Minnesota Madrassa Update

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I know, it's a Madrassa like Islam is "peaceful"....

The following video clip should provide an interesting follow-up to my April post about allegations by a substitute school teacher that Minnesota is financing the teaching of Islam with public funds.

Several things are worth noting about this video and the circumstances that led to my finding it.

As Ayn Rand once said (at second occurrence of search term "faith and force" -- why don't they have hypertext anchors for individual quotes?):
[F]aith and force are corollaries, and ... mysticism will always lead to the rule of brutality. The cause of it is contained in the very nature of mysticism. Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when men deal with one another by means of reason, reality is their objective standard and frame of reference. But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, no persuasion, communication or understanding are possible. Why do we kill wild animals in the jungle? Because no other way of dealing with them is open to us. And that is the state to which mysticism reduces mankind -- a state where, in case of disagreement, men have no recourse except to physical violence. [bold added]
Thanks for the demonstration, there, Mo!

But what's really striking is how I found this -- from a blog hosted at the online version of the late theocrat William F. Buckley's National Review. Thank God the people who want Christian prayer in the public schools again are on the lookout for separation of (the wrong) church from state! And thank God the infidels -- I once heard a Catholic priest say, "That was our word!" -- set themselves up so well as foils to Christian "tolerance"!

For its objective merits in showing faith in action, this video also, conveniently for Christian theocrats, allows them to smear non-Christians in general, by sloppy comparison.

The sloppiness lies in ignoring the essential similarity between Islam and Christianity -- reliance on faith as a means to knowledge -- while focusing on superficial differences -- like how thoroughly integrated into one's life an individual's rejection of reason actually is.

As Greg Perkins so astutely pointed out yesterday when noting how one prominent Christian apologist likes to lay the blame for Communist atrocities on atheism:
[S]uch a comparison is fundamentally confused. Recall that atheism is not itself an ideology and therefore doesn't lead people to do anything in particular -- good or bad. So again we need to approach the issue in terms that will actually shed some light. The illuminating question to consider is: What does reason offer humanity over faith?


[L]ong-standing Christianity only accommodated the relatively recent changes that unleashed minds brought while its overwhelming authority eroded. We were delivered from the Christian Dark Ages despite Christianity, not because of it.
Does the author of the Phi Beta Cons post at NRO himself want Christian prayer back in public schools? I must admit that I don't know. But he is working for a publication animated by the malevolent spirit of William F. Buckley. At best, the author is making a theocrat's legacy look better than it should.

-- CAV


Jim May said...

at second occurrence of search term "faith and force" -- why don't they have hypertext anchors for individual quotes?

I suggested this to Dr. Binswanger last month; hre responded that it's a problem of available resources.

As I mentioned on the OActivists list some time ago, if there is anyone reading this who would be willing to assist the ARI in upgrading the HTML to include anchors on aynrandlexicon.com, please consider offering your services. Anchors would really boost the utility of the Lexicon for linking in online fora and blog comments.

Gus Van Horn said...

It's conceptually very easy, but looks like a nit-picky, and time-consuming task.

But yeah, it would help a lot!

Vigilis said...

Gus, no one better inoculates our unwary citizens against prospects of subverting our Constitution to Sharia law than Islam's most ardent followers. May each redouble his/her effort in every land!

Gus Van Horn said...

And may our government grow a pair and start responding to this, which is its job!

Clay said...

Funny, I just had a related conversation w/ Dr. Binswanger about creating a widget for the ARL that would allow bloggers and other websites to embed individual comments from the ARL in their posts.

I'm not sure that I explained myself very well, but he seemed supportive of the idea if ARI could find resources to make it happen.

I am going to look into creating a search engine addon for Firefox for the search engine box... while that doesn't directly address this issue it would be a nice little tool for users who don't use keyword searches.

Lastly... and this is most important.. ARI should selectively release the ARL to various interested parties under a Creative Commons license and see what people come up with. They could specify that the quotes needed to be left in tact and not altered in any way which would dilute context, but that improvements in presentation, searchability, and shareability would be welcome.

Incidentally, ARI should do this will all of their audio lectures. Getting transcriptions or lectures edited down into sections would be a huge benefit for ARI in exchange for taking the risk of "giving away" some copies of their products.

I have on the backburner a note to write up some sort of manifesto about this explaining different strategies that ARI might employ. It has struck me for some time that ARI needs a technology "czar" who helps them to push the envelope technologically rather than constantly being well behind the curve and playing catch up.

It's really annoying to get an ad from the bookstore telling me "now on cd!" and having to wonder what format I can get the lectures in on the cd. I doubt that the person writing the ad copy even understands that a cd is not a format. It's a medium for storing data.

Gus Van Horn said...

"I am going to look into creating a search engine addon for Firefox for the search engine box... while that doesn't directly address this issue it would be a nice little tool for users who don't use keyword searches."

How could you search the ARL (or even a page of it without using keywords?

If you're talking specifically about AOL keywords (which I vaguely recall being different than real search terms), then you've misunderstood me.

Or if you mean the subject headings from the ARL itself, Google, one's own search terms, and delimiting the domain already does that.

Searching the ARL is not a problem. Sending someone to where you found a quote to a resolution better than the page where you found the quote is.

Hypertext anchors would solve that problem easily AND they'd obviate the "context problem" because people who wanted to quote part of something could then link directly to the large quote.

Also, that is the only way to be able to display the data and solve the context problem. On a computer, if you can see it, you can edit it. Adding a bunch of technology on top of simple HTML sounds superfluous to me.

As to CD being a medium and not a format, that point is well taken. At a minimum, the format should appear within the product description so if ARI uses some proprietary and nonstandard format, people who don't use Windows don't waste their money (or time learning what it is or hunting down a away to use their CD). Ideally, all electronic formats used should be usable with common, platform-independent software (or commonly-used software for Windows, Mac, and Linux/Unix).

Clay said...

Tutorial on what I meant by "keyword."

Sorry for the ambiguity, I wasn't referring to search terms.


Note: I'm the one giving the tutorial.

Clay said...

hypertext anchors are one solution, but it's a solution that requires someone following a link to a page.

A different solution would be an embedded image with the particular quote in the image and an ARL watermark specifying where the quote came from.

As far as search engine plugins goes, this is what I'm talking about:


If there's a wider point to be made we've come up with four different solutions to this "problem." Some of the solutions might work better for some people than other people. It's just nice to create options.

Clay said...

So I went and tested to see if I could generate a search plugin and in fact I did. Only to discover that someone else had already done so.


Note: I don't know if the other developer knew what he was doing. I just followed the instructions and it seems to work.

Personally, I use keyword searches as I find them faster, but i can see where other people would find this much more useful.

Gus Van Horn said...

"A different solution would be an embedded image with the particular quote in the image and an ARL watermark specifying where the quote came from."

If I get your drift here, you're speaking of this as a way to provide authoritative quotes that can't get mangled, and that's fine and good, but this strikes me as something that will hinder the usability of the ARL by bloggers et al. if it replaces the current ASCII text.

And as for having a solution that does not require someone to follow a link, how do you guarantee a display of the whole quote, other than inserting an image of the whole quote (which you may or may not want) instead of just cutting and pasting text? By having some sort of pop-up or rollover?

It's an interesting idea, but at the risk of sounding like a cranky old fart, I don't want to insert an image when I could just cut and paste text, and I find popups and rollovers extremely distracting when I'm trying to read and would not use those myself.

While I would not rule out such technology, I would have to set my page up to allow individual users to turn off such displays as a default (perhaps via cookie), and it would have to be extremely easy and unobtrusive to do so.

In sum, I see the merits of your idea, or at least a I see a few of them, but I would be very unhappy if watermarked images of quotes replaced the present text.

Clay said...

well, one way to do it would be via a tool such as http://kwout.com/

Of course this keeps the text in tact and is available for generalized use.

The nice thing about a site specific tool would be that the site would be able to promote its availability and use.

Clay said...

Oh, and I agree about replacing the text.. that would not be good.

Gus Van Horn said...

Kwout is an interesting way to get past the lack of hypertext anchors and my objection to losing the text, as well as being able to "quote" something with images or bizarre HTML in it.

Thanks for pointing that out.

You seem to be full of good ideas, and I think that on top of that, your willingness to speak to end users to see which ideas are more likely to be adopted (or why end users might resist them) will serve you and your customers well. I sometimes think that many in software could stand to do more of that of thing.

So thanks, also, for listening.

Clay said...

Would that I were a software developer. :)