Monday, June 14, 2010
An Anti-Terrorist Fatwa?
David Ignatius reports on a fatwa against terrorism and the funding thereof by Saudi clerics.
The fatwa begins with a clear definition of terrorism, which it calls "a crime aiming at destabilizing security" by attacking people or property, public or private. The document goes on to list examples of this criminal activity: "blowing up of dwellings, schools, hospitals, factories, bridges, airplanes (including hijacking), oil and pipelines." It doesn't mention any geographical area where such actions might be permissible.Ignatius sees this in a positive light, but since the above definition of terrorism would seem to include legitimate acts of self-defense against terrorism by the West, I am skeptical of the motive behind the fatwa. And then, of course, there the small problem of the very non-objectivity of religion severing anything of the sort from a rational consideration of what one ought to do in life, let alone even having force among other Moslems. Ignatius himself notes this as he quotes an American official in passing: "Negative reaction from extremists online shows that they see this as a threat that needs to be responded to."
What's striking is that the fatwa specifically attacks financing of terrorism. The Muslim religious council said it "regards the financing of such terrorist acts as a form of complicity to those acts ... to bring a conduit for sustaining and spreading of such evil acts."
Ignatius notes that the fatwa was sought by its king, and an Israeli outlet sees it as an attempt by the theocratic Saudi regime to form a legal basis for fighting domestic terrorism. Interesting to note is that Saudi Arabia has also given Israel the green light to pass through its air space en route to a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
I see this as a short-term move for self-preservation by the Saudi regime at best.
Harvard's Madonna-Whore "Debate"
En route to other things, I see that a couple of years ago, New York Times Magazine published an interesting piece about a new "secular" version of the pre-marital virginity movement, which has now spread to college campuses, including some in the Ivy League. The movement resembles both Catholic theology and mainstream leftism in that it attempts to promote various religious tenets as if they are supported by reason.
Unsurprisingly, the end of the piece notes the dullness of a campus debate between two feminist Harvard students, Janie Fredell and Lena Chen -- the one an exponent of the secular chastity movement and the other a hedonistic sex blogger:
By underscoring their similarities and demonstrating mutual respect for each other, Fredell said she hoped to suggest to the audience that perhaps True Love Revolution [the chastity group] was a friendly force at Harvard -- and also deserving of a little respect. The [student paper], though, declared the whole event "boring!" and without open disagreement, the debate seems to have been resolved almost as a beauty contest. Two women sitting side by side, posing a silent question to the audience: which of us do you find more appealing?What is really interesting to me is that anyone could be surprised by this. Both Janie Fredell and Lena Chen (at least implicitly) agreed that sex is a mindless, physical pursuit -- an attitude that is a symptom of the far-reaching influence of the theory-practice dichotomy in our culture. Both were wrong.
Unsurprisingly, and like many former hippies who have ended up embracing religious views, Chen seems to have been "rethinking virginity" lately.
Two Excellent Pieces
In case you missed them over the weekend, make time to read Paul Hsieh's "Free Speech: Use It or Lose It," and Wendy Milling's, "No Thomas Frank, Capitalism Is Perfect" (via HBL).
From the latter:
Note the subtle trick of [Frank's] op-ed: He attempts to smuggle in an equivocation between the concept of laissez-faire and the concept of industry. The oil spill was an industrial accident. It is unrelated to laissez-faire or any type of political system. Accidents occur in all political systems, and although they are lamentable, they are not any sort of threat to civilization, and they are irrelevant to the choice of political systems. (And if they were relevant, then it is clear which system would be the winner. Observe that the more capitalist the country, the cleaner and safer it is, and the more statist the country, the worse its physical and environmental conditions. The Soviet Union left itself and its satellites toxic wastelands).That's just one of many excellent points Milling makes.
Commentary -- or Sanity?
That's the choice that confronts television viewers armed with mute buttons when tuning in to the World Cup. Thanks to the mindless drone of vuvuzelas, plastic trumpets that are all the rage in South Africa, every game sounds like it is taking place in the bowels of a beehive.
Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, soccer's worldwide governing body, rejected the idea of banning the obnoxious devices on multiculturalist grounds -- even after players in the 2009 Confederations Cup (also held in South Africa) complained about them. So far, FIFA seems unswayed to reconsider banning them in upcoming matches, even by complaints from fans around the world. Given how lucrative soccer television contracts are, this stands as a testimony to the power of irrational philosophical ideas to override practical considerations of self-interest.
If you don't believe me, tune in to a game for a few minutes.
USA 1, England 1
I was thrilled that our national team managed not to lose to the heavily-favored English side. The moral of that game is simple: Lose focus even for an instant at this level of the game and you will be punished. Both goals resulted from defensive lapses, and revealed both teams to be more vulnerable than many thought.
That was the good news in the opening match of round-robin play. The bad news is that Tim Howard, the outstanding American goalkeeper and the man who did the most to keep us in the game, may have broken ribs.