Against my better judgment (there seems to be quite a bit of that going around these days), I’ve decided to engage with a post at the Urban Times that comes out against the Cordoba House Project in Lower Manhattan. Or, excuse me, the GROUND ZERO TERROR MOSQUE. Replies Nicolas Samson to my earlier objection:
My argument stems from a practical, pragmatic standpoint. I wish to avoid steaming [sic] ideology whether it is religious or secular, Christian, Muslim, republican, or liberal. My objections to building that mosque right now are just that, objections to building that mosque there, now. Freedom of religion has nothing to do with it. Bigotry has nothing to do with it. It’s all about the greater picture.
Freedom of religion has everything to do with it. That’s the entire point. Would you be just as opposed to a church, a synagogue, or a local chapter of the Richard Dawkins fan club opening up shop in the exact same spot? And what is the greater picture? Your objections to building a community center that includes a mosque seems awfully limited in its scope. The greater picture is who we are as a society and whether or not we can handle the consequences of our own rights and protections.
I sit down and ask myself, what is the coveted result? My answer is: An open-society America. Not a liberal America, not a kick-ass America, but an open-society America.
Well, you lost me when you decided that you didn’t want a kick-ass America.
Continue reading →
Hey, kids! Can you count the things wrong with this?
Hot on the heels of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report “Rage on the Right” comes the mechanized embodiment of that hatred. The license plate represents a missed opportunity on the part of the Virginia DMV, though to be fair, the symbology is rather obscure to normal people (and those who haven’t seen The West Wing):
The DMV agreed that the plate contains a coded message: The number 88 stands for the eighth letter of the alphabet, H, doubled to signify “Heil Hitler,” said CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper. “CV” stands for “Confederate veteran” — the plate was a special model embossed with a Confederate flag, which Virginia makes available for a $10 fee to card-carrying members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. And 14 is code for imprisoned white supremacist David Lane’s 14-word motto: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
Obviously one license plate on one pickup truck in one state of the Union is hardly emblematic of a coming tide of hate-based violence, but the brazenness with which it’s displayed is probably cause for concern. Hate and militia groups are on the rise, but unlike the paranoid groups of the Clinton years, these ones are openly carrying arms and declaring themselves in opposition to the United States government. The recent terrorism committed by Joe Stack and John Patrick Bedell are only the most obvious manifestations of the movement.
The DMV has since revoked the plates, but as one commenter asks, were they really the most inflammatory part?
Michael Moynihan has a scathing report on his recent journey to Libya. Highlights are below, but definitely read the whole thing. It’s like P.J. O’Rourke at his best.
When the BBC reported that “at Tripoli’s ultra-modern airport…you could be almost anywhere in the world,” I expected at bare minimum a Starbucks, a fake Irish pub, and…a bank of vending machines dispensing iPods … Well, perhaps we came through Libya’s spillover airport, its Midway or Stansted, because this is “anywhere in the world” only in some mad, dystopian-novel sense. Available for purchase are Egyptian gum, cheap watches celebrating 40 years of the Libyan revolution, and glossy magazines with Hugo Chavez on the cover.
Libya ought to at least resemble a wealthy country, with its vast oil reserves and all those desperate politicians willing to do almost anything in exchange for access to them. Yet Tripoli is covered from end to end in garbage.
Remove the oil economy, and it isn’t entirely clear what Libyans do for money. The only shops I spot are selling either vegetables or cigarettes, sometimes both. There are markets trading in all manner of junk: old sewing machines, toilets, fake perfume (Hugo Boos seems particularly popular). The most frequently promoted product…is, inexplicably, corn oil.
The pious Muslims of Libya are not unlike vegetarians, surrounding themselves with pointless facsimiles of the forbidden, from beef bacon to bottles of booze with all the booze removed.
Soon after arriving, along with three other journalists and one academic, we are…to meet the first group of terrorists recently released from Tripoli’s notorious Abu Salim prison. All are former members of the Al Qaeda farm team known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) … With every conversation, they sound more and more like the Women’s Auxiliary Balloon Corps of Al Qaeda.
Muslims protest Geert Wilders' appearance before Parliament, October 2009.
Something’s gotta give. No, seriously. Finally backlash seems to be mounting against the British government’s tolerance for extremist organizations (provided, of course, that they are Muslim). The trend is especially present in universities, however, where the constant mantra of “free speech” has somehow blocked out all voices, such as the BNP and others, with the sole exception of any Islamic or Muslim society.
The Christmas Pants Bomber has prompted a new bout of soul-searching as the west attempts to decipher the source of radicalization. Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka perhaps made the loudest and boldest claim, laying blame on Britain (“a cesspit“) – and not Nigeria – for the pants bomber’s radicalization.
Continue reading →
It’s widespread knowledge that many scientific and mathematical fundamentals can trace their lineage to the ‘golden age’ of the Arab world. Our numeral system, refinements in geometry and astrology, and other stepping-stones on the path to modern science originated in the Middle East between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. Of course, this period of
Austin Dacey has written an article called “The Decline of the Decline of Arabic Science,” in which he attempts to address the ‘withering’ characterization of Arab-Islamic science. According to the traditional description, the cutting-edge nature of Islamic thinkers began to peter out, until the West overtook the East by leaps and bounds. Instead, he writes, there was nothing preordaining our current state of physical knowledge.
A sort of ‘Whig interpretation‘ thus explains the Arab ‘failure’ to discover what the West eventually did. Happenstance, coincidence, and chance are the real underpinnings of modern science (and this actually begins to make even more sense when considering the chaotic behavior of sub-atomic particles and quantum mechanics). Which raises an even more intriguing question: in what other direction could science have gone?