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Posts Tagged ‘western civilization’

Colorado Christians outraged by Jesus art

Posted by Richard on October 5, 2010

An exhibit at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Loveland, CO, includes a twelve-panel lithograph by Enrique Chagoya. One of the panels apparently depicts Jesus engaged in oral sex with a man, and it's sparked outrage among Colorado's Christian community.

On Sunday, police used tear gas to disperse a violent mob of Christians attempting to storm the museum. One man was killed and seven injured, including three police officers. In nearby Boulder, roving gangs of Christian youths vandalized storefronts, defaced a mosque and a Buddhist ashram, blocked streets, and torched at least a dozen vehicles. Riots have broken out in several other Front Range cities with large Christian populations.

The Loveland City Council is expected to address the issue at its Tuesday meeting, and more violence is feared if the artwork isn't ordered removed. Museum employees, city council members, and their families are under 24-hour police protection due to numerous threats. 

… 

Of course, none of that's true (except the part about the lithograph). The outraged Christians are peacefully protesting with signs outside the museum — signs like "Would you portray Mohamad this way?"

I made up the part about rioting Christians. But you already knew that, didn't you? Because you know that Christians — at least modern Christians who come from a culture that, thanks to the Enlightenment, has largely embraced reason and tolerance — simply don't behave like that. Oh, maybe an isolated nut-case — but large, violent mobs of Christians? It just doesn't happen.  

Just as a reminder, here are the Mohammed cartoons that sparked massive riots throughout the world in which many people were killed. Not a sex act depicted among them.

Mohammed cartoons

BTW, I'm an atheist, so I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm just calling 'em as I see 'em.

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Is racism natural?

Posted by Richard on May 14, 2009

Dafydd at Big Lizards (don't let the banner blind you) says that racism is the most natural thing in the world. So much so that most racists don't even realize that that's what they are. But he argues that "natural" and "good" aren't synonymous, and that we should be glad that we've developed an alternative to this primitive, "natural" way of thinking (emphasis in original; I'm tempted to add my own, but instead just encourage you to read the following carefully and thoughtfully):

Racism is simply tribalism, where the tribe is expanded to encompass everyone of the same color or gross physiognomy. Western civilization is powerfully anti-racist because it's anti-tribalist; it redefines the comfort-group to a set determined by culture, not by skin color or facial features. That is why Western Borg culture led the way towards the abolition of racial slavery — and why many non-Western cultures, particularly in Moslemdom, still cannot understand what is wrong with that "peculiar institution."

(I use the term "Western Borg culture" because Western civilization is so powerful and attractive that it assimilates every culture it comes into contact with; resistance is futile.)

The song from South Pacific, "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught," has it exactly backwards: Racism is the default state; what must be carefully taught is individualism: Not the I-me-mine kind of narcissism found in infants and liberals, but the full-monty philosophy that other people are also individuals deserving of as much respect and liberty as we, unless by their own actions they forfeit that respect.

That philosophy is bizarre, unnatural, and incomprehensible to very young children and very primitive peoples. Fortunately, the economic version of individualism — Capitalism — is such a powerful wealth producer that (a) Western countries are rich enough to mandate liberty (subsistance societies haven't the luxury), and (b) the smell of money lures the primitive towards liberty, Capitalism, and individualism by another completely natural deadly sin: Envy.

Thus does God — if He exists — turn even human failings to His own purposes.

Amen. Amen, amen, amen!

One of the greatest evils of the modern (post-industrial-revolution) era is the romanticist philosophy of which Rousseau is one of the earliest and most prominent proponents: the belief that there is something noble, clean, and pure about uncivilized savages. There is not.

As Rand said decades ago, ideas matter. And the ideas of the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, and concomitant political movements (the American Revolution chief among them) led to vast improvements in the moral state of most human beings. Not the least of which was the widespread (except in the Muslim world) rejection of chattel slavery for the first time in human history. 

Racism is natural — but so is botulism. Both are destructive poisons. 

It's reason, the Enlightenment, individualism, and the philosophy of natural rights and liberty that have enabled us to transcend our "natural" and primitive urges, fears, and superstitions — and thank goodness that we have.

Most of us, anyway.

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali defends reason and the Enlightenment

Posted by Richard on January 9, 2008

I'm a strong defender of Western Civilization and the Enlightenment, but I've always argued that the ideas and values of the Enlightenment are available to anyone who chooses to embrace them, and not the property or province of some particular cultural or ethnic group. Nothing illustrates my point better than this: an African immigrant brought up in a primitive tribal culture has brilliantly corrected a conservative American intellectual's misunderstanding of reason and the Enlightenment.

Ayaan Hirsi AliThe conservative intellectual is Lee Harris. The African immigrant is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The vehicle is Hirsi Ali's outstanding review of Harris's new book, The Suicide of Reason. The book is about Islamic fanaticism and what Harris calls "the fanaticism of reason." Hirsi Ali refutes Harris's premise masterfully, rejecting the Hegelianism and collectivism that's hidden within conservatism and that undermines its intellectual foundation (emphasis added):

Harris’s book is so engaging that it is difficult to put down, and its haunting assessments make it difficult for a reader to sleep at night. He deserves praise for raising serious questions. But his arguments are not entirely sound.

I disagree, for instance, that the way to rescue Western civilization from a path of suicide is to challenge its tradition of reason. Indeed, for all his understanding of the rise of fanaticism in general and its Islamic manifestation in particular, Harris’s use of the term “reason” is faulty.

Enlightenment thinkers, preoccupied with both individual freedom and secular and limited government, argued that human reason is fallible. They understood that reason is more than just rational thought; it is also a process of trial and error, the ability to learn from past mistakes. The Enlightenment cannot be fully appreciated without a strong awareness of just how frail human reason is. That is why concepts like doubt and reflection are central to any form of decision-making based on reason.

Harris is pessimistic in a way that the Enlightenment thinkers were not. He takes a Darwinian view of the struggle between clashing cultures, criticizing the West for an ethos of selfishness, and he follows Hegel in asserting that where the interest of the individual collides with that of the state, it is the state that should prevail. This is why he attributes such strength to Islamic fanaticism. The collectivity of the umma elevates the communal interest above that of the individual believer. Each Muslim is a slave, first of God, then of the caliphate. Although Harris does not condone this extreme subversion of the self, still a note of admiration seems to creep into his descriptions of Islam’s fierce solidarity, its adherence to tradition and the willingness of individual Muslims to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the greater good.

In addition, Harris extols American exceptionalism together with Hegel as if there were no contradiction between the two. But what makes America unique, especially in contrast to Europe, is its resistance to the philosophy of Hegel with its concept of a unifying world spirit. It is the individual that matters most in the United States.

I was not born in the West. I was raised with the code of Islam, and from birth I was indoctrinated into a tribal mind-set. Yet I have changed, I have adopted the values of the Enlightenment, and as a result I have to live with the rejection of my native clan as well as the Islamic tribe. Why have I done so? Because in a tribal society, life is cruel and terrible. And I am not alone. Muslims have been migrating to the West in droves for decades now. They are in search of a better life. Yet their tribal and cultural constraints have traveled with them. And the multiculturalism and moral relativism that reign in the West have accommodated this.

Harris is correct, I believe, that many Western leaders are terribly confused about the Islamic world. They are woefully uninformed and often unwilling to confront the tribal nature of Islam. The problem, however, is not too much reason but too little. Harris also fails to address the enemies of reason within the West: religion and the Romantic movement. It is out of rejection of religion that the Enlightenment emerged; Romanticism was a revolt against reason.

Both the Romantic movement and organized religion have contributed a great deal to the arts and to the spirituality of the Western mind, but they share a hostility to modernity. Moral and cultural relativism (and their popular manifestation, multiculturalism) are the hallmarks of the Romantics. To argue that reason is the mother of the current mess the West is in is to miss the major impact this movement has had, first in the West and perhaps even more profoundly outside the West, particularly in Muslim lands.

Thus, it is not reason that accommodates and encourages the persistent segregation and tribalism of immigrant Muslim populations in the West. It is Romanticism. Multiculturalism and moral relativism promote an idealization of tribal life and have shown themselves to be impervious to empirical criticism. My reasons for reproaching today’s Western leaders are different from Harris’s. I see them squandering a great and vital opportunity to compete with the agents of radical Islam for the minds of Muslims, especially those within their borders. But to do so, they must allow reason to prevail over sentiment.

To argue, as Harris seems to do, that children born and bred in superstitious cultures that value fanaticism and create phalanxes of alpha males are doomed — and will doom others — to an existence governed by the law of the jungle is to ignore the lessons of the West’s own past. There have been periods when the West was less than noble, when it engaged in crusades, inquisitions, witch-burnings and genocides. Many of the Westerners who were born into the law of the jungle, with its alpha males and submissive females, have since become acquainted with the culture of reason and have adopted it. They are even — and this should surely relieve Harris of some of his pessimism — willing to die for it, perhaps with the same fanaticism as the jihadists willing to die for their tribe. In short, while this conflict is undeniably a deadly struggle between cultures, it is individuals who will determine the outcome.

Bravo! Bravissimo!

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Gay rights, the Enlightenment, and the War Against Islamofascism

Posted by Richard on August 19, 2007

Roger L. Simon (emphasis added):

For me gay marriage is a human rights issue. It is a natural development of the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, part of extending to gay people what was extended to African-Americans at that time. Simple equality. … 

All that said, I doubt I will be voting in 2008 because of the candidate’s stand on same-sex marriage and not just because (see above) it is difficult to determine what those candidates really think on the issue. Those of us concerned about human rights, about the separation of church and state, about gay rights and women’s rights, about democracy itself, have bigger fish to fry – the War on Terror. And here is the connection in my belief system.

Because I am such an adamant adherent of gay rights, women’s rights, human rights – the values that evolved out of the Enlightenment – I have to vote for the candidate I think will best carry forth that war (by whatever means appropriate at the moment) to defend those Enlightenment values. This means, unless I am very lucky, that I will not always love that person in all areas. Indeed, I may have to swallow some very bitter pills, but these are serious times, by far the most serious of my lifetime. And I was born at the end of World War II.

I never cease to be amazed – and perhaps it is my own myopia – that my former colleagues on the Left can be blind to this situation. They act as if the threat is not real and is only a blip caused by a post 9/11 overreaction by George Bush, thus ignoring virtually all of Western history since the year 800, not to mention the overwhelming demographic changes of recent decades. (John Edwards – interestingly an opponent of gay marriage – recently called the “War on Terror” a bumper sticker. At least, he’s consistent.) The very people most threatened by the ideology of Islamism and the institution of Sharia law – gays, women, freethinkers – are often the very people least likely to defend themselves against it. What we have on our Left is a culture of denial equal to, if not exceeding, the German Jews of the 1930s and one that has taken the canard about all politics being local to an almost ludicrous extreme.

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Read the whole thing.

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A Muslim parallel society

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2007

Last week, I commented on a German judge's ruling that the Koran gives a Muslim man the right to beat his wife. A few days earlier, I noted LGF's post on the "camel caravan" rule for Muslim schoolgirls' participation in field trips. A loyal reader recently emailed me about a long piece in Germany's Der Spiegel ("The Mirror") about these and related issues. It's entitled "Paving the Way to a Muslim Parallel Society." I've finally read all eight parts, and I highly recommend it. Here's the "executive summary":

A recent ruling in Germany by a judge who cited the Koran underscores the dilemma the country faces in reconciling Western values with a growing immigrant population. A disturbing number of rulings are helping to create a parallel Muslim world in Germany that is welcoming to Islamic fundamentalists.

Some of the evidence cited for this claim involves matters of headscarves, field trips, and swimming lessons. But some of it is much more grim: 

In 2005, Hatun Sürücü, a young Berlin woman, was killed because she was "living like a German." In her family's opinion, this was a crime only her death could expiate. Her youngest brother executed her by shooting her several times, point blank, at a Berlin bus stop. But because prosecutors were unable to prove that the family council had planned the act, only the killer himself could be tried for murder and, because he was underage, he was given a reduced sentence. The rest of the family left the courtroom in high spirits, and the father rewarded the convicted boy with a watch.  

Beatings and honor killings, often excused or treated leniently by the courts, are a growing problem in Germany. Even the apparently more innocuous matters supposedly involving "choice," like the field trip, swimming, and other female modesty issues, conceal the vicious reality: the "choices" being exercised aren't the apparent desire of the Muslim women and girls to be modest, they're the Muslim men's desire to subjugate and control their wives and daughters, treating them like property. Germany's women's shelters are increasingly seeing Muslim women and girls fleeing arranged marriages, slave-like living conditions, and savage beatings:

Ayten Köse, 42, who manages a shelter in the Neukölln Rollberg district, tries to help. She doesn't resemble most of the Muslim women here. Instead of a headscarf, she wears her hair uncovered. Köse knows how difficult it is for Muslim women in Germany to be courageous and rebel. …

The problem for many women, says Köse, is that they are completely alone, alone against their own family or their husband's family. "And if they haven't attended school in Germany," Köse explains, "they usually don't even know about human rights." 

Besides the human rights issues, there are other lesser public policy implications for the mulitculturalists' acquiescence to a parallel Muslim society. Germany's massive social welfare system can ill afford some of the consequences:

In another letter from Absurdistan, the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs issued the following announcement to German health insurance agencies in the summer of 2004: "Polygamous marriages must be recognized if they are legal under the laws of the native country of the individuals in question."

What the policy statement boiled down to was this: In certain cases Muslim men from countries where polygamy is legal — like Morocco, Algeria and Saudi Arabia — could add a second wife to their government health insurance policies without having to pay an additional premium.

Read it, please. All eight parts. The Germans have a head start on us, but this is where we're headed, too, if CAIR and the like have their way. 

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Hitchens on Steyn

Posted by Richard on February 12, 2007

In the new issue of City Journal, Christopher Hitchens reviewed Mark Steyn’s new book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, and the review really is a must read. I haven’t read Steyn’s book yet, but I’ve heard good things about it. Hitchens approves of it ("a welcome wake-up call"), but is far from uncritical and goes well beyond just reviewing. He points out the book’s flaws, bolsters its weaknesses, and offers some policy recommendations of his own.

This is not to deny Steyn’s salient point that demography and cultural masochism, especially in combination, are handing a bloodless victory to the forces of Islamization. His gift for the illustrative anecdote and the revealing quotation is evident, and if more people have woken up to the Islamist menace since he began writing about it, then the credit is partly his. Muslims in one part of England demand the demolition of an ancient statue of a wild boar, and in another part of England make plots to blow up airports, buses, and subway trains. The two threats are not identical. But they are connected, and Steyn attempts to tease out the filiations with the saving tactic of wit.

I still think—or should I say hope?—that the sheer operatic insanity of September 11 set back the Islamist project of a “soft” conquest of host countries, Muslim countries included. Up until 9/11, the Talibanization of Pakistan—including the placement of al-Qaida sympathizers within its nuclear program—proceeded fairly smoothly. Official Pakistani support for Muslim gangsters operating in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and India went relatively unpunished. Saudi funds discreetly advanced the Wahhabist program, through madrassa-building and a network of Islamic banking, across the globe. In the West, Muslim demands for greater recognition and special treatment had become an accepted part of the politically correct agenda. Some denounced me as cynical for saying at the time that Osama bin Laden had done us a favor by disclosing the nature and urgency of the Islamist threat, but I still think I was right. …

Of course, these have not been the only consequences of September 11 and its aftermath. Islamist suicide-terrorism has mutated into new shapes and adopted fresh grievances as a result of the mobilization against it. Liberalism has found even more convoluted means of blaming itself for the attack upon it. But at least the long period of somnambulism is over, and the opportunity now exists for antibodies to form against the infection.

Hitchens doesn’t care much for the "somewhat slapdash" 10-point program with which Steyn ends his book. Instead, Hitchens offers his own eight steps to counter Islamism, and I urge you to read and think about them. In particular, his opening point regarding "one-way multiculturalism" and "creeping Islamism" proposes the long-needed showing of some cultural backbone that’s essential to the moral and intellectual defense of Western Civilization.

Hitchens’ recommendations regarding India — "the other great multiethnic democracy under attack from Muslim fascism" — and the West African states threatened by the jihadists make a lot of sense to me, too. And I’d never even thought about the seismological implications of Iran’s nuclear program. Go read the whole thing.
 

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The example of Napier

Posted by Richard on December 13, 2006

Larry Kudlow posted a great little item from "The Week" in the 12/18 edition of National Review (it’s available at National Review Online to subscribers only). It briefly summarized the story of Colorado’s Saudi slaveholder, mentioned the State Department’s pandering to the Saudis, and contrasted that with a wonderful story of how a proper British imperialist handled a stark cultural conflict (emphasis added):

A Saudi Couple living in Aurora, Colo., were convicted of enslaving their Indonesian nanny, taking her passport, forcing her to live in the basement, and paying her less than two dollars a day. The husband, Hamaidan al-Turki, also made her a sex slave, abusing and raping her. Hamaidan’s wife plea-bargained down to 60 days in jail and $90,000 in restitution, but Hamaidan got 28 years to life. “The state has criminalized these basic Muslim behaviors,” he told the judge. And rightly so. Justice wobbled at the end when, at the urging of the State Department, Colorado’s attorney general John Suthers flew to Riyadh to brief King Abdullah on the matter. Better to have followed the example of Sir Charles Napier, a British general in India, when local Hindus complained of a prohibition on suttee. “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Bravo, Sir Charles! To paraphrase Karl Hess (via Barry Goldwater), certitude in defense of liberty, justice, and civilized customs is no vice, and tolerance of barbarism is no virtue.
 

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Defending our laws against slavery

Posted by Richard on November 24, 2006

Remember Homaidan Al-Turki, the Saudi slaveholder in Colorado who was convicted this past summer? At the time, I mentioned a source that said he had ties to the Saudi royal family, and that’s apparently true. The Al-Turkis seem to be a prominent family, either related or closely connected to the house of Saud, which was quite angry about Al-Turki’s conviction and sentencing. In fact, they apparently demanded an explanation. And, naturally, the State Department did what it could to accommodate our good friends, the Saudis.

The State Department pressured Colorado’s Attorney General, John Suthers, into going to Saudi Arabia, and they paid for the trip. He was summoned before King Abdullah, Crown Prince Sultan, and members of the Al-Turki family. He had to defend our legal system, our quaint prohibition against treating women as domestic animals and sex slaves, and our "harsh" sentencing.

That’s rich — Saudis accusing us of punishing someone too harshly.

Suthers recently returned from Riyadh, and had enough sense to insist he stood his ground and didn’t pander or grovel:

"I was not there to be apologetic about anything that’s transpired, but I was there to talk about some of the cultural differences. It’s ultimately the cultural differences that lead to the concerns the Saudis have about the case," said Suthers.

According to Suthers he does not think any minds were changed, but says his mission, answering all questions about the case, was accomplished.

My guess is that State Department personnel did the pandering and groveling for him.

Your tax dollars at work, folks. Trying to soothe the ruffled feathers of 7th-century barbarians. I’m appalled.
 

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Thugs and crazies

Posted by Richard on November 22, 2006

There isn’t really any doubt that the thugs of Syria, the crazies of Iran, or both are behind the attempt to topple the Lebanese government via assassinations. Gateway Pundit has a good roundup of what’s happened, with lots of updates and links.

The prospect of civil war in Lebanon — or a quick Hezbollah takeover — follows closely on the heels of rumors that Baker’s Iraq Study Group will recommend making deals with Syria and Iran. Mary Madigan wrote a great analysis of the situation:

Discussions about Middle East politics remind me of a bit from a comic, Pearls Before Swine. One of the characters is a Zebra, who can’t understand why the lions keep eating his fellow Zebras. So, he writes a letter to the lions filled with philosophical questions about peace, understanding and the nature of being, asking why can’t they all get along, why can’t they be friends..

The answer comes back from the lions "we eat Zebras becuz you taste gud."

One of the main reasons why we’ve been so ineffective against the mob politics in Syria, Iran, Hezbollahland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia etc. is the way we allow ourselves to be distracted by their propaganda and by our own desire for peace. We don’t pay enough attention to their goals and their actions.

If we listen to their propaganda, we can tell ourselves that we’re dealing with a group of people who are motivated by religion and philosophy. We’re fighting an ideological war.

If we pay attention to their actions, we realize that we’re dealing with a bunch of gangsters. They’re well-organized gangsters, funded by millions in oil money, but they’re gangsters all the same. They want more money and power (as much as they can get), and they use guns to get them. Some are knuckle draggers and some wear suits and move money, propaganda and religious dogma around.

If the Gottis and Gambinos had wised up to the power of multicuturalism, leftist self-loathing and the multitude of hiding places provided by the skirts of religion, they could have ruled the world.

Reading Madigan’s piece, I was reminded of how Ayn Rand used to speak of the Witch Doctor and Atilla (symbols of faith and force), and how they seemed so different, but were very much alike in their rejection of reason. The Islamofascists — enemies of modernity, the Enlightenment, and Western Civilization — are actually a dangerous fusion of the Witch Doctor and Atilla into one. Crazed thugs, if you will. All the more reason they must be taken seriously and opposed with all our might.
 

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Jihad Against the West conference

Posted by Richard on October 17, 2006

If you’re in the Boston area this weekend (10/20-10/22), you might want to check out the Ayn Rand Institute’s three-day conference, The Jihad Against the West: The Real Threat and the Right Response.

Speakers include Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer, so this promises to be a really tremendous conference. The descriptions of the events certainly make me wish I could attend.

If you’re a student, the deal is irresistible: all the lectures and panel discussions are free, and the Saturday evening reception is just $15. See the registration page for details of on-site registration and proof of student status.

Non-students are presumed to be greedy, rich capitalists who can easily afford $30-55 for each event.

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