January 12, 2005

Rampant Perversion on Christmas?

Stephen Schwartz highlights a nasty rant by a Saudi Arabian blowhard about how the south Asian tsunami was the wrath of Allah.

In one such instance, Shaykh Salih Fawzan al-Fawzan, a high functionary of the Saudi regime, said on television, “These great tragedies and collective punishments that are wiping out villages, towns, cities, and even entire countries, are Allah's punishments of the people of these countries, even if they are Muslims." He continued, "Some of our forefathers said that if there is usury and fornication in a certain village, Allah permits its destruction. We know that at these resorts, which unfortunately exist in Islamic and other countries in South Asia, and especially at Christmas, fornication and sexual perversion of all kinds are rampant. The fact that it happened at this particular time is a sign from Allah. It happened at Christmas, when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion. That's when this tragedy took place, striking them all and destroyed everything. It turned the land into wasteland, where only the cries of the ravens are heard. I say this is a great sign and punishment on which Muslims should reflect.
I think I know what this Christmas business might be about.

I had a cup of coffee with one of my guides in Ghadames, Libya back in November. He sheepishly wanted to know if a particular rumor about us was true.

“I have heard,” he said, “that European and American men have sex with other men’s wives on Christmas. Is it true? Libyan people don’t like that.”

American people don’t like that,” I said. “No, it isn’t true. We don’t do that. Europeans don’t do it either.”

“You don’t do it? Really?” he said.

“No,” I told him. “Where did you hear that?”

He looked around the room at people sitting next to our table and shrugged. “Everyone in Libya thinks this. But I promise I will tell people that you told me it isn’t true.”

I appreciated his myth-busting services. And I appreciated that he asked about it. He seemed to suspect it wasn’t true. So I decided to be perfectly honest with him and told about the sixties, key parties, and swingers. He was a smart and fair man. It probably helped that I told him there was a kernal of truth (but only a kernel) to the Christmas myth, even though it wasn’t at all common and had nothing to do with Christmas.

Anyway, that might be what Shaykh Salih Fawzan al-Fawzan was shrieking about on Saudi TV.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 12, 2005 06:59 PM
Comments

I think that a massive airlift of televisions and a culturally sensitive educational channel would do wonders in certain parts of the world.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 12, 2005 07:07 PM

Oh no!!

Those terrible Muslims again!!

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 07:10 PM

You guys don't do that on Christmas?

Posted by: Court at January 12, 2005 07:11 PM

Those terrible Muslims again!!

No Benjamin, it's those terrible christians again. Can't you read.

You're so protective of those jihadis one would think they're your pets.

Posted by: David at January 12, 2005 07:21 PM

I spent some time in Saudi Arabia on two different occasions and was surprised at the number of questions I got along these lines. And how often they seemed to not believe me when I answered. It's not like Saudi's going to school or just being in the US is an unusual thing so you would think access to the answer would be available. Maybe the root cause of the problem isn't that far removed from simple college student bragging about sexual conquests.

Posted by: tommy at January 12, 2005 07:37 PM

Benji: Oh no!! Those terrible Muslims again!!

Good God. I don't care that the Saudi in question is a Muslim. I do care that he's such a knuckle-dragging reactionary that he exalts in the deaths of more than a hundred thousand people because they supposedly fornicate on Christmas.

Why get defensive on behalf of a guy like that? What's in it for you?

By the way, Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the article about this creep, is a Muslim himself. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. (He has a Jewish name, but that's because he converted.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 12, 2005 07:38 PM

and ps., you guys may think this story is funny and humorous, hahahaha, but it has far darker implications than you think, certainly more than Benjamin thinks.

This iman displays quietly clearly the mentality that allows someone to slam jetliners into christian skyscrapers, and it explains why so many people in indonesia walk around with Osama t-shirts.

When they express a desire to destroy Western "decadence", it's not "George Bush" and "American foreign policy" they're talking about. They're talking about the western liberal way of life where we fuck our neighbor's wives on christmas.

But, predictably like clockwork, what's little Benji's reaction but to defend the filthy jihadi and imply Michael and the rest of us are some kind of a bullies after WE are the ones being called degenerate wives-fuckers. And leave it to the Lefty's like Benji to get it completely ass-backward.

Said jihadi could drop a nuke on our city and Benji would get defensive on his behalf.

Posted by: David at January 12, 2005 07:43 PM

Oh no!!

Those terrible Muslim reactionaries again!!

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 07:48 PM

Said jihadi could drop a nuke on our city and Benji would get defensive on his behalf.

Er.... not very likely that, I have to say.

Anyway, if that were to occur, I would get a bit perturbed.

I am not a big fan of nuclear weapons!

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 07:51 PM

Er.... not very likely that, I have to say.

Benjamin,

if indeed it's not likely, it's not thanks to you and your ilk.

Thankfully, you and your peeps have been relegated to the sidelines from where you can do no harm, except to snip out our heels like chihuahas.

Posted by: David at January 12, 2005 07:58 PM

"But, predictably like clockwork, what's little Benji's reaction but to defend the filthy jihadi..."

I did not defend the "filthy jihadi".

I just find Totten's reptition of themes amusing at times. Well, I suppose "we" are at war etc.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 07:59 PM

David

LOL!

Yes, I admit it has nothing to do with me. I just pay my taxes like everybody else.

"snip out our heels like chihuahas."

Interesting metaphor, old boy.

So... Let's see. Yes, the fearless crusader for democracy, battling the enemy in the desert sands, while "me and my peeps" snap like chihuahas.

Hubris before a fall, I say.

The prosaic reality is that we are just two chaps behind keyboards.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 08:06 PM

I know this is off topic, but I think this is significant. From cbc.ca:

"White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday that the Iraq Survey Group, a team of 1,200 military and intelligence specialists and support staff, has stopped actively looking for the weapons (of mass destruction).

He said the experts would only act to follow up reports that banned arms had been discovered."

Remember WMD? The reason for wading into the Iraq quagmire?

I find all the "Bush=Hitler" rhetoric simple-minded and wrong, but I think there is a different analogy to be made here.

Hitler was kicking ass in Western Europe until he made the colossal mistake of invading Russia, and drove Russia and Britain (and later America) into each other's arms. Similarly Bush was kicking Al Qaeda's ass in the WOT until he charged into Iraq, and drove Baathists and Muslim fanatics into each other's arms. I don't think there was a link between the two groups before the invasion, but I think there is now - thanks to George.

The end result of this probably won't be America's defeat, but it will mean the war will be longer and much more costly.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at January 12, 2005 08:28 PM

Benji: I just find Totten's reptition of themes amusing at times.

I write about foreign policy. If you think that's funny, that's why your ilk are out of power right now.

David is exactly right about how this creep's mentality leads people to slam jets into skyscrapers.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 12, 2005 08:30 PM

Why get defensive on behalf of a guy like that? What's in it for you?

I didn't see Benjamin getting defensive on behalf of anyone. His sarcasm simply highlighted the question of why you choose to use your soapbox to continually highlight the worst examples of bigotry by Muslims while ignoring those of other faiths and creeds ... as if bigotry and hateful attitudes were the sole preserve of Islam as opposed to a curse of misguided religious belief everywhere.

For example, the Anglican (Episcopal) Dean of Sydney said that the tsunami was a warning to humanity that God's judgment was coming, which when you boil it down is a fundamentally similar conclusion.

But you wouldn't care about that, because your agenda is to suggest that there is something uniquely pernicious about Islamic extremism (considered in isolation from the political motivations with which it is associated), and therefore noting the extremism expressed within other religious faiths detracts from that message.

I mean, seriously, what should disturb Americans more: a Saudi cleric spouting meaningless drivel about the tsunami, or the President of the United States telling them that only an evangelical Christian would be qualified to serve as President?

Posted by: Mork at January 12, 2005 08:31 PM

Benjamin,

Don't be so hypersensitive about criticisms regarding a man of muslim faith. I seem to remember the likes of Pat Roberts and Jerry Falwell uttering the same sort of nonsense shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

Religious fundamentalism is a social disease in much the same way as things like political correctness and homophobia. We will never be rid of it, but we should seek to minimize it's ability to influence fertile minds as much as humanly possible.

Posted by: Mike at January 12, 2005 08:34 PM

Michael

David is exactly right about how this creep's mentality leads people to slam jets into skyscrapers.

Ah, of course, 9/11. Well, in your search for the truth regarding that particular atrocity, I would suggest focusing on the admittedly whacky religious dimension will lead you to warped conclusions.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 08:37 PM

Ahh that's right Benjamin, I almost forgot it's all the imperialist American warmongers' fault. Damn neo-cons....

Dude, you're just a dick. It's asses like you who I was thinking about as I walked around with smug grin all day long on November 3rd, 2004.

Posted by: Mike at January 12, 2005 08:42 PM

Mork: your agenda is to suggest that there is something uniquely pernicious about Islamic extremism (considered in isolation from the political motivations with which it is associated), and therefore noting the extremism expressed within other religious faiths detracts from that message.

I write about foreign policy, and specifically the Terror War, World War IV, whatever the hell you want to call it. So, yes, considering who the enemy is I'm going to focus a bit more on Islamic extremism than Christian extremism for now. I'm an atheist, you know. I carry no brief for Christian fanatics.

I don't appreciate your suggestion that I'm a racist, or whatever it is you're trying to pull here. Keep it up and I'll ban you. I don't have to put up with this kind of bullshit on my own Web site.

Don't argue with me about it. I'm getting on an airplane in an hour, and if I see you've continued your little PC inquisition when I get back online you're out of here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 12, 2005 08:49 PM

Oh Lord.Plus ca change;plus c'est la meme chose!!
I just got a new external hard drive and have been doing long over-due backups so that I don't fall on the ground weeping when the inevitable happens,and as a result have been missing the 'fun'now that Benjamin appears to have taken up full-time inhabitance at Michael's site.
How frightfully depressing.
Keep up the good work David(et al).You all have a stronger constitution than I,my friends.

Posted by: dougf at January 12, 2005 08:59 PM

Oh, and I'm back online in a matter of hours, not days, so don't anybody go away.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 12, 2005 09:07 PM

Safe travels.

Posted by: Mike at January 12, 2005 09:09 PM

This Imam is just preaching standard Wahhabi beliefs. To them, all non-Wahhabi statues, holidays and beliefs, even if they're Muslim, are profane.

Benjamin – do you know anything about Saudi beliefs?

Why don’t you tell us all about the historical friendship between Britain and the Saudi Wahhabis? Why don’t you tell us about the Saudi history of attacking other Muslim groups, targeting and slaughtering women and children, desecrating graveyards and destroying cultural icons?

Why don’t you tell us all about how, in a stunningly profound act of idiocy, the British Government gave these violent, loathed lunatic Wahhabis control over the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina – a dunderheaded tactic that would be comparable to giving Nazi David Duke control of the Vatican.

I’m willing to bet that you know zilch about the Wahhabis, so here’s a link to info about their beliefs:

The Wahhabis' strict interpretation of the Sharia has sanctioned extreme laws and forms of punishment. According to Stephen Schwartz in the October 6, 2001 London Spectator , virtually all recent acts of terrorism have been enacted by Wahhabis. "Bin Laden is a Wahhabi. So are the suicide bombers in Israel. So are his Egyptian allies, who exulted as they stabbed foreign tourists to death at Luxor not many years ago, bathing in blood up to their elbows and emitting blasphemous cries of ecstasy. So are the Algerian Islamist terrorists, whose contribution to the purification of the world consisted of murdering people for such sins as running a movie projector or reading secular newspapers. So are the Taliban style guerrillas in Kashmir who murder Hindus."

The violence inflicted because of Deobandi and Wahhabi religious ideology has been substantial. Among the thousands of discussions of Islamic fundamentalism since September 11, one statement sums up the religious connection: "Not all Muslims are suicide bombers, but all Muslim suicide bombers are Wahhabis."

Posted by: mary at January 12, 2005 09:15 PM

Michael: I had a cup of coffee with one of my guides in Ghadames, Libya back in November. He sheepishly wanted to know if a particular rumor about us was true.

And lest you think it's just one or two insane imams, they've got the whole muslim world brainwashed to their way of thinking. Most of them aren't going to do anything about it, like your guide/taxi driver, or even give it that much thought during their daily lives, but they won't shed too many tears when Allah pours his wrath upon the western infidel in the form of Al-Qaida and dirty nukes or jihad. Osama is still free because he's got entire segments of the muslim population supporting his way of thinking. Why don't we see muslims in the West protesting how Osama has hijacked their "religion of peace"? Where are the million-man marches against Osama?

Crickets chirping.

Posted by: David at January 12, 2005 09:19 PM

>>>"or the President of the United States telling them that only an evangelical Christian would be qualified to serve as President?"

You're a stinking liar mork. Why don't you actually provide us with the quote? It's not hard to find. I've seen it. Because you know that the quote, and it's context, wouldn't even come near to supporting your petty little slander. Like Michael Moore's cut and paste job, your intention is to deceive, not inform people.

Posted by: David at January 12, 2005 09:25 PM

It's hard to see how people can quip dismissively about "those evil muslims" after September 11. Sure, other religions have their fundamentalists who say creepy things, but I'm not aware of any of them crashing airplanes into skyscrapers.

Demonization of the enemy is the precursor to genocide, as modern history amply shows. Prejudices which focus on bodily functions, like sex in this case, are particularly noxious and harmful. The nazis used similar propoganda against the jews to engender disgust and physical loathing, making it easier to employ the final solution. Anyone who does not recognize a similar potential in the muslim world today is simply practicing willful blindness.

Posted by: MarkC at January 12, 2005 10:16 PM

Mike

Dude, you're just a dick. It's asses like you who I was thinking about as I walked around with smug grin all day long on November 3rd, 2004

LOL!

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 10:18 PM

Michael

World War IV?

Coined by Norman Podhoretz I do believe, grandfather of neo-conservatism. Transformed Commentary into a neo-conservative journal, father of John Podhoretz, of the Murdoch owned New York Post. His son-in-law, Elliot Abrams, was convicted of lying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal (but of course now serves as a top aide on the Middle East for Dubya.)

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 10:34 PM

Mary

Why don’t you tell us all about how, in a stunningly profound act of idiocy, the British Government gave these violent, loathed lunatic Wahhabis control over the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina – a dunderheaded tactic that would be comparable to giving Nazi David Duke control of the Vatican.

The British govt capable of profound acts of idiocy? You betcha! Just like the American govt.

The Wahhabis are off the hook now though.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 10:39 PM

"It happened at Christmas, when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion.... I say this is a great sign and punishment on which Muslims should reflect."

If fornication is so evil that it merits Allah's severe punishment, then how to explain that the Islamic concept of heaven consists in precisely that (the 72 virgins)? That would be like Christians positing that everyone in heaven gets to murder 72 people.

I wish Muslims would reflect on that!

Posted by: Caroline at January 12, 2005 10:44 PM

I don't appreciate your suggestion that I'm a racist, or whatever it is you're trying to pull here. Keep it up and I'll ban you. I don't have to put up with this kind of bullshit on my own Web site.

Michael - you are obviously so hypersensitive about the implications of your beliefs that you're not reading clearly - how on earth you read an accusation of racism into that post I have no idea.

So let me spell out in more detail what my post was trying to highlight ... if you want to ban me for my impudence, well, good luck to you ... I think it would say a a lot more about you and the brittleness of your self-image than it would about the substance of my opinions, which I don't think are remotely extreme.

Pretty soon after 9/11, you reached a series of conclusions about the causes of terrorism that you now hold more or less as an article of faith - you don't question them in yourself, and you don't engage substantively with anyone else who questions them: your reaction above is an example of that.

One of those conclusions is that because the terrorists shared a particular philosophy, therefore the philosophy itself must be the proximate cause of the violence against us, and so, therefore, our enemy is all of those who share the philosophy.

This is a pretty convenient conclusion in a number of respects:

  • it creates a more significant "enemy" than a simple terrorist network, justifying a more radical response, which, in turn creates the opportunity to satisfy a psychological need that a lot of us felt immediately after 9/11 - to have a response of a magnitude that matched the psychic impact we felt in response to the terror attack;
  • it entirely pre-empts any need to examine political factors that may have contributed to the violence: if these were people that were programmed by an evil ideology to kill us no matter what, then it's not possible that anything else that we have been involved with or contributed to influenced their actions. This has the delightful consequence that we then don't have to deal with complex ideas such as the possibility that the natural, human reaction to some of our actions might be anger at us. This way, we don't even have to consider the possibility of that reaction into the cost-benefit analysis of our policies, because, guess what, the terrorists (and anyone who might possibly become a terrorist) are all in the thrall of an evil ideology that would make them hate us anyway.

The only problem is that it's a simplistic and lazy piece of illogic: as anyone whose been to college ought to know, a correlation is not a cause. How do we know that the ideology itself is enough? How do we know that the ideology is in fact a driver at all, rather than a consequence of other forces - could there be something common to its adherents that attracts them to it to explain what they would have felt anyway? Or is it one of a number of forces that combine to lead people to the conclusion that violence is appropriate?

The problem with the easy "we are fighting the Islamicists" ideology is that it makes adherents actively hostile to understanding many of the salient factors that will decide whether or not we are safe from terrorism, thereby leading smart people into stupid conclusions, and giving stupid people an excuse for bigotry, racism and callousness.

From my perspective, the second result - which you continually accuse me of being "PC" for observing (as if that made it untrue) - is merely an aesthetic displeasure: it rankles to see coarse and stupid people behave in such a way, but that's small cheese.

What really upsets is that the refusal to question the convenient assumptions and look logically and factually at the causes of terrorism and at America's interests has real and dangerous consequences. Not only are we failing to effectively combat the causes of terrorism: we are actively making them worse.

To return to the original point, your post, Michael, reflected your religious adherence to the view that the ideology is the cause of the violence, and there is nothing worth examining beyond that. (Incidentally, is it not typical of human nature that an ideologue will automatically assume that others are also motivated primarily by ideology)? My objection is simply that it is based on a simplistic and counterfactual assumption that continues to result in America causing unnecessary damage to its security, its discourse and its ability to lead and influence the world.

Posted by: Mork at January 12, 2005 10:47 PM

You're a stinking liar mork. Why don't you actually provide us with the quote? It's not hard to find. I've seen it. Because you know that the quote, and it's context, wouldn't even come near to supporting your petty little slander.

It's up on Andrew Sullivan, for anyone who cares. I agree with his conclusion.

Posted by: Mork at January 12, 2005 10:49 PM

"christian skyscrapers"

???!!!!!!!!??????!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 12, 2005 11:04 PM

That's ok Benjamin, you can laugh all you want, but just remember this; I'm a spiteful, vindictive prick and because of this I derive sincere pleasure from the fact that virtually every word uttered by GWB grates against your every nerve. You can whine, cry, laugh, and throw insults, but all the while we know just how much he just pisses you off; and we love it!

Cheers!

Posted by: Mike at January 12, 2005 11:11 PM

Mork - I think you have it exactly backwards. I think that a few years ago very few people would have considered that religious ideology could drive the kind of terrorism we've seen. It seems almost preposterous. After all, from the western point of view such thinking more or less went out with the Crusades. You seem too willing to err on the side of underestimating the contribution of religious ideology to terrorism in the face of a lot of evidence to the contrary.

“Incidentally, is it not typical of human nature that an ideologue will automatically assume that others are also motivated primarily by ideology”

You may be projecting here. I believe political correctness qualifies as an ideology, doesn’t it?

Posted by: Caroline at January 12, 2005 11:23 PM

That's ok Benjamin, you can laugh all you want, but just remember this; I'm a spiteful, vindictive prick and because of this I derive sincere pleasure from the fact that virtually every word uttered by GWB grates against your every nerve. You can whine, cry, laugh, and throw insults, but all the while we know just how much he just pisses you off; and we love it!

LOL!

Posted by: Benjamin at January 13, 2005 12:31 AM

I believe political correctness qualifies as an ideology, doesn’t it?

LOL! Er.... wrong. Whatever the rights and wrongs of 'political correctness' it does not count as an ideology.

Mork is right to see Michael as pretty ideological - or at least not recognising the rigidities of his own thinking.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 13, 2005 12:36 AM

Let's see....Michael's recent posts before this one, in reverse order:
(1) blog-meters;
(2) North Korean style restrictions;
(3) the CIA and Bin Laden;
(4) situation in Iraq;
(5) Michael Savage is a jerk;
(6) tinfoil-hat tsunami conspiracy theories;
(7) torture is bad;
(8) Gonzales sucks;
(9) Michael's trip to Libya;
(10) Iraqi bomber beaten; and
(11) tsunami aid amounts.

Geez, Michael! Would you PLEASE stop this obsessive "repetition of themes"!

Posted by: jeremy in NYC at January 13, 2005 12:52 AM

It is best not to feed the Benji.

He is a serial commentator who haunts UK blogs impressing us with his ability to know nothing about everything.

His political stance merely consists of accusing people of themes, prompting the usual fashionable conspiracy theories, or saying blogs focus on one issue more than another. Whether that issue is relevant or not is irrelevant to Benji, because everything is irrelevant to him. It is all, as he says, a bit of a storm in a teacup. Above all, he has a complete inability to form a coherent argument, his modus operandi being to mouth the words of others, or spot meaningless rhetoric that he thinks is "right on". His postings have one real point, to focus attention on him.

Don't insult the left wing by suggesting Benji is part of it.

Donny: Are these the Nazis, Walter?

Walter Sobchak: No, Donny, these men are nihilists. There's nothing to be afraid of.

The Big Lebowski.

Posted by: Eric the Unread at January 13, 2005 02:26 AM

Benjamin, please tell us all exactly what political beliefs motivated the 9-11 hijackers. Please specify where/how/when these boys gaiined their political insights and how they hoped their actions would advance their cause.

Im really curious what your answer is.

Posted by: SEAN at January 13, 2005 02:35 AM

If fornication is so evil that it merits Allah's severe punishment, then how to explain that the Islamic concept of heaven consists in precisely that (the 72 virgins)? That would be like Christians positing that everyone in heaven gets to murder 72 people.

I think you'll find its 72 white raisins, the Christians get After Eight mints.

Posted by: Ian at January 13, 2005 03:21 AM

I would only 10% miss mostly silly ideologically PC Mork, but he does say some important things sometimes.
the refusal to question the convenient assumptions and look logically and factually at the causes of terrorism and at America's interests has real and dangerous consequences.

I think Michael has looked more logically and factually (yet with much NF feeling), at the causes of terrorism than anybody on the web. This has been my opinion since his Dec 02 (?) article about why Liberals should support Bush's War (FrontPage).

I can't recall Mork ever doing so; nor Kerry nor any Dem in the last year.

The root cause of nuke-threatening terrorism is Islamofascism, the main cause of which is a LACK of democracy and human rights in Arab Islamic countries.

Like so many PC lightweights, Mork asks the right question, disagrees with Michael's answer (implicitly), yet fails to answer his own question. Of course, it's easier to snark about others' answers, without providing one's own. And more questions are NOT answers. A series of: do you mean you support this imperfection? are you calling that mistake good? why not condemn this blunder, and the whole US DoD? -- sophomoric snark. Or snork. Or Mork.

Michael, thanks for the huge insight on Muslims believing the US practices wife swapping. On Christmas. It makes me want to read the Elders of Zion crap, to know what the Arab codephrases against the Jews might be.

It also reminds me of how the Muslim pro-life people are often the best allies of Christian pro-life people at various pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-religion UN and EU conferences. It is highly unlikely that the early Iraq constitution will have more support for abortion or gays than the US had before the 64 Civil Rights act.

I consider toleration of an inferior lifestyle choice the middle ground between demonization of gays (religious fundamentalists), and promotion of homosexuality (secular fundamentalists). (Like Michael, at times.)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 13, 2005 05:01 AM

Speaking of the Big Lebowski, I recently saw it again and thought that Goodman's Walter Sobchak is just how I see the Bush administration: stubborn and arrogantly self-confident and just about always wrong (not mention never learning from experience).

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 13, 2005 05:04 AM

And I know my posts are too long -- because I practice giving my answers to important questions. And answers are usually longer, and more boring, and zzzz aren't you sleeping yet? (Have a good trip, MJT)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 13, 2005 05:04 AM

What if Bush is stubborn and arrogant -- but right on the big issue of exporting democracy?

(The anti-democrats will call him wrong; AND insult him. The pro-democracy folk will be mostly supporting him, with all his faults, because he has the right strategy. Which is how I see the dialogue going. And when Sully thinks Bush is wrong on the FMA, he switches from support to flames. Because he's gay. Yet Bush won the election on Moral Values.)

Afghanistan democracy seems to be far more successful than M. Farris considers. I'm pretty sure when majoritarian Shi'a Iraqis dominate an elected Iraq gov't, democracy will be taking root in Iraq. The anti-democratic Death Squads are just making any implementation of human rights (= reduced gov't power) even harder.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 13, 2005 05:11 AM

"LOL! Er.... wrong. Whatever the rights and wrongs of 'political correctness' it does not count as an ideology" (Benjamin)

I think thats probably open to debate.

From http://www.academia.org/lectures/lind1.html

“Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. ….Economic Marxism says that all of history is determined by ownership of means of production. Cultural Marxism, or Political Correctness, says that all history is determined by power, by which groups defined in terms of race, sex, etc., have power over which other groups.”

To Ian - I have heard that before about the raisins. I myself am extremely fond of yogurt covered raisins and have been known to say on occasion, "Mmmm - these raisins are to DIE for!" Regarding the 72 virgins, however, I wonder what they've been promising the women all these years? I hope not 72 male virgins - although that might explain the relative lack of enthusiasm for martyrdom among females..

Posted by: Caroline at January 13, 2005 05:12 AM

It's up on Andrew Sullivan, for anyone who cares. I agree with his conclusion.

Nice punt Mork. It took Andrew "gay is everything" Sullivan an entire essay to explain why Bush's quote is "proof" that he believes only christians are qualified to be president. And Sullivan's reasoning is so contorted and forced that I can understand why you punted rather than try to back up your petty slander here. You gotta wonder about your beliefs Mork when you have to abandon all intellectual honesty to maintain them.

Posted by: David at January 13, 2005 05:48 AM

What the US should do is publicize this moronic Saudi's comments in Indonesia. I would hope that many potential Wahabi converts would have second thoughts about following a man who apparently believes Allah would wipe 100,000 devout muslims in Aceh, as well as many thousands in Sri Lanka, off the face of the earth simply to punish several thousand Thais and Europeans for indulging in vices that the Saudi Royalty family specialize in. What kind of twisted theological hoops must you jump through before that can possibly make sense?

Posted by: Vanya at January 13, 2005 06:53 AM

"What if Bush is stubborn and arrogant -- but right on the big issue of exporting democracy?"

Democracy is not a product, it can't be exported or imposed at the end of a gun, it can be nurtured and supported, but the basic impetus has to be home grown.

"Yet Bush won the election on Moral Values."

What is moral about FMA?? It's highly immoral from my viewpoint, as bad as reinstituting anti-miscegnegation laws would be.

"Afghanistan democracy seems to be far more successful than M. Farris considers."

Kabul is a moderate success, the rest of the country is warlord territory.

"I'm pretty sure when majoritarian Shi'a Iraqis dominate an elected Iraq gov't, democracy will be taking root in Iraq."

We'll see. I hope for a peaceful election and widespread acceptance of the results, whatever they may be.

A co delate w Slovenksu? Ja zyjem v Polsku (v Poznaniu na zapade kraji). (I don't know Slovak so I'm relying on garbled Czech with a touch of Polish).

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 13, 2005 06:54 AM

What the US should do is publicize this moronic Saudi's comments in Indonesia. I would hope that many potential Wahabi converts would have second thoughts about following a man who apparently believes Allah would wipe 100,000 devout muslims in Aceh, as well as many thousands in Sri Lanka, off the face of the earth simply to punish several thousand Thais and Europeans for indulging in vices that the Saudi Royalty family specialize in. What kind of twisted theological hoops must you jump through before that can possibly make sense?

Interesting idea, but I doubt it would have any effect.

I saw a quote from some Buddist on the BBC that basically said, "Well, that island was overpopulated anyway" (I'm paraphrasing, but that was the tone).

People are going to believe what they want to believe. Sometimes education can mitigate the worst excesses, but not always.

A friend of mine described it as "You grow up, you pick a side, and then support it."

Pick a side.

Posted by: Eric Blair at January 13, 2005 07:35 AM

Michael -- I think that Schwartz's dad is Jewish, mother is not. Depending on who you ask, that makes him either a Jew, a half-Jew or a non-Jew.

I have been told by Muslims that the Koran talks about the life of Jesus and their version of his message at much greater length than it talks about the life of Muhammid. And Bin-Laden is looking forward to the second coming of Jesus and the end of time just as eagerly as Jerry Falwell is.

So the tale about orgies in the west during the Christmas holidays is probably motivated by hostility to secularism, and the west's perceived embrace of it, rather than hostility to Christianity. It really sounds like just an exaggerated version of something that Bob Jones or Falwell would say.

Posted by: Markus rose at January 13, 2005 08:01 AM

Benjamin - The British govt capable of profound acts of idiocy? You betcha! Just like the American govt.

The Wahhabis are off the hook now though.

Huh? Yeah, like David Duke is off the hook for being a Nazi. Thanks for answering the question. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

Thanks Eric, for the Benji analysis. Say what you want about the tenets of the Leftism, at least it’s an ethos

Posted by: mary at January 13, 2005 08:07 AM

Democracy is not a product, it can't be exported or imposed at the end of a gun, it can be nurtured and supported, but the basic impetus has to be home grown.

Michael Farris:

Tell that to the Germans and the Japanese.

Posted by: David at January 13, 2005 08:08 AM

David -- regarding Michael Farris on democracy, and your counterpoint about Germany and Japan: both of these countries, unlike today's Iraq, were culturally homogenous. Their boundaries were natural, not artificial, and their peoples had historical, cultural, linguistic and religious ties going back hundreds or thousands of years. Not much of this exists in Iraq.

Turkey shows that democracy and the separation of mosque and state are possible in a country that is 99.9% Muslim. The reason that Attaturk was able to get his people to move in this direction, however, was because they knew and trusted him as one of their own. He was first and foremost a Turkish nationalist. He was one of them.

The November 2004 Washington Monthly had a great article, not online unfortunately, about the lessons that Turkey teaches about democracy building in the Arab world, and about the misunderstanding of those lessons that Bernard Lewis may have taught his neocon pupils in charge of Project Iraq.

Posted by: markus rose at January 13, 2005 08:39 AM

"How do we know that the ideology is in fact a driver at all, rather than a consequence of other forces - could there be something common to its adherents that attracts them to it to explain what they would have felt anyway?"

If ideology isn't the driver, I'd like to know exactly what other motivation makes sense in the case of suicide attacks.

Posted by: Mark Poling at January 13, 2005 08:43 AM

About the comparison of the Germans and the Japanese to Iraq - the Marshall plan wouldn't have worked if those nations, and their neighbors, were still under the influence of a growing and powerful fascist movement. Iraq is surrounded, and filled, with Islamists who oppose democracy and equal rights, in any form.

Posted by: mary at January 13, 2005 09:01 AM

Posted by Benjamin at January 13, 2005 12:36 AM

>>I believe political correctness qualifies as an
>> ideology, doesn’t it?

> LOL! Er.... wrong. Whatever the rights and
> wrongs of 'political correctness' it does not
> count as an ideology.

It's definitely an offshoot of ideology. There are some books about its history and it was started by the feminists and spread to other group rights ideologies.

As to what constitutes an 'ideologue', my rule of thumb is that you are one (as opposed to a moderate or a centrist) when you actually convince yourself that people 'on the other side' want to make the world worse.

Posted by: Thomas at January 13, 2005 09:07 AM

Caroline said "I think that a few years ago very few people would have considered that religious ideology could drive the kind of terrorism we've seen.

Well, unless you lived in Northern Ireland or the Middle East or watched the news about those places. ;-)

Mark wondered "If ideology isn't the driver, I'd like to know exactly what other motivation makes sense in the case of suicide attacks."

Dogma ;-) which is ideology thats gone past the point of rational thought.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 13, 2005 09:09 AM

Posted by Caroline at January 13, 2005 05:12 AM

“Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. ….Economic Marxism says that all of history is determined by ownership of means of production. Cultural Marxism, or Political Correctness, says that all history is determined by power, by which groups defined in terms of race, sex, etc., have power over which other groups.”

Power is an extra step, 'the system' creates the personalities... of course, 'the system' is maintained by power and (to a Marxists) would need to be overthrown by a greater power (workers with guns)....

What is fun though, once you reduce Marxism to power and group rights, how similar it becomes to Fascism... The Nazis, of course, believed in group rights over equal rights (re: liberalism).

Posted by: Thomas at January 13, 2005 09:20 AM

Caroline: Political Correctness is cultural Marxism

Political Correctness knows no particular political ideology. For example, notice how some people's political meters jump when the media refers to a terrorist as an insurgent, or refer to the War in Iraq as the Iraq Invasion. Not much different from left-wing political correctness, IMO.

Thomas: What is fun though, once you reduce Marxism to power and group rights, how similar it becomes to Fascism.

But that's two-dimensional political analysis. It's like saying that if you ignore hue, black and blue are similar.

Additionally, there are no instances of democratic fascism, while there have been democractic instances of Marxist governments. Me, I'm generally suspicious of Marxist ideology because it so often leads to a concentration of power in the hands or government or party bureaucrats, but it's quite dissimilar to fascism. Unless you leave out a lot of stuff in the comparison, that is.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 13, 2005 09:31 AM

Coined by Norman Podhoretz I do believe, grandfather of neo-conservatism. Transformed Commentary into a neo-conservative journal, father of John Podhoretz, of the Murdoch owned New York Post. His son-in-law, Elliot Abrams, was convicted of lying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal (but of course now serves as a top aide on the Middle East for Dubya.)

Methinks I do detect an ad hominem argument not so subtly coupled with a bit of guilt by association. Don't you see old boy, the facts don't matter. You are wrong because the wrong people might agree with you.

Let me try it, "I don't think that water is wet. After all, BushHitler thinks that water is wet."

Posted by: JBP at January 13, 2005 09:39 AM

Thomas: "What is fun though, once you reduce Marxism to power and group rights, how similar it becomes to Fascism... The Nazis, of course, believed in group rights over equal rights (re: liberalism)."

From http://www.users.bigpond.com/smartboard/pc.htm

"The Inevitable Result Of Political Correctness:
By using the excuse of not upsetting anyone, the politically correct are demanding that people behave like the fool who would please everyone; that everyone must become such a fool! All must accept the notions of the Politically Correct as truth, or else! This is the same mentality that inspired the Inquisition and forced Galileo to recant; the same mentality that inspired the Nazis and obtained the Holocaust. Once expression gets placed in a straitjacket of official truth, then the madness that occurs in all totalitarian states is obtained. Life, in private and public, becomes a meaningless charade where delusion thrives and terror rules. "

Hyperbole perhaps but the politically correct hate speech laws against criticizing Islam that are starting to take hold in Britain and Australia - are playing right into the hands of Islamists. I for one am extremely concerned about it and consider political correctness public enemy number 1.

Posted by: Caroline at January 13, 2005 09:45 AM

Caroline,

"This is the same mentality that inspired the Inquisition and forced Galileo to recant; the same mentality that inspired the Nazis and obtained the Holocaust."

I agree. Politcial Correctness creates a baseline of thought/speech control. There are things that are not polite to say in public. There are words and values that have little redeeming value except to promote bigotry. However, this is a free country, people are expected to take Personal Responsibility for their thoughts, words and deeds. Political Correctness seems to be an aspect of a "wash your mouth out with soap" nanny-state.

Of course, I also think that if you call someone a nigger or fag (etc), they have every right to punch you in the face. After all, personal responsibility includes accepting the consequences of your actions.

Of course, I could be wrong,

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 13, 2005 10:05 AM

David -- regarding Michael Farris on democracy, and your counterpoint about Germany and Japan: both of these countries, unlike today's Iraq, were culturally homogenous.

Markus,

yeah yeah yeah. We've heard it before Marcus. But Michael said said democracy can't be exported or imposed, and he was wrong. He didn't care to qualify that. He made a statement of principle, and history proves him wrong.

Re Iraq, if your point is that it may be more difficult, then I agree. But difficult is not impossible, nor is it against any "principle" that democracy can't/shouldn't be exported/imposed.

Posted by: David at January 13, 2005 10:20 AM

David: Re Iraq, if your point is that it may be more difficult, then I agree. But difficult is not impossible, nor is it against any "principle" that democracy can't/shouldn't be exported/imposed.

It's also not impossible for you to juggle sharp hunting knives, nor does it against any "principle" that you can do it safely. Whether you should do it is another matter.

Lest this be considered snarky, let me reiterate that I'd be surprised and delighted should democracy take hold in Iraq in the near future. But at this point, it's like planting seeds on concrete and hoping they'll take root. Pretty damned unlikely.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 13, 2005 10:28 AM

It probably would have been extremely rude of me, but after answering with an emphatic NO to his question about the rumor, I would have then asked him if the rumors were true that ALL Libyan men fuck sheep, goats and camels...

Posted by: cardeblu at January 13, 2005 10:32 AM

David,

We bombed Japan with 2 nuclear warheads. We dismantled their entire army, completely demoralized their citizens and occupied the nation for quite some time.

The post-WWII democracy in Germany was the third attempt at German democracy. On July 31, 1919 the National Assembly declared the constitution of the German nation and became a democratic parliamentary republic (which later elected Hitler, who grabbed power and began WWII (so much for democracies preventing attacks other nations)).

We could have made the Japaneese all wear clown shoes and they would have capitulated. The Germans already had democracy and were familar with the ideology. Iraq is not submissive (nor do I think it would be if we nuked them), Iraq has never had a democracy, nor tried for one. Germany and Japan were, for the most part a homogenous society, Iraq is not.

It is not impossible to 'export' democracy, but it has yet to be successful in any but the most extreme circumstances.

I think that the Shiites and Kurds do want some form of government, quite probably some form of a democratic government. However, I think that they will have to earn that freedom, likely with a civil war. If reports are to be believed, US Intelligence now says that the insurgency is mostly Sunni, led by Baathists, funded by money which Saddam swiped from the treasury before the fall of Baghdad.

We may well see a bloody civil and ethnic/sectarian war before we see true democracy in Iraq. Then, I would argue, the Iraqis earned their democracy, they didn't just accept an export.

Besides, freedom is a pretty big responsibility. The maintainence of freedom, the vigillence required by every citizen, that's heavy stuff. It may well be better for that sort of thing to be earned instead of gifted.

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 13, 2005 10:44 AM
ALL Libyan men f*ck sheep, goats and camels

I think we all know that isn't true. MJT seems to imply that Secret Santa Wife Swapping honestly believed to be a Chrsitmas Tradition there.

Posted by: Bill at January 13, 2005 10:45 AM

"Of course, I also think that if you call someone a nigger or fag (etc), they have every right to punch you in the face. After all, personal responsibility includes accepting the consequences of your actions." (Tosk)

Agreed. But this is where things get scary:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16389

"Two Christian pastors in Australia have been found guilty of religious vilification of Muslims. The decision threatens us all......"

Posted by: Caroline at January 13, 2005 10:48 AM

Bill, even though you seemed to have missed my point, I doubt Michael's guide would have, i.e., both rumors are extremely insulting.

Posted by: cardeblu at January 13, 2005 10:49 AM

"MJT seems to imply that Secret Santa Wife Swapping honestly believed to be a Chrsitmas Tradition there."(Bill)

But Muslim men are already allowed up to 4 wives plus any number of temporary marriages lasting an hour to a week or however long they desire. So swapping wives can't be all that shocking. It must be the women swapping husbands that causes offense!

Posted by: Caroline at January 13, 2005 10:53 AM

Caroline,

Well, thats Austraila. They're not exactly a glorious example of democracy, and I'm not fond of many of their governments stances. When this happens in the US, I'll get concerned.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 13, 2005 10:55 AM

Democracy will succeed in Iraq, because it will empower the heretofore oppressed majority - the shiites. Two senior aides of Sistani were murdered today, and Sistani urged calm and restraint, because he wants democracy to work, and doesn't want to play into the hands of the undemocratic extremists. Maybe it will work in the new Palestinian administration. One has to be optimistic. As Graham Greene said, cynicism is easy. It's always woven into the cheapest goods.

Re The Big Lebowski, Walter Sobchak is a wonderful metaphor for America. America is, and always has been on the side of right, even when it was stupid and screwed up, so throw bowling balls first and ask questions later. And let all the pseudo-intellectual schmucks be damned...

Posted by: MarkC at January 13, 2005 11:06 AM

Sistani urged calm and restraint, because he wants democracy to work, and doesn't want to play into the hands of the undemocratic extremists.

Sistani is also looking forward to a Shiite majority in government. I may be penalized some points for mindreading, but I suspect that may be higher in the list of what he wants, somewhere above "love of democratic principles."

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 13, 2005 11:16 AM

Michael, you Willamette Valley types are obviously unfamiliar with Southern Oregon traditions :)

Posted by: Nathan at January 13, 2005 11:19 AM

Uh, MarkC, did you miss the memo noting that "Democracy" is not majority rule, or majority consent. Hitler had the latter, for instance. Don't forget those little inalienables, like minority and individual rights, and a free press. The Shiites want power, and they're going to get it on January 31. Then we'll have a chance to find out if they want how they feel about democracy, and the federalism that it demands in a "country" like Iraq.

Its fun to skewer the idiocies of western leftist and islamist reactionaries, but it would be more productive to ponder what our stand should be on the question of whether seats should be set aside for sunnis in the new Parliament for the areas in which elections are too dangerous to hold.

That said, your comments about cynicism and hope are right on.

Posted by: Markus Rose at January 13, 2005 11:20 AM

Re The Big Lebowski, Walter Sobchak is a wonderful metaphor for America. America is, and always has been on the side of right, even when it was stupid and screwed up, so throw bowling balls first and ask questions later. And let all the pseudo-intellectual schmucks be damned...

Must. find. strength. to not. use metaphor of. peeing. on the wrong. fucking. carpet.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 13, 2005 11:21 AM

++ug

minreading -5
too many periods -5

All the dude wanted was his rug back.

Posted by: d-rod at January 13, 2005 11:45 AM

Markus: "Turkey shows that democracy and the separation of mosque and state are possible in a country that is 99.9% Muslim."

In Turkey, that separation is enforced by the military stepping in whenever the results of the democratic process stray from or violate it.

Posted by: Achillea at January 13, 2005 11:50 AM

Methinks I do detect an ad hominem argument not so subtly coupled with a bit of guilt by association. Don't you see old boy, the facts don't matter. You are wrong because the wrong people might agree with you.

JBP: You got it on the nose. Benjamin has been posting content-free sneers. It's impossible to argue against a man who doesn't bother with logic or arguement in the first place.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at January 13, 2005 01:17 PM

The funniest thing about this is that all it takes to confirm a Saudi's worst suspicion is to turn on the radio around Christmas when it's playing "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus!"

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at January 13, 2005 01:20 PM
The funniest thing about this is that all it takes to confirm a Saudi's worst suspicion is to turn on the radio around Christmas when it's playing "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus!"
Or the parody version where Daddy Kisses, Wrestles, etc. Santa Claus (it was really Mommy in Disguise but there is only so much even a WASP can take of that song, let alone an Islamiscist or day-to-day Muslim). Posted by: Bill at January 13, 2005 02:46 PM

Tosk: "Well, thats Austraila. They're not exactly a glorious example of democracy, and I'm not fond of many of their governments stances. When this happens in the US, I'll get concerned."

More from an article about PC that I cited earlier:

http://www.academia.org/lectures/lind1.html

"In conclusion, America today is in the throws of the greatest and direst transformation in its history. We are becoming an ideological state, a country with an official state ideology enforced by the power of the state. In "hate crimes" we now have people serving jail sentences for political thoughts. And the Congress is now moving to expand that category ever further. Affirmative action is part of it. The terror against anyone who dissents from Political Correctness on campus is part of it. It’s exactly what we have seen happen in Russia, in Germany, in Italy, in China, and now it’s coming here. And we don’t recognize it because we call it Political Correctness and laugh it off. My message today is that it’s not funny, it’s here, it’s growing and it will eventually destroy, as it seeks to destroy, everything that we have ever defined as our freedom and our culture."

I report - you decide....

Posted by: Caroline at January 13, 2005 03:16 PM

Seems a bit on the tin-foli-hat side of the spectrum, Caroline. Besides, how academic is that "lecture" anyway? The author confuses "throes" and "throws". Geesh.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 13, 2005 03:26 PM

And, following the usual standard of the way things work in the universe, I proceed to confuse "foil" with "foli".

Hmmph. Fire away.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 13, 2005 03:27 PM

"Seems a bit on the tin-foli-hat side of the spectrum, Caroline. Besides, how academic is that "lecture" anyway? The author confuses "throes" and "throws". Geesh"

See that's the thing about lefties - always confusing style with substance. It's the difference between Kerry and Bush. I must admit that pedigree don't matter much to me. I can understand if it seems a tad bit alarmist but I think slight alarmism is in order right now - in order to counter it's opposite - would that be complacency? In any case, I think the stakes are very high and perhaps warrant some degree of acute attention, espcially given the fact that history seems to be accelerating very very rapidly. I do appreciate the sentiment, however, and will be more than happy to put on that tin-foil hat if history proves me wrong...

Posted by: Caroline at January 13, 2005 03:54 PM

These attitudes not just coming from overseas muslims. You can find them right here at home. Check out the transcript of a recent discussion about god and the tsunami on scarborough (it's about halfway down the page):

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6790691/

Posted by: Andrew at January 13, 2005 05:19 PM

Caroline,

The lecture you site is sooo five years ago. Left-wing PC ideology was getting out control once upon a time, but 9/11 seemed to cut it off at the knees.

Consider this essay on threats to freedom, it is more current: (by Llewellyn Rockwell, a libertarian.)

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/red-state-fascism.html

(sorry you have to cut&paste, I don't how to create a link)

Posted by: sivert at January 13, 2005 05:39 PM

Glad to see that "Eric the Unread" seems to think he knows so much about me.

Good olde England, with its contantly battling "left" throwing pies at each other.

Enough already. And yeah, I comment on Harry's Place, run by a member of the British liberal left, whose inflated deluions it's diverting to puncture at times.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 13, 2005 09:57 PM

As for my comment regarding Norman Podhoretz, I did so because it contained information as to one of the source of much of Michael Totten's thinking, because Podheretz is one of the fathers of neo-conservatism.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 13, 2005 11:15 PM

Regarding Turkey as a "secular" democracy.

It's not really; "secularism" is an entirely Western construct coming out of Christianity; no good Muslim would ever think that the law can or should be something different than Sharia. Sharia is the perfect law, given from God; man cannot make law only interpret what God has given. This is one of the reasons anyway that Muslim societies either degenarate into Caliph-like strongmen, or religious kleptocracies.

What Turkey is lays more along the lines of modernism. Kemal Ataturk along with his supporters saw firsthand how the Sultan's Army got wiped out by the British at Megiddo (yes the Biblical Armeggedon) and decided to restructure Turkish society along modern, Western-ish lines. Hence the new Alphabet using roman characters not Arabic script (or Cyrillic for that matter). Development of Modernism and using the Army as the "guarantor" or Turkey's "modernist patrimony." But that's not secularism, more like modernism in the patriotic militarist sense.

Michael's posting about the ludicrous views of many Muslims shows how isolated and culturally deprived Muslim societies are. It wasn't always so; but something happened to cause Muslims societies to sit like insects trapped in amber while Western societies changed. The ignorance is shocking; and suggestive of how resistant their societies are to modernism.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 13, 2005 11:49 PM

For serious pollitical analysis don't miss Benjamin's Blog.

Posted by: sybil at January 14, 2005 12:29 AM

Dave: But Michael said said democracy can't be exported or imposed, and he was wrong. He didn't care to qualify that. He made a statement of principle, and history proves him wrong.

Dave, I love you, guy (don't get creeped out, I just like the way you keep rubbing Totten's nose in the messy reality of who he's alligned himself with) but,

Japan and Germany were rapidly evolving civil societies that took really bad turns (part of a worldwide turn toward strongman rule in the wake of WWI). The US post WWII contribution was mainly getting them onto a more productive track. That was a great thing, but the Germans and Japanese did the real heavy lifting.

Qualifier, elections are a good indicator but not the defining one for what I think of as far more important, the concept of a civil society (which I'm not going to define right now, beyond saying that it's what you find in varying degrees of strength in Central and Western Europe, NAMerica and a few places in Asia. It's largely or entirely absent in LAmerica, Africa and big swatches of Asia where (extended)-family-based societies prevail.)

No Arab country has much of anything resembling a civil society. There are bits and pieces (strongest I think is modern Tunisia though the Levant and Iraq have some civil traditions) but overall the strength and pervasiveness of family, clan and religious obligations mean that Arabs have very little left use for a civil conscience. There are lots of historic, cultural and even linguistic reasons for this but the result is more important for our discussion here, in most Arab countries, most people are primarily concerned with achieving and protecting the welfare of a fairly narrow ingroup by any means available and deemed necessary and concepts like 'the good of society' or 'public order' are non-starters.

Again, elections in such a society are felt by many to be one more tool to use in the cause of furthering the wellbeing of one's ingroup (so you have elections determined by tribal or clan or religious identity rather than by issues that cut across those lines). Furthermore, in such a society there's no incentive (practical or otherwise) to accept an election result that goes against the interests of one's ingroup. Lots of Arab countries have had or occasionally have something sort of like an election, I know of no example of an incumbent accepting electoral defeat in an Arab country (this is the gold standard in civil society and a lot rarer than you many realize).

Iraq differs from Japan and Germany not just in quantitative ("it's harder to establish democracy") terms but in qualitative terms, that is the problem in Iraq is of a fundamentally different nature than in post WWII Japan or Germany.

You're welcome.

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 14, 2005 12:37 AM

Michael F., ja pracujem tu pretoze mam Slovenku zenu, aj tri deti (I work here because I have a Slovak wife and 3 kids).

The civil society issue is important; and your criteria of an incumbent accepting electoral defeat is REALLY good, but perhaps too extreme. My own idea was that a "real" democracy can be said to be in a country only after there has been at least two successive election victories of different leaders. Power has peacefully passed from one elected leader to another, at least twice. Elected Yeltsin to elected Putin is once. I'll call Russia is a real democracy after Putin's successor is elected.

But I usually focus on a Free Press -- the ability to disagree, in public, with the current gov't. This is fairly measurable, and societies that don't have it aren't real D-Democracies, even if they do have votes.

Ukraine is just barely getting it; Russia is going backwards a bit; Afghanistan is getting it; Iraq already DOES have free speech. Which is why I'm so optimistic about their real election -- though there may well be a rough, or very rough stage, when the democratically elected, Shi'a majority, has to take actions against the Sunni Death Squads.

And the Palis do NOT have it -- PA thugs stop most criticism of PA leader's actions and policy.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 14, 2005 02:53 AM

Sivert - thanks for the link:)

"We need to learn to recognize the many different guises in which tyranny appears."

Hard to argue with that but difficult to find a balance considering the kind of war we're fighting. Th author of this piece (with his Bushitler meme) doesn't really provide viable alternative solutions to the threats we face. I assume he would advocate eliminating the Patriot Act (couldn't they have come up with a less charged name for the darn thing?), the DHS, and would slash the military. OK. But then how does a libertarian deal with terrorism? If you take security out of the hands of the state don't you run the risk of the citizens taking matters into their own hands? In some online forums I have already come across people who are so disgusted by the lack of immigration control that they're talking about forming vigilante type groups to monitor the borders themselves!

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 03:39 AM

"Power has peacefully passed from one elected leader to another, at least twice."

I would just add that there needs to be a change in parties (or identifiable blocs within a party) somewhere, Mexico had how many years of "elections" all won by the same party?

"Elected Yeltsin to elected Putin is once. I'll call Russia is a real democracy after Putin's successor is elected."

Actually, it was elected Yeltsin to resigned Yeltsin and un-elected Putin, then elected Putin twice. No one in Poland that I know of took Yeltsin's "resignation" seriously. I think it was basically a very, quiet, orderly (almost Soviet-style) coup. We'll see what happens when (and if) Putin decides to have new elections.

"But I usually focus on a Free Press -- the ability to disagree, in public, with the current gov't. This is fairly measurable, and societies that don't have it aren't real D-Democracies, even if they do have votes."

Well a free press and a public arena for disagreements is obviously really, really important, it's a big step on the way. To the extent that the US occupation stays out of the local Iraqi press (except to prevent violence against non-popular opinions) they're doing good.

"Ukraine is just barely getting it; Russia is going backwards a bit"

For everything wrong with it (about which many books can be written) the Soviet period was in many ways, as close to civil society as Russians have ever had. At present they've stopped moving backwards and are I think essentially getting back to a relatively non-expansionist Soviet style government after a period of anarchy mafia-rule. The tragedy of Russia is that again and again and again, they reach for the fruits of democracy and civil society without being willing to put in the work required to achieve and maintain a civil society in the first place.
Ukraine is getting it slowly in fits and starts (the Yuschenko/Yanukovich showdown wasn't quite as black and white as portrayed in some places [what is?] but the right guy did finally win and that's an important step. We'll see what happens next.
IIRC Slovakia itself flirted with the darkside for a few years of the Meciar presidency before coming to its senses and realizing that its interests lied more to the west than to the east.

"Afghanistan is getting it; Iraq already DOES have free speech. Which is why I'm so optimistic about their real election -- though there may well be a rough, or very rough stage, when the democratically elected, Shi'a majority, has to take actions against the Sunni Death Squads."

Again, I'd hesitate to posit much of anything outside of Kabul, though establishing even just one city with post medieval values there is a big, important step all things considered.
In Iraq, everyone is talking about the election in terms of religious/ethnic identity. Until there are issues that don't coincide with religious/ethnic lines, it will be hard to call Iraq a democracy, even if there are elections.
I'm vaguely optimistic about Iraq (partly because of some Iraqis I know who are) but not in the conventional way.

"And the Palis do NOT have it -- PA thugs stop most criticism of PA leader's actions and policy."

Agreed. Arafat is actually a very good example of a pre-civil society leader. Despite some public rhetoric to the contrary, he consistently looked out for the interests of his extended family and dependents to the exclusion of all else including to the detriment of his society as a whole. Everything he did makes perfect sense if you look at him that way. Some European and American fools managed to not notice it, but essentially he was just another tinhorn caudillo and anything he (or his successor) run will just be a date-palm republic with rampant corruption, political violence and jingoistic posturing.

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 14, 2005 03:45 AM

Dave, I love you, guy (don't get creeped out, I just like the way you keep rubbing Totten's nose in the messy reality of who he's alligned himself with)

Mr. Farris,

I'm not creeped out you homophobe. I tell my guy friends I love them all the time. Re Totten aligning himself with neocons such as myself, I'd prefer he speak for himself. But even if true, it beats aligning himself (and I'm sure Totten would agree) with the folks you Lefties are in bed with. So what choice does he have? You and Benji have been turned into virtual jihadis by your all-ecompassing hatred of "Bush". But they'd as soon cut your head off as mine, and Totten knows that, even if you don't.

Re Iraq and how impossible it is vs post-war Germany, yada yada yada. Smarter people than you are making the exact opposite argument and I'm too bored with it to gooogle it for you.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 05:44 AM

David,
" Smarter people than you are making the exact opposite argument "

Are those the same 'Smarter' people that were making arguments for Weapons of MAss Destruction? Or were they the ones who were making arguments that we were fighting mainly forgin 'jihadists', instead of Sunni insurgents?

Many smart people have been making smart arguments for the past two years. It's hard to keep track of which ones are outright fabrications (*cough*F/911*cough*) or based on flawed intelligence(*cough*WMD*cough*), that I feel much more comfortable with my own perceptions. If I'm wrong, at least I won't feel like a patsy, ready to believe the next piece of tripe handed out by Smart People.

Of course, I could be wrong,

Toskie

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 14, 2005 07:01 AM

You and Benji have been turned into virtual jihadis by your all-ecompassing hatred of "Bush".

"Virtual jihadi"

LOL!

Posted by: Benjamin at January 14, 2005 07:39 AM

It's always fun to pop in here for a dose of crazy political hyperbole!

Posted by: Benjamin at January 14, 2005 07:42 AM

"It's always fun to pop in here for a dose of crazy political hyperbole!"

Yeah, Dave is just so darn cute when he's mad, you just want to pinch his cheeks and tell him everything will be okay.

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 14, 2005 07:56 AM

Are those the same 'Smarter' people that were making arguments for Weapons of MAss Destruction?

Tosk,

and the vast majority of Iraqis are making the pro-democracy argument too, and will be risking their lives at the ballot box in a few days for it. I support them; Farris and Benji support the bomb-throwers. That's how much they're consumed by hate.

They deny it of course, and in their next breath they say Iraqis don't want democracy. It's being "imposed." Their double-talk is to glaring not to notice.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 08:07 AM

See that's the thing about lefties - always confusing style with substance.

See, that's the thing about righties - always making cartoon-character generalizations about people they don't agree with.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 08:32 AM

Some of these clowns think if they shake hands with an infidel, their penis will fall off.
We really need to see these bozos with nukes.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at January 14, 2005 08:37 AM

and the vast majority of Iraqis are making the pro-democracy argument too, and will be risking their lives at the ballot box in a few days for it. I support them; Farris and Benji support the bomb-throwers. That's how much they're consumed by hate.

David,

Well, only you know your perceptions about Farris and Benji, but thats a different argument. We were (I thought) discussing the export of democracy... To recap, you made the supposition that Japan and Germany were both good examples of exported democracy succeeding. A few people pointed out some pretty heavy differences between Germany and Japan versus Iraq. Your response was that Smarter people were making the opposite argument. I responded that Samrt people have made many arguments about the current situation and were dead wrong. Smart people argued that we'd be welcomed as heros, smart people argued that we'd find WMD's, Smart people argued that it was The War On Terror, not a War with Insurgents (remember how some on this and Roger's board got pissy if you called the attackers 'insurgets' instead of 'terrorists'). Simply stating that 'smart' people are making arguments for something, doesn't seem to mean much at this point.

Some of the Iraqi people are very excited to vote, and thats great. Some of the Iraqi people are not at all excited to vote and are going to spend election day hiding in Jordan, because they fear the consequences. Some Iraqis are very excited to shoot the people who vote. I would suggest that while we are ALL hopeful that Iraqis find freedom and democracy, some of us are not willing to just shout "Hell Yeah, America Kicks Ass!" and not look at the facts on the ground.

Democracy may be possible in Iraq, only time will tell. There is not yet evidence to support success, only progress.

In the words of Irreverend Hugh, KSC:

Those on the left will get crushed by those on the right. Those on the right will get crushed by those on the left. Those in the middle will get crushed by both sides. Meanwhile those on the top will reap the profits and will not include the rest of us in their feasts. Truly, the need for the apple of discord is great.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 14, 2005 09:00 AM

I responded that Samrt people have made many arguments about the current situation and were dead wrong.

Tosk,

no. they aren't dead wrong. And that is evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of Iraqis want to vote.

You think the bomb-throwers represent the popular will, thus your conclusion that they are "dead wrong." But it's you who is dead wrong.

There are only two sides in this struggle. Truly, in Iraq if you are not for democracy, you are for the terrorists.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 09:21 AM

You think the bomb-throwers represent the popular will, thus your conclusion that they are "dead wrong." But it's you who is dead wrong.

Maybe I haven't had enough coffee yet, but where did Rat say that?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 09:27 AM

Pardon-moi DPU - that should have been:

See that's the thing about lefties - always confusing style with substance :-)

Very important not to forget that smiley face!

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 09:29 AM

Ah. Okay, backatcha :-), and apologies for not picking up on it.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 09:31 AM

no. they aren't dead wrong. And that is evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of Iraqis want to vote.

I believe that I said the people who argued that WMD's were in Iraq and that the insurgency was sponsered by AlQeada, were wrong. The government now says that we apparently had faulty intel on WMD's and on the makeup of the insurgency. Smart People made arguments that were wrong. Therefore, I'm not impressed by Smart People making arguments that democracy is a sure thing (or even that its likely to be successful). Smart People have been quite qrong on several things since this began.

You think the bomb-throwers represent the popular will, thus your conclusion that they are "dead wrong." But it's you who is dead wrong.

No, I don't think they represent the popular will. I think they may represent the popular Sunni will, but not the Shiite or Kurdish will. The potential for Civil War in this situation seems to be growing by the day.

There are only two sides in this struggle. Truly, in Iraq if you are not for democracy, you are for the terrorists.

Actually, based on recent statements by US Intelligence it seems that the two sides in this struggle are for a Shiite/Krudish/Sunni democratic government or for a return to the Baathist controlled Sunni government.

I am not supporting a Sunni government, I am not supporting a return to a non-democratic Iraq. I am not 'for the terrorists' I do not believe that the insurgents represent the majority. I do believe that many of the "Smart People" who keep guessing at Iraq are either incredibly naive or somewhat deluded. Usually, when one is investigating something, the absence of evidence requires the investigator to re-examine their position. Evidence has never supported the case for WMD's, especially as we sifted through the sand for the past two years. Hans Blix was right and all those Smart People that argued against him... were wrong.

Does that clarify my position somewhat?

:)

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 14, 2005 09:59 AM

clear as mud. Which is exactly what we don't need right now.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 10:20 AM

For Benjamin,
Give us some "meat" in your comments on this topic. The comments you have written bring to mind a snotty nosed grade schooler.

There really are people and governments who do not allow thoughts and actions other than what is approved by "Great Leaders". A big lie is an "untruth" that is reported and becomes fact through ignoring it. Ohh, and don't you dare comeback with a snide comment about our government or the politics of the people who post thoughful comments.

Posted by: Gene at January 14, 2005 10:35 AM

"Which is exactly what we don't need right now."

Ah, I see. We don't need people to question, doubt or discuss... only praise and support.

Well, David, I like you but I sure am glad I don't live in your reality tunnel.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 14, 2005 11:16 AM

More on the PC horizon. At melaniephillips.com:

http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/

"This afternoon, I attended a meeting called by organisations supporting the government's proposed new law against incitement to religious hatred, which I believe threatens to suppress legitimate debate and criminalise people for simply telling the truth...Then I asked Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the MCB [Muslim Council of Britain],whether he thought that any public statements about Islamic terrorism, or any speculation about the number of Muslims in Britain who might support Islamic terrorism, would constitute incitement to religious hatred. He said: 'There is no such thing as an Islamic terrorist. This is deeply offensive. Saying Muslims are terrorists would be covered by this provision'."

Tell me the Brits cannot actually be insane enough to go down this path...

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 12:37 PM

Caroline,

I think that there are a number of competing ideologies involved here.

One the one hand, you have folks like myself (and I assume you as well) who believe that people should be free to say anything they want, as long as they're willing to take responsibility for what they say (You're free to yell fire in a theatre... but you will be responsible and likely have to spend time in jail). This seems to hold sway with Libretarians, centrists and some conservatives.

On the other hand, you have the PC fools who are pretty sure that talking and doing are the same. These people seem to labor under the popular neurological hallucination that "the word is the thing". It's the same ideology that drives the FCC to ban words like "d*ck" but allow penis, or ban f*ck and allow 'sexual intercourse'. This group seems to be seated with liberals and the 'socially conscious' (and reality un-conscious ;-)).

Next, we have the 'victim' ideology. These are the folks who feel threatened by what other people say. They tend to be all over the political spectrum, probably based on their proximity and association with the 'victim' group. Ergo, a Pagan Libretarian may feel like a victim if fundamentalist Christians shout rude things through megaphones at his cabal when they meet. I think 'Iqbal Sacranie' probably falls into this group. He may be against terrorists, but he doesn't want his ethnic group to be a 'victim' of 'hate speech'.

Finally, there is the ideology that labels are bad and titles like "Islamic terrorism" should be replaced with simply "terrorism".

Which ideology is right?

I know my reasoning for choosing the first one, but I may have chosen poorly.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 14, 2005 01:01 PM

I do not know if Shaykh Salih was shrieking about that particular ridiculous (bizarre) myth you mentioned (though he could have been). I suspect he was shrieking about all the westerners on vacation, enjoying the sea and probably also partying, etc. He would probably disapprove of just about anything western.

No matter what inspired his rant, it is totally disgusting to blame the tsunami on anyone.

Posted by: karrie at January 14, 2005 01:41 PM

Caroline,

You write that the "author of this piece (with his Bushitler meme) doesn't really provide viable alternative solutions to the threats we face. ... how does a libertarian deal with terrorism?"

Look, it is always going to be easier to fight any scourge to the state, be it terrorism, organized crime, drug lords, whatever, with more state power. How far are you willing to go? At what point do you lose the war for liberty precisely with your tactics that suppress freedom?

Everyone has their line; this administration went past mine with Gitmo, and has continued in a negative direction since.

I am not a true libertarian, but I want to believe if given a stark choice between security and liberty I would choose the latter. I know, philosophically, historically, it is the right choice. It is, however, not an easy choice.

Posted by: sivert at January 14, 2005 02:10 PM

I am not a true libertarian, but I want to believe if given a stark choice between security and liberty I would choose the latter.

Those are high-sounding words, but let's pluck them from the ether and apply them to reality. We've always sacrificed liberty for security, at least temporarily. (Not that I agree with you that jailing jihadis in Gitmo is a sacrifice of my liberty, and even the hysteria against the Patriot Act has failed to produce even one instance of its abuse.) We were a virtual police state during WWII, ie., lose lips sink ships and all that jazz.

Do you think someone jumping off one of the twin towers gaves a damn about high-sounding words? He wanted to live in a country where jihadis don't go around killing people at their leisure. That's what he gave a damn about.

Now, please consider that the above is only a statement of principle. It in no way is an admission to your premise that "gitmo" infringes/has infringed on my liberty. Being secure on our soil is a basic American and human liberty.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 02:27 PM

"One the one hand, you have folks like myself (and I assume you as well) who believe that people should be free to say anything they want, as long as they're willing to take responsibility for what they say"

yes - count me in that group. But not just "should" be free, rather "must" be free. Of course 'taking responsibility' should entail more words - cursing me, arguing with me or whatever - but not assaulting or killing me, or even slapping a lawsuit on me to silence my speech.

"It's the same ideology that drives the FCC to ban words like "d*ck" but allow penis, or ban f*ck and allow 'sexual intercourse'. This group seems to be seated with liberals and the 'socially conscious'"

I thought that was the conservatives. The libs loved Lenny Bruce. But I would favor the power of the pocketbook over lawsuits to solve that problem. Most people do not favor public discourse descending to the gutter. But mainly I think its just because people outgrow it. It just gets really dull when you've seen enough of it - sort of like porn films. This kind of thing will respond to negative social pressure. Just think back to what Brook Shields alone did for the anti-smoking cause.

"Next, we have the 'victim' ideology"

Yes, well eventually everyone is a victim. Given the current political climate Americans could perhaps lay claim to that label. We've seen millions of people all over the world marching and carrying signs calling us "imperialist pigs". Have we earned victim status yet? If the PC forces win out I might consider fighting it with lawsuits aimed at anti-American hate speech. I mean really - besides the Jews - who is more hated globally and the subject of more vitriole even in the main stream press?

"Finally, there is the ideology that labels are bad and titles like "Islamic terrorism" should be replaced with simply "terrorism"."

I strongly disagree on that point. I say, drop the "terrorism" part - not the part that truthfully identifies the folks who declared war on US! I will accept "jihadists" or "Islamic Holy Warriors" - but to make it illegal to identify the Islamic origins of the enemy who declared war on us - is not only completely insane - it's a lie by omission. But a lie nonetheless.

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 02:34 PM

Being secure on our soil is a basic American and human liberty.

"It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties which make the defense of our nation worthwhile. --Earl Warren

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 02:36 PM

Or...

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 02:38 PM

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

Nice words in the ether. But not during WWII.

It'd be nice to be able to get beyond the feel-good slogans. But I'm not holding my breath. I understand that blogging is all about saying the right words.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 02:52 PM

Some of these clowns think if they shake hands with an infidel, their penis will fall off.
Send them to a place far far away, to never never land. With casey jones driving that train.

Mike Spinelli
http://www.designkid.net

Posted by: Mike Spinelli at January 14, 2005 02:53 PM

It'd be nice to be able to get beyond the feel-good slogans.

You think those were just feel-good slogans?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 02:55 PM

You think those were just feel-good slogans?

Yeah, I do. Let me give you an example. I always roll my eyes, for instance, when people complain about surveillance cameras at intersections, as if they lose freedom because of that camera. It's silly. It's obvious to me they're just repeating what they've heard some other equally silly person say, but with their own personal sense of "outrage" added to it.

Little do they know that under the Constitution, they have no expectation of privacy in a public place anyway; and that there's little difference between a camera at an intersection and a cop on the beat. Both are observing you. Yet their unexplainable "outrage" at their loss of "liberty." High-sounding words, but vacuous.

They too would quote Benjamin Franklin, and I wouldn't be impressed.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 03:06 PM

Sivert: "Look, it is always going to be easier to fight any scourge to the state, be it terrorism, organized crime, drug lords, whatever, with more state power. How far are you willing to go? At what point do you lose the war for liberty precisely with your tactics that suppress freedom?"

Sivert - you are mixing apples and oranges. If there is one libertarian platform I am 100% behind - it is to stop this absurd war on drugs! It is insane! Let people take their drugs and kill themselves, free up all the people jailed for drug related crimes - thereby saving the taxpayer literally billions of dollars on the costs of incarceration, also freeing up thousands of law enforcement officals to be redirected to the war on jihadism, in the process saving so many inner-city (black) families from this insanity (which means more fathers at home raising their kids), thereby solving the problem of Afghanistan - once their drug profits evaporate, stopping a major source of global funding for terrorism and on and on and on. I'll say it again - The War on Drugs is insane! We have much bigger fish to fry. Of course I would also add the following: the US taxpayer will not pick up the insurance costs of people who have exceeded a certain minimum level of federally financed drug treatment. Sorry - you're on your own. Commit suicide if you will. Not our problem.

So yes - I am 100% behind the libertarians on that score. They have something very valuable to offer in the WOT. Any sane person (IMHO) should support ending the War on Drugs. But beyond that - they have little to offer with respect to fighting Islamofascism, with their empty bitching about erosion of civil liberties - just like the Dems. We all want liberty and freedom, OK?

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 03:10 PM

How on earth do you equate Ben Franklin's comments on liberty and safety in the eighteenth century to something as asinine as people worried about cameras at intersections? Are you confusing liberty with privacy?

When I talk about liberty, and I assume Ben Franklin meant the same thing, I mean an individual's freedom from oppression. Not freedom from a fucking traffic camera.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 03:11 PM

So much of life is about destroying falsehoods one brick at a time.

Posted by: Curtis at January 14, 2005 03:14 PM

Are you confusing liberty with privacy?

double,

I'm don't, but it seems to me that many Ben Frankling quoters do. Listen to their feeble objections to some of the Patriot Act provisions. Have I lost my liberty because some Fed read one of my emails and doesn't have to tell me afterwards? I couldn't give a crap. The only people losing their freedom are jihadis--their freedom to plot mass murder. Feeble and vacuous. If a Fed gets a warrant to search my house, but doesn't have to inform me later (as was traditionally required), have I lost any more freedom than if he DID inform me afterwards? None. This is the squawking that I'm talking about. Quote away, but show me the money for a change.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 03:20 PM

David,

You ask, "Do you think someone jumping off one of the twin towers gaves a damn about high-sounding words?"

I doubt it.

Now, do you think an American held captive under threat of decapitation gives a damn about your or my personal security on "our soil?"

On principle, we cannot negotiate with terrorists under such circumstances, but I will bet that captive wouldn't mind us bending our principles just this once.

Our founding fathers fought and some died for the freedoms this country was founded upon. If we are not, at least in principle, willing to die for them as well, we are not true patriots.

That said, no one knows how they will react with a gun pointed at their head. We remember and honor those that act with courage. The rest are human.

Posted by: sivert at January 14, 2005 03:21 PM

Is it an infringement of liberty for the FBI to conduct survellaince, wiretaps, infiltration etc. of Islamic charities, mosques, etc?

We know from both the 93 WTC bombing and nearly every terrorist plot abroad that this is where things are hatched (Hamburg, Madrid, Milan, Singapore, Bojinka, etc).

The choice is stark; either give up some freedom of association unmonitored by the government, or accept more 9/11s.

SOME freedoms will have to go; the question is if people jumping off skyscrapers bother you more than people being monitored and the sacred cows of PC and multiculturalism getting gored.

I'm personally not in favor of no oversight and control for government monitoring; judicial review is called for. But I'll take that choice over more people dying.

Of course, most on the Left believe that if they clap for fairies really hard the bad men will go away and we will have world peace and justice. Unfortunately, we live in the real not make-believe world.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 14, 2005 03:25 PM

On principle, we cannot negotiate with terrorists under such circumstances, but I will bet that captive wouldn't mind us bending our principles just this once.

Ok, that's a valid point. I just don't believe in the current hysteria, that's all.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 03:27 PM

Have I lost my liberty because some Fed read one of my emails and doesn't have to tell me afterwards? I couldn't give a crap. The only people losing their freedom are jihadis--their freedom to plot mass murder.

Sure, today. What guarantee that some more left-leaning government in the future wouldn't take a more personal interest in the political content your emails?

I know I'd lock you up just as a precaution :-)

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 03:29 PM

What guarantee that some more left-leaning government in the future wouldn't take a more personal interest in the political content your emails?

double,

here's how I view that. If the Lefty's took control and our government turned tyrranical, they already have all the necessary tools at their disposal to take me down. They don't need the Patriot Act. So we depend on the benevolence of our government no matter what.

Moreover, if said tyrranical government actually did need more law enforcement tools to impose their view of Utopia, they would simply enact them. They wouldn't be stopped by the fact that 15 years earlier you, double, nixed the Patriot Act.

Getting rid of the Patriot Act as wielded by a benevolent democracy (today) doesn't affect in the least the future actions of a future tyrranical government. They'll do what they want no matter what.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 03:37 PM

So we depend on the benevolence of our government no matter what.

What are you, Canadian or something?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 03:39 PM

Jim Rockford wrote: "Of course, most on the Left believe that if they clap for fairies really hard the bad men will go away and we will have world peace and justice."

Yes, thank you, that is exactly what I think. I was having a hard articulating my precise feelings, but you nailed it, Jim. Go fairies.

Posted by: sivert at January 14, 2005 03:39 PM

Here's a controversial idea - give all the nonviolent petty drug offenders in the U.S. a chance to commute their sentences in exchange for signing up with the military. If they flunk boot camp - it's back to prison. What an incredible waste of young (and even angry) manpower. Before anyone registers shock at such a suggestion - just think of all the teenagers we send off to "bootcamp" type rehab facilities in the U.S..I think its worth some consideration...

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 03:41 PM

David wrote: "Getting rid of the Patriot Act as wielded by a benevolent democracy (today) doesn't affect in the least the future actions of a future tyrranical government. They'll do what they want no matter what."

Okay, so this is where we really diverge. I believe very strongly that we have liberty in this country not because the government is benevolent, but because our system of balance of power. The authors of the constitution did not trust "benevolent" leaders. That is why they went to so much trouble to balance the power of one branch of government with another and allow for elections, etc, etc. The reason to fight against infringemnets of power on others, even lowlifes, is to protect oneself from such action in the future.

BTW, thanks for giving me one. :-)

Posted by: sivert at January 14, 2005 03:47 PM

Okay, so this is where we really diverge. I believe very strongly that we have liberty in this country not because the government is benevolent, but because our system of balance of power.

I might have to bend on another one. Let's just say I don't think anybody has shown me any reason to be alarmed, and leave it at that.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 03:51 PM

"So we depend on the benevolence of our government no matter what.

What are you, Canadian or something?"

DPU - excuse me - but aren't you Canadians on their way to being the first in the west to allow Sharia law? I'd be a little worried about that "benevolent" Canadian government if I were you.

Posted by: caroline at January 14, 2005 03:53 PM

Caroline, that is the most-oft repeated misinformation that I keep running into in the right-hand-side of the blogosphere, and it bothers me that there isn't much investigation or critical thinking about it. After all, gay marriage and drug use are both legal or tolerated in Canada, and both are incompatible with sharia.

The Province of Ontario has opt-in arbitration courts to settle civil disputes. While Canadian civil law takes priority, if both parties in the civil dispute desire a religious basis of arbitration, provisions have been made for several such courts. Dispute resolution based on sharia is one of those, but orthodox judeaism is another, and I believe there may also be some native ones and catholic ones, but I might be mistaken (I live in BC).

Arbitration like this is needs to be requested by both parties, and rulings can be appealed in a purely civil court.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 04:08 PM

While Canadian civil law takes priority

Then it's not real sharia law, unless Canadian civil law now allows for stoning.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 04:12 PM

David: Then it's not real sharia law, unless Canadian civil law now allows for stoning.

It's okay, the Christian-based arbitration courts don't punish men who have had sex with menstruating women (Leviticus 20:18) or require that homosexuals be killed (Leviticus 20:13) either, so it's probably not a real interpretation of Christianity.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 04:18 PM

"That said, no one knows how they will react with a gun pointed at their head."

Well - noone can claim that we haven't had plenty of time to think about it. I was thinking of saying, "THIS IS ISLAM". Of course they probably wouldn't show it. Al-Jazeera conspicuously ommitted the film of the Italian saying something to the effect of - This is how an Italian dies! F**k these bastards! They already control the propoganda. That's why I so completely despise PC. It's just handing it to them on a plate without any fight at all. And the western press is completely willing to go along with the agenda. Over my dead body is all I can say! I must admit, however, that given the great advantages for males over females in Islam - I am rather surprised at males willing to fight it. Or does that explain the relative success of Islam historically? Don't let me go there. The fact is - I have a dog in this fight - actually - I am the dog! And damn proud to be one at that...

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 04:20 PM

Okay - a little emotion there. That's called PUI.

"Posting Under the Influence"

That God its not illegal yet. But it's a 3-day weekend after all - MLK day and all that...

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 04:27 PM

Okay - a little emotion there. That's called PUI.

Woohoo! Caroline's tipsy!

Still working hours here on the west coast and we don't get any holidays here in Canada until Easter. Dammit.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 04:29 PM

It's okay, the Christian-based arbitration courts don't punish men who have had sex with menstruating women (Leviticus 20:18) or require that homosexuals be killed (Leviticus 20:13) either, so it's probably not a real interpretation of Christianity.

Actually, that's not christian law. Levitical laws have never been part of the christian religion. True, the Old testament tells us what sin is, but christians believe Christ paid the penalty on the cross, therefore no stoning of homos.

But stoning IS sharia law. Wherever there is sharia, they stone.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 04:30 PM

True, the Old testament tells us what sin is, but christians believe Christ paid the penalty on the cross, therefore no stoning of homos.

Sigh. Okay then, the Christian-based arbitration also does require shaving the heads of women for praying without a head-covering (First Corinthians 11:6), nor consider gays "worthy of death" (Romans 1:31-32). Whatever.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 04:38 PM

"does" == "does not" in my last post. Ontario courts do not shave the heads of women.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 14, 2005 04:40 PM

DPU - obviously you're on the west coast. But you missed my main point - about dogs - and being darned proud to be one. See - the world would be a whole lot better place if we were all more like dogs! Unless you have a dog you just won't understand that basic existential truth...

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 04:44 PM

Okay then, the Christian-based arbitration also does require shaving the heads of women for praying without a head-covering (First Corinthians 11:6), nor consider gays "worthy of death" (Romans 1:31-32). Whatever.

The penalty for ALL sin is death, not just homos. Paul believed this (in Romans), and modern day christians (are supposed to) believe this. But even though all sinners (including homos) are "worthy of death", Christ has already paid the price. But I presume that the shaving of heads doesn't yet violate Canadian civil law at this time?

Stoning does.

Posted by: David at January 14, 2005 04:44 PM

America tried its best to get the mideasterners to be democratic, but they didn't want to be democratic. Remember Iran in 1953? No matter how hard we tried to get the Muslims to be democratic, in the end they overthrew a parliamentary governement and preferred a dictatorship instead. Our hands, frankly, are clean.

Posted by: han at January 14, 2005 04:51 PM

"Sigh. Okay then, the Christian-based arbitration also does require shaving the heads of women for praying without a head-covering (First Corinthians 11:6), nor consider gays "worthy of death" (Romans 1:31-32). Whatever"

All of this ancient BS would obviously be a moot and quaint historical point if it weren't for the fact that a huge number of folks take this 7th century stuff dead seriously. Is it possible that this in itself is a good argument for going into Iraq? Just to throw a wrench into the stone age and see what happens? What else do we have to lose? We have airplanes and they have box cutters. It appears to be a draw technologically speaking. That leaves ideas. Count me optimistic but I think we can possibly win (eventually) on that score...

Posted by: Caroline at January 14, 2005 04:54 PM

Stone age? huh? The country was hardly in a 'stone age', your ignorance of Iraq is rather revealing.

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Posted by: Aparaty Cyfrowe at January 15, 2005 01:48 AM

"Stone age? huh? The country was hardly in a 'stone age'"

I meant that metaphorically.

Posted by: Caroline at January 15, 2005 03:35 AM

"Arbitration like this is needs to be requested by both parties, and rulings can be appealed in a purely civil court" (DPU)

From what I've read this overlooks the central issue of social pressure in Muslim communities. Once the Sharia-based arbitration courts are in place most Muslim women will not, practically speaking, have a choice to select a non-Sharia court or to appeal the Sharia ruling. Even if the judge were to ask her at the hearing if she voluntarily chooses to be there, is she going to say no - and risk being beaten up when she gets home (remember beating women is also permitted in Islam). While it is doubtful that stoning is in the near future, the rules of property inheritance, the value of a woman's testimony (worth 1/2 that of a man) and so on - run completely counter to western values.

Posted by: Caroline at January 15, 2005 03:50 AM

"America tried its best to get the mideasterners to be democratic, but they didn't want to be democratic. Remember Iran in 1953?" (Han)

I venture to guess that the Iranians have learned their lesson the hard way. There is some hope that their next door neighbors - the Iraqis - may have learned a little something from the Iranian experience as well. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Posted by: Caroline at January 15, 2005 03:57 AM

And yet more PC: LGF posted this article from World Net Daily yesterday:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42393

"CAIR presses Fox TV on Muslim terrorists:
Islamic group 'encouraged' after meeting,
assurance of changes in content of '24'"

"Fox television bucked current media convention by portraying terrorists as Muslims in its drama series "24," but a controversial Islamic lobby group that complained about the show now says it is "encouraged" after meeting with network officials and winning concessions and assurances."

If you scroll to the bottom of the article you'll find additional examples including

CAIR sues the anti-CAIR website for 1.3 million dollars.

CAIR sues Rep Cass Ballenger (NC) for 2 million dollars.

CAIR files FCC complaint re on-air remarks made by Jackie Mason.

Ditto for journalist David Frum, as described in this article at frontpagemag:
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16109

There is obviously a pattern here. I am not a lawyer so I don't know what to make of it or whether we should be alarmed by the pattern or not.

Posted by: Caroline at January 15, 2005 05:19 AM

Lew Rockwell: a libertarian

ROFLMAO

Lew Rockwell is some bizarre hybrid between paleo-conservative, anarchocapitalist. Kind of like Pat Buchanon meets Justin Raimado meets George Soros.

Click here to see a collection of why Lincoln is America's greatest traitor:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/lincoln-arch.html

Here's a concise one that tells us why FDR is nearly as vile as Lincoln.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/dieteman/dieteman24.html

Here's an article where he argues that we've already lost the Iraq war so we must apologize AND RELEASE SADDAM:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/status-quo-ante.html

Rockwell may be an economic libertarian, but in every other regard he is just nuts.

Lunacy

Posted by: lunacy at January 15, 2005 06:22 AM

Yet their unexplainable "outrage" at their loss of "liberty." High-sounding words, but vacuous.

Er, no, the whole point is that the loss of privacy (which is what I assume you refer to) is due to the fact that because surveillance is expensive, the state is forced to prioritize heavily and only surveil citizens who have come to their attention in other ways. As surveillance becomes cheaper, we become more and more de facto watched, if not de jure (especially since the law was written for a certain time for a certain set technologies).

Do you seriously just not spend any time with anyone who is left of center with a brain? Because this isn't precisely unusual reasoning in my circle.

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