourhood in The Hague where an Islamist cell was believed to be hiding. They fought a pitched gun battle for hours with the suspects, one of whom yelled at one point, "I am going to behead you."
The group exploded at least one booby-trap bomb in the building. A hand grenade was also thrown from the building at police, three of whom were injured, one very seriously.
At least two people were arrested, one of them after being shot in the shoulder, and a third person was arrested in a related action in the city of Utrecht, police said. Theneighbourhood was cordoned off, its buildings were evacuated and airplanes were forbidden to fly over The Hague for much of yesterday.
As the battle raged, a small riot took place outside the building between white protesters and North African youths.
This week, the Netherlands' entire Muslim community, almost a million people or 6 per cent of the population, seemed to be blamed for the killing of Mr. van Gogh.
On Monday night, a Muslim school was bombed, and another school was burned to the ground on Tuesday.
But the protesters who filled the streets of Dutch cities yesterday did not generally come from the country's extreme right.
Most of them described themselves as leftists, liberals or social democrats, who have turned against Muslims because of their conservative values.
"Keep in mind that there is some real tension here: The Netherlands are a highly secularized, perhaps even anti-religious and progressive society, and the large majority of the immigrants are religious and conservative," said Boris Slijper, a specialist in cultural conflict at the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies in Amsterdam.
He said that most of the protesters are left-leaning advocates of immigration who are angered by the conservatism and intolerance of some Muslims.
A survey printed yesterday in the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad found that a "large majority" of Dutch citizens feel that their country has changed permanently since the killing of Mr. van Gogh.
Some newspapers and commentators have dubbed his death "the 2/11 killing," echoing the U.S. nomenclature for Sept. 11, 2001.
At a European Union gathering in northern the Netherlands.
Dutch Justice Minister Rita Verdonk argued that the killings and reprisals resulted from immigration policies that had not been sufficiently selective.
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
(Shakespeare, Henry V)
Today, let us remember and give thanks
for those who made it possible.
In my family, I would remember
that before we were a nation,
there was Mouns,
and others whose deeds did not get recorded,
shaping a new home in the wilderness,
then John and Mark, Joshua and George and James and Edward
who fought to free us from England,
Henry and another Edward
who fought them the second time around,
And any others whose names were lost.
Later, when blood between brothers grew cold,
there was Gilbert, and Hugh, and William and Solomon,
Francis, John, Hiram,
The McCarley boys, the Byars cousins and others,
some who lived to tell the tale and some who didn't,
who witnessed what happened with brothers hate.
There was George who fought in Cuba,
And then when Europe called,
Jesse went, and others, too -
William answered the call, and spilled blood at St. Etienne,
saving his soldiers while wounded,
including the man who was the brother
of his wife to be, Earl.
Later his son would serve once again
when the trumpet of war sounded,
and one of his cousins bled and died
on the beaches at Normandy.
Julian too, answered the call,
and saw Europe through,
and Korea and Vietnam.
To him add Dale and Jack and Warren and Byron,
This is how our country was shaped,
by those who rose to answer the call,
for whatever the reason.
Let us never forget their sacrifice.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Blue New England Keeps Pocket Closed When It Comes to Charity
HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut ranks first when it comes to making money - but joins New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island at the bottom of an annual index of charitable giving.
The Catalogue for Philanthropy's 2004 Generosity Index showed Mississippi, for the eighth straight year, as the nation's most giving state. It was followed by Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee.
The survey is based on residents' average adjusted income and itemized charitable donations reported on 2002 federal tax returns, the latest year available.
The index does not take into account non-itemized giving or volunteering, said Carol Schofield of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy.
Connecticut has the nation's highest average adjusted gross income, at $64,724; its residents donate $175 less to charity than the national average of $3,455. That ranks Connecticut 44th on the index, a slip of seven places from last year.
Connecticut was followed by Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and, at No. 50 on the index, New Hampshire.
Among the top givers, rounding out spots seven through 10 were South Dakota, Utah, South Carolina and Idaho.
The latest index reflects a country still coping with an economic slump - the national average gross income in 2002 dropped nearly 2.4 percent to $45,953. Despite the drop in income, the average individual donation fell less than 1 percent.
Exceptions to the trend were found in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, where the decline in giving exceeded the decline in income.
Mississippi - the poorest state in the nation - consistently earns its place as No. 1 on the list by generating the greatest disparity in income and charitable contributions.
The average itemized filer in Mississippi reported $4,484 in donations in 2002. That beats the national average by $1,029.
The Massachusetts-based Catalogue for Philanthropy publishes a directory of nonprofit organizations. It created the index seven years ago
The Death of Van Gogh and a New Netherlands Reality
Since the murder, absolutely and clearly a murder based on a perceived insult to Islam by a man who made a career of satirizing people's beliefs, there has been large numbers of protests both from moderate Muslim groups repudiating the behavior, non-muslim groups and right-wing groups. There have been acts of violence against Moslem schools and mosques, and fires set to churches. Today, some policemen were injured by a grenade.
The WSJ opines:
Some of this is the result of being a good host:
...Partly motivated by an understandable desire not to inadvertently fuel xenophobia, Europe's elites have for too long played down the problems posed by radical elements within Europe's large Muslim community. Even as Muslim demonstrators called for the death of Jews right in the streets of Amsterdam, Paris and elsewhere, the public hardly took notice.<>One might argue that this is the price a liberal society has to pay for its freedom: tolerance of the intolerable. But in Europe, tolerance is selective. Most countries have tough laws against hate speech and neo-Nazis are arrested for similar offenses. The police detained about 20 people in The Hague for chanting nationalist and anti-Muslim slurs after Mr. van Gogh's murder....
Europe's Muslim leaders are guilty of silence. Muslim groups in France organized thousands to protest the law against wearing headscarves in schools. No such demonstrations on a comparable scale have taken place in France, or elsewhere in the world for that matter, to condemn Islamic terror. Muslims who oppose terror and embrace liberal values have to stand up and be counted. At the same time, Europe needs to stop rationalizing the irrational hatred that possesses Islamic terrorists. Islamic terror is not the result of some "failed integration policy" or of some real or imagined Muslim grievance supposedly caused by U.S. Middle East policy. It is fueled by a totalitarian ideology that seeks world domination and the subjugation of infidels and the West. The sooner Europe comes to terms with this truth the sooner it will begin to combat the fanaticism that claimed the life of Mr. van Gogh
Islamists of the Algerian AIM, HAMAS, and other radical organizations have operated freely, especially in Rotterdam and Eindhoven. Ayman al-Zawahiri is known to travel on a Dutch passport. The Islamist Al Muwafaq foundation was active in Breda, in southern Holland, and the operation's leaders included at least two members placed on the US Department of Treasury hit list of radical Islamists. In 1998 the Dutch BVD (intelligence agency) linked the Al Waqf Al Islami foundation active in Holland to exteme Islam and terrorist movements. In Eindhoven the foundation used the notorious Al Furqan mosque to collect for Al Qaeda and desseminate Wahhabi propaganda. Al Furqan was a home away from home for at least six members of the 9/11 terrorist group that attacked the USA.
Source: FR discussion
But the reality is here: there is a growing movement of radicalized young moslems across western Europe, young people who choose not to be assimilated as good Europeans, but who have chosen the way of radical Islam. Many people see it, and the outrage felt in the Netherlands, similar to the feeling in the US after 9/11, did not come out of the blue!
In Belgium, they just outlawed an anti-Immigration political party on grounds that it was racist (this also gets in to the perpetual war between the French and the Walloons), but legislating against it won't change the reality that many people feel that the wolf is at the door.
What has to happen next?
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Which rights are people wanting?
Last year the pro-abortion Center for Gender Equity published a survey of women showing the startling result that, of all the "top priority" issues for the women's movement, "keeping abortion legal" ranked dead last. The survey also showed that a majority of women -- 51 percent -- believe that abortion should never be permitted, or permitted only in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment (2 percent of abortions yearly).
More good news comes from the recent Pace University/Rock the Vote poll. "Rock the Vote" was launched by MTV in 1992 to get young people to register to vote. And where do these super-hip-MTV-rock-the-voters stand on abortion? According to their own poll, 54% of them are pro-life.
It shouldn't have surprised us that "moral values" came first.
Source, Cathy Cleaver Ruse, via FR
An Example of How Some, Without Thinking, Work to Destroy Western Culture
Glenn Sacks, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, urged his listeners to call Verizon, after learning about a TV ad that shows a father trying, but failing, to help his young daughter with her homework.
The daughter, annoyed by her father, looks to her mother for intervention. The mother tells the father to go wash the dog, orders him to leave the daughter alone, and then yells at him when he is slow to comply, Sacks said.
Sacks told listeners that he "doesn't think Verizon means any harm." But he said it appears that the company - like some others -- has developed a "moral blind spot towards disparaging males."
According to Sacks, "Research shows how indispensable fathers are to their children's well-being....it is tremendously damaging to convince kids that their father is an idiot or that fathers are worthless."
Sacks said he initiated the "call-Verizon" campaign after being contacted by a Texas grandmother who said she had been rebuffed by Verizon when she complained about the ad.
"Our culture should be long past portraying men, and particularly fathers, as fools a la Homer Simpson, said Michael McCormick, executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.
Demographics, families and survival
Perhaps, there should be cultural Darwin awards for cultural movements that get so involved with other things that they fail to do those things that keep people happy and in sufficient numbers around. This has happened more than once in history, and the result has usually been replacement by another group, or conquest or civil war. Never a pretty picture.
It is wise to remember that the basis of human social organization is the family, first the nuclear group that comes together to pass down the goods and folkways from one generation to the next, and then the extended family, the clan, the kinship group that helps its relatives by being a support group and a way of identifying one's place in the world.
Societies that screw around with this usually get replaced by groups that understand it better.
Western Europe is below replacement levels. England has decided to discard the real family and has nearly half of its children born out of wedlock and in unstable relationships. Replacement is knocking at the door, mostly in the form of Islamic immigrants that are having babies in enough number to take over the land, if not the culture of the people who are too selfish to give themselves a future.
In America, this last election might be the first ringing of the demographics bell. Many people who would have been there once upon a time, voting for the democrats (who should have been there as children of those who feel this way) didn't exist - aborted, birthcontroled out of being.
Asia Times has a good piece about what this might mean to the US:
A correspondent in New York reports that one of the local magazines proclaims that city "the one-child-family capital of the United States". That illustrates why the influence of American metropole will continue to fall.
The demographic shift in favor of "red" (Republican) versus "blue" (Democratic) states helped President George W Bush win last week's election, American commentators have observed. What we have observed thus far is only the thin end of an enormous wedge. Religious ("red") Americans will continue to have children, and secular ("blue") Americans will continue to extinguish themselves.
That America is two nations has become a commonplace. But what is the destiny of these two nations? Demographics is destiny, said August Comte, and the demographics of "blue" America closely resemble the dying Europe with which the "blues" identify. "Red" America, characterized first of all by evangelical Christianity, is thriving.
"Where will the children of the future come from? They will come disproportionately from people who are at odds with the modern environment ... or who, out of fundamentalist or chauvinist conviction ... reject the game altogether," wrote Phillip Longman in The Empty Cradle (review, Faith, fertility and American dominance, September 8). "The religiously minded generally have bigger families than do secularists. In the United States, for example, fully 47% of people who attend church weekly say that the ideal family size is three or more children, as opposed to only 27% of those who seldom attend church."
Surging evangelical participation in last Tuesday's vote surprised the Democrats (' It's the culture, stupid', November 5). That was not the beginning of the end for the Democrats, but (in Winston Churchill's words) the beginning of the beginning. America's population will change and its politics will change as well. Twenty years from now the US religious majority may have a super-majority at all levels of government.
The liberal dystopia has no room for children. Homosexuals, the vanguard of liberated culture, have none, and heterosexuals preoccupied with cutting-edge sexual experimentation have few. The coastal metropolitan regions that gave John Kerry overwhelming support in last week's election resemble Western Europe in some respects (although they attract far more talented immigrants than ever Europe will). The population of New York City will not shrink as fast as Frankfurt's, but the direction is similar.
Take this simple calculation: 44% of the US population of 285 million as of the year 2000 census were evangelical (or "born again") Christians, according to an August 2000 Gallup poll. Let us assume that these 125 million evangelicals average three children per family during the next generation, and that the non-evangelical population averages 1.6 children per family. Within one generation (assuming a 0.5% death rate for both groups), evangelicals will form a majority of 61% of the population. This does not take into account the higher birthrate of devout Catholics, who tend toward social conservatism.
These are simplistic calculations, but it will not take long for the professionals to produce more accurate ones. Like the French and German general staffs before World War I, the strategists of both US political parties will spend the next four years analyzing demographic tables. Apart from the evangelical surge, the failure of the "youth vote" to buoy the Democratic side was another election surprise. In the future, the youth vote will belong increasingly to the Republicans.
Think On This: What Will Be the Results?
There has been an unholy alliance between those on the Left, who believe that man is endowed with rights but no duties, and libertarians on the Right, who believe that consumer choice is the answer to all social questions, an idea eagerly adopted by the Left in precisely those areas where it does not apply. Thus people have a right to bring forth children any way they like, and the children, of course, have the right not to be deprived of anything, at least anything material. How men and women associate and have children is merely a matter of consumer choice, of no more moral consequence than the choice between dark and milk chocolate, and the state must not discriminate among different forms of association and child rearing, even if such non-discrimination has the same effect as British and French neutrality during the Spanish Civil War.
The consequences to the children and to society do not enter into the matter: for in any case it is the function of the state to ameliorate by redistributive taxation the material effects of individual irresponsibility, and to ameliorate the emotional, educational, and spiritual effects by an army of social workers, psychologists, educators, counselors, and the like, who have themselves come to form a powerful vested interest of dependence on the government.
Monday, November 08, 2004
A soldier writes from Fallujah
Now, their own ignorance and arrogance will be their undoing. They believe that they can hold Fallujah. In fact, they have come from all over to be part of its glorious defense. I cannot describe the atmosphere that exists in the Regiment right now. Of course the men are nervous but I think they are more nervous that we will not be allowed to clean the rats nest out and instead will be forced to continue operating as is....
Every day, the enemy takes more hostages, assassinates developing Iraqi leaders and savagely beats suspected collaborators. I will give you just one recent example that happened last week. One of our patrols was moving down a street when they saw what looked like a fight. The Marines closed with the scene. It was a family that had come to Iraq on religious pilgrimage that was taken hostage and was being taken into Fallujah. The muj stopped for some reason and the father began fighting. The Marines interdicted and captured two of the kidnappers. Two more ran and the Marines could not get a shot without fear of killing/wounding others.
Every day, insurgents from inside Fallujah drive out and wait for Iraqis that work on our bases. Once the Iraqis leave they are stopped. The lucky ones are savagely beaten. The unfortunate ones are killed. A family that had fled Fallujah in order to get away from the fighting recently tried to return. When they got to their home, they found it taken over by terrorists (very common). When the patriarch showed the muj his deed in order to prove that the house was his, they took the old man out into the street and beat him senseless in front of his family.
Summary executions are common. Think about that. Summary executions inside Fallujah happen with sobering frequency. We have been witness to the scene on a number of occasions. Three men are taken from the trunk of a car and are made to walk to a ditch where they are shot. Bodies are found in the Euphrates without heads washed downstream from Fallujah. To date we have been allowed to do nothing.
I have no idea the numbers of beheadings that have occurred in Fallujah since I have been here. I have no idea the number of hostages that have ended up in Fallujah since we have been here. I just don't know that Americans would be able to comprehend the number anyway. Unfortunately, the situation has only gotten worse. There is no hope for any type of reasoned solution with an enemy like this.
Once again, we are being asked by citizens who have fled the city to go in and take the city back. They are willing for us to literally rubble the place in order to kill the terrorists within. Don't get me wrong, there are still many inside the town that support the terrorists and we cannot expect to be thanked publicly if we do take the city. There is a sense of de ja vu with the refugees telling us where their houses are and asking us to bomb them because the muj have taken them over. We heard the same thing in April only to end up letting the people down. Some no doubt have paid with their lives. The "good" people who may ultimately buy into a peaceful and prosperous Iraq are again asking us to do what we know must be done.
The Marines understand and are eager to get on with it. The only lingering fear in them is that we will be ordered to stop again.
Hattip to Chapter and Verse
Sen. Arlen Specter, the canny old fox of Pennsylvania politics, got carried away last Wednesday in the flush of an easy fifth-term victory and revealed too much of what he really thinks. He clearly imposed a litmus test requiring support of the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision for Supreme Court nominees at a time when Chief Justice William Rehnquist is gravely ill. Specter committed a rare political blunder that endangers his lifetime goal of becoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
To correct Specter's monumental mistake, his staff put out a news release trying to contradict the senator's undeniable advocacy of a litmus test. Actually, the brief statement repeated his warning of filibusters against President Bush's judges and did not pledge unqualified support for any nominee sent down by the White House. Furthermore, the sincerity of Specter's retreat was undermined when he said he had issued the statement at the urging of the conservative senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.
Assuming that Specter cannot and will not make a flat commitment of support, the prospect of his imminent chairmanship poses tests for two ambitious Republicans. Will Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, eyeing the White House, marshal his power to block Specter's ascension? Will Senate Republican Conference Chairman Santorum, after alienating his base by backing Specter against serious conservative opposition in this year's Pennsylvania primary, turn against his colleague?
That challenge from Rep. Pat Toomey threatened to end Specter's long political dance in which he has worn the GOP label while wooing left-wing pressure groups. Specter survived because of aggressive support from Bush as well as Santorum. No sooner had Specter been narrowly nominated than he turned leftward, declaring his independence from Bush and refusing to help two GOP congressional challengers in Pennsylvania who had a chance to win but went down to defeat.
His easy victory Tuesday, while Bush was losing the state, apparently was too sweet for Specter, 74, to contain himself. In his post-election press conference, he declared: ''When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe vs. Wade, that is unlikely.'' He warned Bush of facing filibusters, apparently without help from Chairman Specter. That was enough to inspire thousands of e-mails and telephone calls protesting Specter as chairman.
The Republican base would have been even more infuriated to read the full press conference transcript confirming Specter's litmus test: ''I have said that bluntly during the course of the campaign and before. When the Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed me, they quoted my statement that Roe vs. Wade was inviolate.'' He suggested that ''nobody can be confirmed'' who does not accept abortion rights.
Specter is in line to become chairman because Republican chairman term limits are forcing out Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa conservative and a rare non-lawyer on Judiciary, is ahead of Specter in seniority but wants to keep his Finance Committee chairmanship. That puts Frist, who has been criticized for his management of the judicial confirmation debacle, on the spot. He is considering asking the full Republican Conference to waive term limits for Hatch. The majority leader also may let Hatch keep his chairmanship temporarily to handle any immediate Supreme Court vacancy. Frist could mobilize a majority of the Judiciary Committee's expected 11 Republicans in the new Congress to breach seniority and bump Specter.
Santorum's situation is sensitive. With a potentially difficult re-election looming in 2006 against Democratic state Treasurer Barbara Hafer (a former Specter Republican), he does not want to alienate Specter. That explains Santorum's effort to get Specter to back down from his litmus test in Thursday's statement.In truth, Specter cannot really repudiate what he said. His modified stand only pledged to guarantee ''prompt action'' by the committee, not to actively support any Bush nominee. The test is whether the Republican establishment will tolerate a Judiciary chairman who opposes the will of voters who gave Bush a second term and continued GOP control of Congress based on him favoring traditional values.
Democracy moving forward...
Arthur Chrenkoff passes on the following news about the Iraqi election prep:
Iraq's free press has certainly been making it difficult for everyone to overlook the coming of democracy:
Newspapers in Iraq have been offering up a barrage of daily reports and opinion pieces over the past month on a variety of election-related subjects. Politicians and religious leaders "in the know" have commented on election developments, as the official Electoral Commission has detailed information on the mechanisms established to become a candidate and on voting. Articles have appeared on voter-education seminars that are being offered by political parties and organizations; the likelihood of whether or not expatriates will be allowed to vote from abroad, whether Sunnis will participate in the elections, as well as the political maneuverings as the parties work to forge alliances and place their candidates on election lists that will meet the stringent requirements established by the commission.
But perhaps the most salient barometer of the "mood" in Iraq can be found on the editorial pages of Iraq's dailies. Commentaries overwhelmingly support the elections and offer intelligent and well-constructed viewpoints on a variety of election-related topics. Writers regularly demand that the Electoral Commission provide more information on the election process, and call on the Iraqi people to cast their ballots on election day.
Writers publishing in a variety of newspapers supporting divergent political positions appear to agree on one fact: elections should not be derailed by terrorism and instability. Most contributors have stressed the necessity of holding nationwide polling. But some writers support the idea that partial elections in stable areas would be better than no elections. "Attaining half or three-quarters of legitimacy, so to speak, is better than no legitimacy at all in order to respond to the doubters and silence the loud voices that keep accusing the government of treason and illegitimacy. They act as if the whole Arab world enjoys legitimacy and as if Iraq is the only exception in the region that has no legitimacy in the middle of [an] ocean of Arab legitimacy," Latif al-Subayhawi wrote in the 18 October edition of "Al-Dustur."
The report notes that "news of Iraq's upcoming January elections has dominated the pages of Iraq's major dailies in recent weeks, to some extent crowding out the more detailed coverage of the growing insurgency, the presence of multinational forces, and even the workings of the interim administration." Which arguably demonstrates that the Iraqis are fully aware of how crucial the elections are to the future of their country.
The newspapers may be doing their best, but clearly there is no such thing as too much civic education in a country that had suffered under a brutal dictatorship for some three decades. The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger reports on the latest cooperative initiative between the Spirit of America and enthusiastic Iraqis. The project, Friends of Democracy, aims "to educate the Iraqi people about the meaning and purpose of democracy before that January election date." Read the whole story and see if you can assist this very valuable project.
With the democratic steamroller gaining speed, even United Nations officials in Baghdad are increasingly optimistic:
Preparations for the crucial January election are "on track" and the absence of international observers due to the country's tenuous security should not detract from the vote's credibility, the top U.N. electoral expert here said. . . .
"International observation is important only in that it's symbolic," Carlos Valenzuela told The Associated Press. . . . "I don't think that the process will be less credible without observers, absolutely not. They are not the essence. They are not essential. They are not important. If they can come, fine, of course."
According to Valenzuela, preparations on the local level are progressing according to plan: "Already . . . about 15 U.N. electoral officers were based in Amman, in neighboring Jordan, and that four experts from the International Foundation for Election Systems, a Washington-based organization, were working in Baghdad. Valenzuela said the electoral commission already has hired 400 electoral officers, of whom more than 300 were stationed outside Baghdad. Close to 6,000 Iraqis were undergoing training to be clerks at 548 voter registration centers across Iraq."
According to Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, the following timetable is in place in the run up to the election: "Registration will begin [in November] for voters, parties and candidates. . . . Iraqis will be informed of their status on the electoral rolls when they receive their food ration coupons beginning next week. . . . Voters will have until December 15th to straighten out any irregularities. . . . During the same time period, parties and candidates will register for the election." According to Iraqi Electoral Commission, while no exact date has been set yet, the election is scheduled to take place in the last week of January.
The process is already under way: "Adverts splashed across the front or back page of many Iraqi newspapers called on 'political entities--parties, groups or individuals--who want to enter the upcoming elections to contact us and obtain the necessary documents to validate their candidacy.' . . . Some 550 registration centers will be set up throughout the country in the same location or near where Iraqis are accustomed to receiving their food rations--a leftover from a United Nations oil-for-food program."
Voter registration did commence, as planned, on Monday, Nov. 1. "Today voter registration is starting all over the country. . . . It is going well up until now," said Farid Ayar, the spokesman for Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission. The goal is to achieve the registration level of some 12 million voters: "As many as 120,000 Iraqis are needed to run 30,000 polling stations in January." You can see the registration information posters here.
While the Iraqi authorities, with assistance from the U.N. and the European Union, are preparing the logistics side of the elections, the U.S. is committed to providing additional security for the foreign election workers. Australia will be training and equipping the contingent of 163 Fijian troops, which will provide security for U.N. election officials. The Royal Australian Air Force will fly the Fijian troops to Iraq.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Something to consider
TWO things happened on Tuesday night: George W. Bush won the election decisively, and John Kerry and the Democrats lost the election decisively. That’s what a close study of the final vote tally reveals. On Tuesday, 9 million more votes were cast than in 2000. On Tuesday, Bush received 8.3 million votes more than he did in 2000. John Podhoretz
What this says is that getting out the vote doesn't automatically favor the liberal cause if the liberal cause is not seen by those voters as right.
We pride ourselves on our democracy, and rightly so. We had a huge voter turnout. It is people power in action. Anybody who wants to play games with the final results isn't celebrating people power - such a person would be trying for force the will of a minority on a very clear majority. That is not the American way. The American way is to say, well, they didn't buy my message. What is it that I can work on now - care for the poor? Educational reform? Watchdogging the war on Iraq? That would be the American way.
Time to get busy. There's a democratically based republic to run.
The Sadness of Mistaken Perception
Bush won by 4 million votes, but a man committed suicide because, as his friend said: "It's a national tragedy. This election is devastating to all who believe in democracy."
4 million votes. If we were a straight democracy, with no electoral college, like a number of people in democratic circles had written that they wished for, there wouldn't even be any question. (Hat tip to BFB)
The real tragedy for many of those people who feel so hurt is that much of this country has repudiated what they consider good and true and right. I feel very sorry that someone would take their life because of it. But perhaps it means its time to examine why it was repudiated...and if the answer that comes up is "Because they're stupid," then they are setting themselves up to be hurt again.