Saturday, June 29, 2002

Another editorial on the pledge some good points.

All this stuff about prayers at football games and graduations creates a problem that isn't solved by banning them, the spread of intolerance. If you allow them, you offend atheists, who think they are a government endorsement of religion. If you ban them, you offend the religious who feel that they are being denied their freedom of religion.

I think that the government taking the side of atheists suggests that it is against religious expression, rather than a defender. It endorses a sensitivity that is bordering on the neurotic. The fact is that we are a diverse nation and it ill behooves any of us to be too touchy about anything.

What the courts should be saying is "Grow up!" By trying to protect the sensitive feelings of one group, they have given them a veto over the rest and the power to threaten and bedevil society.

Friday, June 28, 2002

Last Night's Frontline, on PBS, gave a behind-the-scenes view of the famous Middle East Peace Process from Oslo through Camp David.

I really find this obsession with getting an agreement at all costs kind of stupid. We should have learned long ago that Arafat is a terrorist revolutionary in his bones. He doesn't know anything else. If he had to govern without an enemy, he wouldn't know what to do. That's why whenever peace gets too close, he finds an excuse to reject it. Of course, it's possible that we just don't understand the "culture" of these people well enough, but they seem to understand ours very well and know exactly how to manipulate our desire to end the violence, and string us along with new hopes, from which they get more money, promises and support from Arab states.

That's why Bush's speech on what it will take to get a Palestinian state is so welcome. It says clearly what we expect. Now, if he can only show the gumption to refrain from more "peace" talks until the Palestinians start to show some interest in democracy and their own state instead of campaigning on the promise of destroying Israel. If they had any sense, they'd expel all the Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorists from their territory and try to live in peace. Then they would have the West on their side in putting an end to the Israeli settlements.

I don't think they will do anything sensible, however. I think that the area is doomed to continued warfare and terrorist violence for the foreseeable future. I don't know what the Israelis can do differently. Maybe just ignore the suicide bombings, since the terrorists seem to want more incursions to show how great the military imbalance is between them and the Palestinians. But being weak, doesn't excuse anybody from being vicious and stupid. Eventually, the Israelis will figure out a way to block the bombers from getting through the borders, which will also hurt the Palestinian economy further and increase their misery. But they'll have no one to blame but themselves.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

I can't link to tonight's Daily Show, but Jon Stewart nailed this pledge of allegiance issue:

The plaintiff, a California man, Michael A. Newdow (hereafter known as "Get 'im!") is an atheist who objected that his second grade daughter had to listen to the pledge. In an interview on [CNN] Newdow explained how he came up with the idea to file the suit saying, "One day I was just looking at some coins. That's what brought this up. I saw 'In God We Trust' on my coins. I said, 'I don't trust in God, What is this?'" [Stewart adds] So then I thought, "How can I drag my six-year-old daughter into my misguided rage?"

. . . Now this brings up an interesting point. The 'Under God' statement from the pledge of allegiance does technically violate the separation of church and state. But you know what? So what? . . .

Yes, you're right. Technically, boys should be allowed to play on the girls field hockey team. Yes, tecnically, coffee is very hot, and people should write "Don't spill this on yourself!" . . . You don't like "In God We Trust" on the money? I got a new slogan for you on the money, "Suck it up," Put that on the money and stop wasting our time with lawsuits, because you know what, you're never going to find a lawyer to go, "That's a dumb idea, to sue."


We are supposed to believe in and practice tolerance in this country. And that includes the atheists among us, and the Muslims and the voodooists. If I live in a Jewish ghetto, I've got no business bitching because I see the Star of David everywhere. I just start wishing people "Happy Hannukah!" and get used to the stores being closed on Saturday. It's a big, free country. Shop around. If you don't like it where you are, move, but don't be a jerk and demand that everyone else change to suit you. It's stupid, selfish and just unamerican. If you can't be happy because other people say "under God" in the pledge of allegiance, its not them who have the problem. You need a shrink to treat your obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It's the same with environmentalists who think their "wilderness experience" is ruined because they see some ATV tracks or a cow pie or two. If you can't enjoy the great outdoors if there's a jet contrail across the sky, grow up and get a life. But don't waste everybody else's time, money and enjoyment by filing lawsuits to get your own way. Didn't you ever go to kindergarten?

A few years ago, a Jewish family in Salt Lake City sued the school district because the school choir to which their daughter belonged was singing Christmas songs, although they weren't explicitly Christian lyrics. I remember thinking about what that taught their daughter. "See the world around you as hostile. Always be on alert for something to be offended by, and when you find it. use force to humiliate the rest of the community and teach them not to mess with you." Of course, don't expect your daughter to have many friends afterwards, or to ever feel accepted.

Jeez, I'd hate to think that I was in on the ground floor of anything.

Of course, I wasn't there as soon as Instapundit, but I think I got a clue a long time before the twits in the mainstream media.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Ninth Circuit Declares Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional

I've never been too bothered by the rule against prayer in schools, although I am religious. But this ruling against the Pledge bothers me on two counts.

1. Why is it that only athiests are entitled to tolerance? This kind of thing grants a veto power to any antisocial crank. If he doesn't believe in God, what difference does it make if he says "under God" or not? None, except that he can use it as a lever to impose his will on the majority. The reasoning for all of this is that no one should be stigmatized because of his belief or lack thereof. But stigmatization is not a constitutional matter, only actual denial of substantive rights guaranteed to all citizens. When did self-esteem become a guaranteed right?

Furthermore, why isn't the religious majority being stigmatized by the courts telling them that they are wrong to want to pray? I don't feel any need to shove my religion down anyone else's throat, but I take exception to some atheist shoving his atheism down my throat.

2. When I thought about it, the phrase "under God" only makes sense, not as a matter of worship, but as an indication that the person making the pledge is not vowing a greater allegiance to the state than to God. Of course, if he does have any allegiance to God, then the phrase is inoperative. It should not be read as a statement of faith, but as a limit on the kind of allegiance being pledged.

3. The proper attitude in this country should be one of tolerance, period. What ever happened to teaching kids that the world doesn't revolve around them? Whatever happened to "Get over it!"? I was the only Mormon in my grade school and high school in Illinois. I heard protestant ministers and Catholic priests give prayers at public meetings and it never occurred to me to be offended or file a lawsuit, or even complain. My ancestors were mobbed and driven from their homes in Missouri and then from Illinois. Even after they got to Utah, the government sent troops based on false reports that the Mormons were in revolt, as though there was anything there to revolt against. They just wanted a place nobody else wanted, where they could live as they wanted. They tried for statehood almost as soon as they settled Utah, but were blocked for nearly 50 years because of agitation by protestant ministers.

But they were taught to never look back or give in to self-pity, just get to work and built with what they had. It was good advice then and now. This obsession with having everything the way you want it, is not healthy for the person or the society. The courts really need to learn to recognize when people are whining over something that the law can't change. People aren't going to quit believing, just because the courts block "under God" or "In God We Trust," nor are they going to flock to the standard of atheism, because the state now supports it rather than them. So what's the point of dragging the courts into the debate?

What has this plaintiff taught his daughter about how to get along with other people? "If you don't get your way, take them to court and rub their noses in it." Yep, that'll make her happy and well adjusted.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Oh, those poor innocents!

Arab News has this story. (via Instapundit)

The Western journalists typically enter the Kingdom under cover of pretending that they want to learn more about what goes on here, for the benefit of international relations and intercultural harmony.

However, once they arrive they immediately shed their flimsy masks.

High on having got in, they set about doing what they really came here to do: launch psychological assaults on the local Saudi population.

Their weapons are crude, but intellectually devastating: questions of the utmost stupidity.

They invariably leave their Saudi victims with a feeling of having been insidiously violated, and doubly distressed at their later realization that they were such willing victims.

After the initial assault, the victims are betrayed again.

Their polite but persistently objective and sensible answers are wildly distorted � indeed, not unusually completely reversed � in subsequent reports filed by the Western journalists for subtle propaganda purposes abroad.

Jeez, guy, welcome to the world.

This really is hilarious. I guess it means they won't be implementing a free press in Arabia any time soon.

Hear! Hear!

The reason for the extreme forest fires of the recent years is being covered up, and the blame is being placed on past management practices. The truth is that the Forest Service no longer practices proper forestry practices, party because it is being taken over by environmental ideologues and partly because it can't even remove dead wood without having to contest lawsuits from so-called green organizations.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Sigh. I guess it's inevitable that stuff like this will be in the media, but I really wish we wouldn't telegraph our intentions regarding Iraq like this.

This isn't new to the rest of you who read blogs, but I just decided to explore the MEMRI websiteJust a glance at the heads on this page, MEMRI: Special Dispatch Series, is enough to make one realize what we're up against. This war is going to be a long, hard one. The American people need to suck it up and get ready. Most of all, we need to get it through our heads that these people want us all dead or converted to Islam.

is the challenge:

In case you do not have the time or stamina, let me tell you this: we are as old as the stone that Jesus walked on, pure as the water Muhammad was given to wash for prayer from, and severe as the laws Moses brought down from the Mount. You will vanish, but we will remain� the world will advance to oblivion, but our date palms and our olive trees will survive your nuclear bombs.

David Horowitz reviews an al-Qaeda manifesto:
The al-Qaeda statement asks: How can a Muslim accept humiliation and inferiority "when he knows that his nation was created to stand at the center of leadership, at the center of hegemony and rule, at the center of ability and sacrifice?

This is an important thing for the West to understand. This is not about our failure to grant religious tolerance or Western imperialism or any Western misdeed, except success in resisting jihad. It's about the frustration of Muslims who have been taught all their lives that the world must submit to Islamic law. Remember that "islam" means submission. But we Westerners have resisted and turned back the Muslim conquest of the World and through our material success have even made it less desirable or attractive to the common people.

But I can't say any of this any better than Horowitz already has. Read the whole thing.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

From InstaPundit.Com comes this link to an article about Stanley Hauerwas, a Methodist theologian hitting it big currently.

A few years ago, I heard a religion reporter on C-Span2 discussing his book about the Mormons, express incredulity that they have no theologians. How can they know what they believe, he asked, if they don't have theologians?

Ah, well, how did Isaiah know what to write? Or Amos? Or Peter, James or John? The fact is that God never has operated through the "educated" elite, the scribes, or the social elite, the Pharisees.

The real leaders of true religion are prophets, called from various walks of life, if the Bible is any guide. They don't usually get much credit in their own time or from their own home towns, although there are times when they are honored, as was Moses or Samuel. Others are treated like more like Jeremiah.

So turning to the intellectuals for guidance on the mind and will of God, even one hailed by Time as "America's best theologian," is unfortunately as likely to get at the truth as seeking it from Mullah Omar or Ayatollah Khomeini.

Hauerwas hates warfare, the death penalty, abortion and probably cloning. He seems to see himself in the Jeremiah role, chastising us for going after al Qaeda.

But one doesn't get to pick and choose from Scripture, although textual criticism is a pretty good way of keeping it at bay, to keep from having to deal with the really tough questions about God being angry with Saul for his failure to totally destroy the Amalekites, man, woman, child and cattle. Christians like to say, that was the God of the OLD Testament, but that's a pretty facile way to sidestep the real issue.

So, who can fathom the mind of God? I suppose no one. Who can justify His ways to man? Milton tried, but succeeded more in making Satan seem heroic.

Jonah Goldberg, in his comparison of Arab national socialism with Nazism, both being latecomers to urban industrial societies (although I would argue with the idea that Arab societies have real gotten there yet), notes:

The economics are of course not identical � in part because the National Socialists, or more fairly put the nationalist socialists in Arab countries, gained power and held on to it, while the Nazis only ruled for twelve years. But it is not outlandish to say that Arab societies are undergoing an upheaval not entirely dissimilar to what Germany went through in the years leading up to World War II.

It occurred to me that the Nazis might have held onto power longer if they hadn't tried to conquer the rest of Europe, causing Russia, England and the U.S. to unite against them and destroy them. The Arabs haven't tried that, but al Qaeda is the logical extention of a fundamentalist agenda hearkening back to a time when "jihad" meant bringing the entire world into subjection, i.e. islam. To the extend it is supported by Muslims worldwide, it can only succeed in the way, leading to another world war greater than the last one and more devastating to Islam than any defeat it has yet suffered. We can only hope that there is enough sanity in the Muslim world to lead it away from such an outcome, because it has nowhere near the industrial capacity to compete in such a contest. In fact, this medieval orthodoxy works powerfully against it, by disdaining modernism and "infidel" education. It may have more manpower; it may even use nukes, but it doesn't have enough of them to survive such a battle with anything resembling a civilization.