(These ideas are explicated in this sloppy manifesto)
Saturday, November 30, 2002
East meets left...
Andrew Sullivan on the hypocrisy of the left with respect to the Nigerian Miss World Riot of 2002:
Now imagine a scenario in which, say, the play "Corpus Christi" was produced in New York (as it was). The play was highly offensive to some fundamentalists because it depicted Jesus as gay. What if a mob of enraged Christians, after a holy sermon at a neighboring church, had decided to torch the office of the New York Times because they ran a favorable review, or to burn down the theater? What if they killed hundreds of innocent bystanders in their rage? What if they issued a call to all faithful Christians to kill playwright Terence McNally for his blasphemy? Do you think the rampage would be described as "atheist-Christian riots"? Do you think leftists would call on the playwright to be more sensitive in future? Would the mayor of New York blame the theater? Yet when it comes to a far, far deadlier menace to our freedoms than fundamentalist Christianity, much of the left is silent or, worse, making excuses for this Islamist threat.As with Raymond, Sullivan credits the left with too much integrity. Later I want to delve into what is really happening. Stay tuned.
Friday, November 29, 2002
Defending the indefensible...
My friend Billy Beck cited this article by Eric Raymond, a piece of which is quoted:
Today's treason of the intellectuals consists of equating suicide bombings deliberately targeting Israeli women and children with Israeli military operations so restrained that Palestinian children throw rocks at Israeli soldiers without fearing their guns. Today's treason of the intellectuals tells us that because the U.S. occasionally propped up allied but corrupt governments during the Cold War, we have no right to object to airliners being flown into the World Trade Center. Today's treason of the intellectuals consists of telling us we should do nothing but stand by, wringing our hands, while at least one of the groups in the Islamo-fascist axis acquires nuclear weapons with which terrorists could repeat their mass murders in New York City and Bali on an immensely larger scale.Billy has objections with other parts of Raymond's thesis, but I think this is spot on. With this, however, I have quibbles:
Behind both kinds of treason there lurks an ugly fact: second-rate intellectuals, feeling themselves powerless, tend to worship power.As I'll discuss in the coming days, I thinks this credits the defenders of the indefensible with vastly more humanity than they possess...
A dangerous naivete...
Jacob Sullum has been around for years. Libertarians will know his name from Reason magazine. In this column from TownHall.com he seems to me to highlight the worst aspects of squeamish libertarianism:
The answer to the question of why some Muslims consider it their religious duty to kill nonbelievers cannot lie in the Koran, the authority of which is accepted by all followers of Islam. That is the point President Bush was making when, soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, he declared that Islamist terrorists twist their religion into a justification for their vile crimes.First we have the obligatory quibbling equivalizing. Then we get to a fancied significant difference between peaceful and violent Muslims. No doubt there are many doctrinal and personal differences between Muslims who simply live, work and play and those other Muslims who slaughter non-Muslims as they live, work and play. Who could object to such a claim? The question is, what do non-Jihadi Muslims do about the slaughterers among them? Do they cheer them? Do they finance them? Do they silently support them? Do they silently oppose them? Do they actively oppose them? Or do they just turn away and declaim again and again that the Islam in evidence is not the true Islam, the Islam of contemplation, the Islam of devotion, the Islam of peace? (Where have we heard that one before?)
The Jihadi are not twisting the Koran. They are quoting it chapter and verse. Muslims know the Koran like only fanatical Christians know the Bible--which should tell us something just by itself. A more reasonable explanation for Sullum's conundrum is this: Just as American leftists decried the not-the-true-Communism yet did nothing to stop its atrocities, so peaceful Muslims are doing nothing to stop the atrocities of the not-the-true-Islam. I think for the same reason: Because they share the root premises but for whatever reason are not willing to pursue them to their logical conclusions. Is it possible that "the beliefs that distinguish peaceful Muslims from terrorists" are really just a matter of inches and hours? If so, then we are safe from peaceful Muslims (and peaceful leftists) only as long as their more ferocious brethren seem unlikely to succeed...
Jonah Goldberg does the math...
Trixie's boy at TownHall.com:
But the most important point that sometimes get lost in all of this is that hate crimes against Americans truly soared in 2001. A group of religious bigots and fanatics murdered thousands of Americans solely because they were Americans on Sept. 11. And they're still doing it. They're immensely proud that they got away with their hate crimes. We're paranoid that we might be vaguely responsible for a few similar crimes. And therein lies all the difference.The irony is that the mainstream press is equally unscrupulous: to carefully count every anti-Islamic 'hate crime' and yet to carefully forebear to notice that our attackers are Muslims in pursuit of religious objectives. They don't hate us for our freedom, they hate us because we are not Muslims. But I will bet that they just love us for our politically-correct hypocrisy...
Thursday, November 28, 2002
Death Wish 2002
A long-time friend, a fine writer backed up by a fine mind, made the observation below in email. He spared me in his remarks, but, perhaps fearing that I have a fatwa infatuation, he has elected to remain anonymous:
A friend of mine had a brush with death and then got to thinking about the Hereafter. He began studying Buddhism. His take on Buddhism's teaching in the wake of mass murder by terrorists -- the WTC attacks, for instance: "Do nothing."What I thought was interesting about this was the substitution of ends and means: Not heaven as the reward for having lived well, but heaven as proof of having lived well, no matter how briefly or homicidally. The demonstration of my goodness is not my consistent self-improvement (which I advocate), nor even my persistent self-sacrifice (which I oppose), but rather who I killed and how--whether my victim is myself or other people. As my friend says, "It's all about death." I don't think this phenomenon--the wilfull inflction of injury or death as proof of virtue--is limited to religion. I do think, though, it is essential to understanding the East, the land of Cain...
And isn't that a dainty dish? It's Thanksgiving, and I'm off to give thanks. I wish you peace.
Feminism is a religion of peace...
An interview with Mary Daly in a magazine mistakenly named "Enlightenment":
WIE: Which brings us to another question I wanted to ask you. Sally Miller Gearhart, in her article "The Future--If There Is One--Is Female" writes: "At least three further requirements supplement the strategies of environmentalists if we were to create and preserve a less violent world. 1) Every culture must begin to affirm the female future. 2) Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture. 3) The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race." What do you think about this statement?A "less violent world" requires nothing more than the slaughter of 45% of humanity. Luckily, people "are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore". Except Islamic holy warriors. And American academicians...
To Condi, with sweetness
A new essay, this one advocating a presidential run by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Here's some of my reasoning:
Condoleezza Rice is named for an operatic stage direction--con dulcezza, sing with sweetness. As an intellectual and an ideologue, she stands for important principles, proud and profound, firm and fixed. But as a symbol, she represents the great tree of Liberty, fully grown from the seed sown so long ago in Athens. Where we had been ignorant--about gender, about race, about creed--we have grown wise. But the West has grown wise because the West can grow wise--can question its premises, can revise its errors, can learn to live better and do better and be better.Pallas Athena in a knee-length skirt? Maybe not. But just what the West needs to win the cultural war with Islam...
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Catching a clue?
Tell-tale signs from USS Clueless:
This war is, ultimately, cultural. It is a war between us on the side of liberal democracy and all it stands for (diversity, secular government, freedom of thought and expression, religious freedom, privacy, self-determination) and a strict strain of Islam which has as its goals uniformity, suppression of all dissent, harsh persecution of all non-believers, theocratic government under Sharia, and conformance of all people to the arbitrary dicta of self-selected holy men under threat of death, torture or dismemberment.With that much I can agree. Further down the author argues:
The majority of the world's Muslims, who are (or at least claim to be) more tolerant, will have to choose sides. They cannot remain silent; they must begin to speak and act forcefully one way or the other. I would hope they would choose our side, and speak out on behalf of the ideas of diversity and freedom and tolerance, and argue for Islam as a religion but against Islam as a political movement and form of government.And this of course will not happen, not without a very powerful goad. The author argues that the goad might be nuclear conflagration. Even that--god spare us that fate!--will not be enough. The cultural war will be fought by cultures, by ideas, not by weapons.
Oh, well, that's different...
An aborted abortion called Russell Smith makes it all clear:
Still, it's important to realize that even in Canada and Europe, the fiercest anti-Americanism is usually provoked by cultural issues. I can understand the rage that people who live in desperate poverty must feel at seeing their poor, corrupt city invaded by cameramen who are only there to photograph beauty that is completely Western-defined. It is entirely foreign culture, and its massive power is irritating.Hundreds dead, hudreds more injured, thousands homeless, a death sentence for the reporter and the offices of the newspaper burned to the ground, but all that is perfectly justified. Western culture is irritating, after all. In a different context, President Bush called this "the soft tyranny of low expectations"...
Death to beauty!
Robert W. Tracinski in the Jewish World Review:
But the most revealing element of this Islamic attack was a slogan chanted by rioters: "Down with Beauty." This is the key to the whole outlook of Islam: an attack on any enjoyment of life in this world, even the aesthetic enjoyment of contemplating beauty. If you want young men to die for Allah -- the explicit goal of the fanatics -- then you can't let them catch even a glimpse of the values they are leaving behind.Tracinski is a popularizer for the Ayn Rand Institute, but he misses a few tricks. For instance, the idea of beauty is a Western concept. Very ancient, but still a product of the cultural cross-pollenization that resulted in Hellenic culture. And, while he promises to elucidate the "craven appeasement of Islam by the West", he doesn't deliver as well as he might have. Still, it's a good read. And there is a good deal more to be said about death-pursuing doctrines...
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Peace, it turns out, has a price. Reuters via Yahoo:
A Nigerian Muslim state said Tuesday it had issued a "fatwa" urging Muslims to kill the author of a newspaper story on the Miss World pageant that sparked deadly riots in northern Nigeria.This is an actual blood sacrifice: Isioma Daniel is innocent of anything any sane person would call wrong-doing, and she has apologized profusely anyway. But she is to be murdered in order to sate the bloodlust of a mindless mob--"could defuse anger that might otherwise lead to further bloodshed." This is nothing but savagery masquerading as religion...
Islam and moral equivalence
A brand new essay, a first strike at the ultimate purpose of this weblog:
The derision by the politically correct of Robertson and Falwell notwithstanding, it is nevertheless true that Islam is a warrior culture. It was born in war, and it remains committed to holy war down to the present day. Unreconstructed, unreformed, unrepentant. Individual Muslims may seek to live and worship in peace. But their creed--and the theocratic states seeking to advance that creed--does, must and will pursue universal submission to the will of Allah. By persuasion if possible. By coercion if not. And by murder if all else fails.This is in a certain sense il-libertarian. In mail to friends, I said the purpose of this weblog would be to "advocate the cultural conquest of the East by the West, starting with Islam." But in the sloppy manifesto, I say that my goal is "Evangelical Egoism." The two are not in conflict. We are going to have a war with Islam, but it will not settle the issue. More likely, it will exacerbate the conflict between East and West. But, in the end, the West must either subsume Islam or be subsumed by it. I believe I am in league with the Greeks...
Who can blame them?
Dennis Prager in Townhall.com on the Nigerian Miss World riot:
So here's where we stand:Islam means peace. If not before you're killed, then surely after...
Monday, November 25, 2002
In future, copyright could be extinct
Fred Reed in the Washington Times opines:
As broadband spreads, piracy gets ever easier. Maybe the best answer will turn out to be not to protect copyright at all. I could certainly be wrong but, if things continue as they are, shortly there will be, de facto, no copyright.That much is true. It's already true, even if Chicken Little hasn't heard that the sky has already fallen. But Reed also offers the idea that books e-published on the honor-snacks plan would be profitable for authors, and this is assuredly untrue. People will happily download 'free' files unending. Very few will pay for them. And this is appropriate. We have arrived at a point where information is so abundant that to pay for it is almost absurd. Surely this phase change will be met with outsized lamentations, but the world has changed.
Feel 'free' to download my e-book The Unfallen. It's a very sexy novel about philosophy. Or a very pilosophical tract about love and sex. You can preview it here, to see if you want to take the plunge. And you don't have to pay me anything.
Give a bird a fish...
On Sunday, my son and I went on falcon hunt with his Cub Scout Den. God bless the Cub Scouts, they do fine things when they're not preaching Communism.
It was an actual hunt, a Harris hawk avidly pursuing juicy young jack-rabbits. The falconers taught us a lot, all of it fascinating to me.
For instance, not only was the recent de-listing of the Peregrine falcon from the Endangered Species List brought about by falconers, they actually introduced many more breeding pairs than the Feds had sought.
A question: How could predatory birds raised in captivity be introduced into the wild?
"You just release them," said the master falconer. "In three days they revert to the wild."
"Why three days?"
"They get hungry."
But of course...
Interestingly, the falconer-bred Peregrine falcons are much better hunters than their wilder cousins. The falconers can teach the birds to hunt better in two weeks than self-taught birds can learn by themselves in two years--if they survive that long. More falcons, healthier falcons, with better long-term survival prospects. Very impressive.
It put me in mind of that admonition, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats forever." Both of those transactions are a net loss to the donor, it must be noted, but the second is at least a relatively sensible waste of human capital.
I still say let 'em eat steak, though. In three days they'll get hungry and figure out how to fish on their own...
And Reds yet again: The self and sacrifice...
From another email:
There's a gap between these examples and an individual choosing to give for another based solely on his discretion. This sort of sacrifice is at the heart of family.The question of what is called 'Christian charity' came up often in my mail, and it is a vitally important question for this particular weblog:
First, it would be accurate to say that in many (but not all) ways, the Nazarene Hellenized (Westernized) the East.
Second, it would also be accurate to say that Marx was seeking to Orientalize (Easternize) the West.
In what way is Christian charity different from Judaic charity? From Islamic charity?
And: How will the West, sleepwalkingly steeped in Marxism, resist the demand of the sacrifice of the self made by Islam, the loudest voice of the non-Hellenized East?
I answered only part of the email:
I guess the question that I'm getting at is this: is there something that ennobles man?Christian charity, Judaic charity, Islamic charity--these are all true sacrifices, the sacrifice of Abel to Cain, the sacrifice of virtue to vice. The sacrifice of industry to sloth, of truth to deceit, of honor to corruption, of the love of life to the contempt of death. The sacrifice of the magnificent human mind to the screeching monkeys of the veldt. The sacrifice of the ego to the mob...
The human ego is the only object of sacrifice, and this is why it is the only enemy of the doctrines of the East--Christian, Judaic, Islamic or Marxist--and the only weapon that can defeat them.
Reds again: Cassandra speaks...
This is an email I had, with the correspondent named, as I'm sure he is proud of himself, and as I'm sure he has every right to be proud of himself:
Unfortunately, I'm sure the part about "no one listens" is true. The good news is: The truth will out...
Reds redux: Better red than dead...
This is a reply I had to my essay Reds, with the correspondent's name omitted as an act of (ahem) charity:
In the end, it is good for people to contribute for the good of the collective. This can be done voluntarily or it can be done through the force of law. The more it's done voluntarily, the less the socialists can make the case that it should be done through the force of law.Which says: They can't conquer us if we surrender first!
Facts versus testimony...
Diana West in the Jewish World Review:
If the President of the United States -- the Great Satan's great Satan -- believes, as this one has variously and repetitively stated, that unreformed Islam is already the ultimate in peace, comfort, charity, compassion, honesty, inspiration, love, mercy and justice, then you have to wonder what on earth would possess Islam's liberals to undertake the arduous and even dangerous work of forcing the religion out of the Middle Ages and into the 21st century."Islam's liberals" is a dubious category, of course, half myth, half renegade-in-hiding, but it is refreshing to see this under discussion in the popular press.
Sunday, November 24, 2002
In email to my friend Billy Beck and the editorial board of the No Treason weblog, I said, "The Soviets are dead, but communism was never healthier". Billy cites a counter-claim, one we both agree is foolish. The essay Reds is me making my case if not Billy's:
Is the youth minister a Communist? The PTA president? Emphatically, no--so much the worse. The theorists who lead the feminists and the environmentalists and the vegans know what they are doing--which is helpful, since their theory leads them to take stands so absurd that normal people are repelled. But when the Scout leader regurgitates the Marxist horseshit he was force-fed without even knowing it was Marxist horseshit, without even realizing he was being force-fed, without ever once thinking about what his words might mean--that man is the most effective recruiting agent the Communists ever had.This has broader implications than Communism, as I'll be discussing on presenceofmind.net in the coming weeks.