Quick Roundup 17

Monday, February 06, 2006

This was an awful weekend for blogging. I ended up putting in 10 busy hours Saturday and woke up later Sunday than I needed to, but I was determined to watch the Super Bowl. In a way, the lack of time was good, because I needed a break from all the ...

Moslem Childishness

Cox and Forkum and Martin Lindeskog both post excellent roundups on the Moslem Cartoon Riots. The former link to a long article by a Moslem dissident I found Friday and was impressed with.

The cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten raise the most important question of our times: freedom of expression. Are we in the west going to cave into pressure from societies with a medieval mindset, or are we going to defend our most precious freedom -- freedom of expression, a freedom for which thousands of people sacrificed their lives?

A democracy cannot survive long without freedom of expression, the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to insult and offend. It is a freedom sorely lacking in the Islamic world, and without it Islam will remain unassailed in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress; ossified, totalitarian and intolerant. Without this fundamental freedom, Islam will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality; originality and truth.

Unless, we show some solidarity, unashamed, noisy, public solidarity with the Danish cartoonists, then the forces that are trying to impose on the Free West a totalitarian ideology will have won; the Islamization of Europe will have begun in earnest. Do not apologize.
I also liked what David Veksler had to say about this behavior.
Apparently some Muslims are in a tiffy about this image. They are issuing death sentences, burning embassies, and demanding that "honest people all over the world to condemn this act." But is this an [accurate] portrayal of their religion? Until they condemn these acts, I think it is.
And in that vein, I direct my readers to this article from a 1997 issue of The Onion. (Via Glenn Reynolds)
HEBRON, WEST BANK -- In an emotionally charged press conference Monday, crazed Palestinian gunman Faisal al Hamad expressed frustration over the stereotyping of his people.

[Image Title and Caption: Crazed Palestinian Gunman Angered By Stereotypes Faisal al Hamad, seen here shrieking anti-U.S. slogans, says that "not every crazed Palestinian gunman is exactly alike."]

"As a crazed Palestinian gunman, I feel hurt by the negative portrayal of my people in the media," said al Hamad, 31, a Hebron-area terrorist maniac. "None of us should have to live with stereotyping and ignorance."

He then began screaming and firing into a busload of Israeli schoolchildren.

"It hurts that in this supposedly enlightened day and age, people still make assumptions about other people," al Hamad said. "We should not rely on simple generalizations. Each crazed Palestinian gunman is an individual."

Al Hamad said that he himself has often been unfairly stereotyped. "Any time I enter a crowded temple with fully loaded AK-47s in both hands, people just assume I'm going to open fire," he said. "That really hurts."

"Yes, I sometimes do gun people down in the name of the One True God," he noted. "But there is so much more to me."
I have spoken about this before.
There are three possible outcomes in this war. (1) The West -- which is to say, humanity -- will lose. (2) The Moslems will reform their religion. (3) The Moslems will get wiped from the face of the earth. With "patriots" like Markos Moulitsas 'Kos' Zunigas and Senator Dick Durbin, it is up to the rest of us to determine whether the first outcome will occur. And with a "champion" like al Qaeda, it is up to the Moslems which of the last two will occur.
And finally, Nick Provenzo notes that the Roman Catholic Church has, disappointingly but not surprisingly, taken the wrong side, while Myrhaf notes the deafening silence of the leftist blogosphere on the subject.

All this reminds me of an episode from the time I got divorced in grad school and was still trying to find my bearings. I signed up for a group counseling session that turned out to be me and a bunch of women who, with only one exception, hated men. I quickly began to note a pattern. These harpies would sit around and listen to the words that left my mouth, ignoring their context and assigning their own politically correct meanings to the individual words. Then, when I said something they deemed sufficiently outrageous (i.e., thought they could get away with as an excuse to attack me), they'd all pounce on me.

For example, I once had the temerity to use the term "girl" to describe a woman I was interested in dating. The whole hour-long session was then wasted as it morphed into an attack on me for being insensitive! I spoke about this with a few female friends of mine later, all of whom agreed that what I'd said was not unreasonable, and that the group was completely out of bounds.

Needless to say, I soon quit the "therapy" group, but it taught me a valuable lesson about something Ayn Rand called the "sanction of the victim". Attacks like this work in large part because their victims accept the moral premises of their attackers. While I did not fall for this in group therapy, I saw how it worked, and this is being played out today all over Europe and the Middle East. There is a huge gulf of difference between incitement and doodling Mohammed. The West needs to remember that difference in a hurry, because radical Moslems are using the confusion as an excuse to wage war and demand dhimmitude.

[Clarification: I probably should make it more clear why this episode reminds me of the riots: The cartoons were not "incitement". They were an excuse to riot which the Moslems seized upon, calculating that the West is unclear enough about the underlying moral issues to fight back effectively. And what does this excuse buy? The Moslems, while being the actual aggressors here get to pose as victims, and hope to get away with what they are doing as a result. These cartoons no more injure Moslems than my calling a grown woman a girl harmed women.]

Moslems, who would not be able to coordinate their riots, or know about the cartoon, or even live at all in many cases without the help of Western technology and money (i.e., without the products of the unfettered Western mind) -- are permitted to live by Westerners who will not start dropping some well-deserved bombs (or at least stop sending aid to the likes of the Palestinian Authority). In fact, they are even are encouraged in their antics by those who, like the State Department or the Catholic Church, help them pretend that (1) murder and mayhem are excusable responses to what are at worst thoughtless remarks (or doodles) and (2) said doodles are incitement.

This whole unsavory spectacle is hardly a sign of Moslem power. It is a sign that the West, as a whole agrees on some level that the Moslems have the "right" to ram their prophet down our throats, as Nick Provenzo put it so well.

Furthermore: Whether it is polite or not to draw Mohammed, knowing that such is forbidden by Islam is a separate matter from whether one has the right to do so.


During an unrelated email correspondence, I connected some dots and confirmed that around noon last Friday, Myrhaf was my 30,000th site visitor since the middle of December 2004.

I thank him and all my other visitors for stopping by, and especially those who have provided me encouragement and constructive criticism of my writing over the past year.


Yesterday, Gumbo, Gus, and Mrs. Van Horn made an appearance at my good friend Raymund's Super Bowl hootenanny. He had a fun wagering system set up whereby you could lay multiple wagers on the point spread of the final outcome. I predicted a close game and so the wife and I came out over 50% ahead even though we spread our bets out evenly over both teams.

I was pleased with the result, but probably, since I have only loose ties to Pittsburgh and Seattle, not quite as much some of the Pittsburgh-based bloggers in my neighborhood, I am sure.

Katrina Crime

Yesterday's Houston Chronicle reveals more of the ugly truth behind the crime problem Houston imported from New Orleans after Katrina.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, Ivory "B-Stupid" Harris was living at 2800 Perdido, the parish jail. It was his home away from home.

The 20-year-old man had racked up a staggering list of arrests in New Orleans, including two on murder charges. But he was never convicted of any serious crime.

When New Orleans flooded -- five days after a local crime commission criticized police and prosecutors for doing a poor job of putting violent criminals behind bars -- Harris was one of thousands of inmates farmed out to jails throughout Louisiana.

And when he was released in Shreveport on Nov. 3, Harris became Houston's problem and a key figure in Houston's new crime controversy.

Harris is among 11 Katrina evacuees suspected of transferring their New Orleans turf battles to Houston and carrying out homicides, robberies and kidnappings that began after his release from Shreveport. Houston police classify the suspects as extremely violent.

Harris is still at large, and the police and public are pondering how much crime former residents of New Orleans brought to their host city.

Harris went back to his home territory at least once during the period in which he is suspected of committing crimes in Houston. He was arrested in New Orleans Jan. 4 on a criminal trespass charge and released on a $2,500 bail bond.

"Houston is feeling some of the pain from the failure of the New Orleans criminal justice system, " said Rafael Goyeneche, head of the watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans.

Harris, he said, is a prime example.
The article is a glimpse at a legal system (the one in New Orleans -- if you can call it either "legal" or a "system") that rewards bad behavior. For one thing, Harris often can't even go two weeks without some encounter with the law. For another, it sounds like a single activist judge accounted for over four fifths of the unconscionable bail reductions in New Orleans before Katrina!

No wonder Harris uses the name "B. Stupid". With a system like that in place, it arguably doubles as life advice.

-- CAV


Today: Added clarification to riot section.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if you could comment on Jake Wakeland's TIA article "President Bush Represents the Virtue and Vices Typical of the Honest American." I am growing increasingly dissapointed with TIA. They are seemingly at odds with almost every other Objectivist commentator I know. You are my favorite O'ist political and social commentator which is why I ask your opinion. Have Wakeland and Tracinski drank too much of Bush's Koolaid? I am starting to believe they have.

D. Eastbrook

Gus Van Horn said...


You said,

"You are my favorite O'ist political and social commentator which is why I ask your opinion. Have Wakeland and Tracinski drank too much of Bush's Koolaid?"

For the first sentence, thank you! For the second, well, I didn't become your favorite by parroting anyone else, and I won't start now.... (In other words, you already sound convinced that they're smoking weed over at TIA. I'm pretty unhappy with Bush for a lot of things, but I'm not so sure I'm going to go along with all those other commentators just yet.)

I don't have the time to answer this question as fully as it deserves and I honestly haven't thought all the way through it anyway. I think the essential difficulty is: "to what extent must one insist on a political candidate holding precisely the right principles before one can support him". And by "support", I am not worried about a single vote, but of the kind of support that really matters: that of influencing others to vote for him. (And contrary to what one fellow Objectivist blogger seemed to imply recently, one can do this without passing himself off as a conservative. I have lots of non-Objectivist readers who know better than to mistake me for a conservative....)

I briefly reviewed the various schools of Objectivist thought regarding Bush and the current war here, if you want to see a bit more detail. One quote is particularly relevant:

"I hope [Podhoretz] is right. For the reasons I have stated earlier, I am afraid that our nation as it is today would not elect a leader who would conduct the kind of ruthless war that is the only alternative to the civilizing process known as the forward strategy of freedom. While further adverse events might make a more forceful approach palatable to our public, our current political system and cultural milieu might still militate against such a candidate winning the election. This is why Podhoretz regards the 'super-hawk' position as unfeasible in today's foreign policy debate. And I think that the Kerry faction of Objectivists made the same error as they. To reiterate Podhoretz, 'To the extent that they bother taking account of the America that actually does exist, it is only its imperfections and deficiencies they notice; and these, along with the constraints imposed by the character of the nation on its elected leaders, they wave off with derisive language.'"

And one further point: Objectivists have had similar debates in past presidential elections. Typically, one candidate (usually the Republican) has a few concrete proposals that will improve things in the short term, but has a ghastly ideology. The other (usually the Democrat) has both a ghastly ideology and will damage our country in the short term. Invariably, I hear the argument from some Objectivists that we should choose the "greater of two evils" so that the bad ideology will get blamed for its results, making the public debate easier.

By that argument, we should have reelected Carter and whoever else the Democrats picked after him and so on, assuming we could still vote.

I am not sure exactly what the error is in this approach, but I think it lies in part in a failure to appreciate the fact that things do not necessarily have to go to hell in a handbasket before average Americans can appreciate intellectual arguments.

So Bush isn't fighting the war as hawkishly as we'd like (or as I stated in the post I point to above). He is at least fighting it and we remain free to criticise his efforts. Would Kerry have fought at all? Would we even have a blogosphere were he in office? Or talk radio? Or other alternative media? We can all thank another "lightweight" for those: Ronald Reagan, who deregulated the communications industry.

Don't get me wrong. I am massively unhappy with Bush's failure to communicate his intentions or appreciate the intellectual underpinnings of freedom. I am livid about his administration's tepid response to the Moslem cartoon riots. I hate his welfare statism.

But he is one of the better presidents, I am afraid, our electorate is capable of picking right now. I think the answer lies in giving him what he deserves: qualified support. This is different from tearing him down: It involves supporting his better policies and, when he falls down on the job, proposing to our fellow Americans better ideas and policies, so that they might pressure him to iprove now, or they might choose better next time.

Hope that helps.


Gus Van Horn said...

Oh yeah.

On your original question: I thought that Jack Wakeland's essay on Bush was quite good. I thought that at first it was too generous, but then it is being written for an audience that is hardly predisposed to like Bush, and which is awash with the contrary view.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. Actually, you made alot of sense and may have caused me to change my thinking on this. I appreciate it.

D. Eastbrook