Tuesday, 29 August 2006
I stand corrected
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At least semi-corrected—by Mary and Cisoux—as to the deeper cultural issues involved in the investigation by a government official into the use of the "sign of the cross" by a pro footballer at a game.

Dhimmitude?  Probably not.  Multi-culti lingo coming from a guvmint man?  It sounds that way to these American ears.  (It's also possible I'm just a bit cant-shy.)

Well, Play ball!

(Perhaps somebody can inform me why fan behavior in Europe is uncontrollable?)
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Posted on 08/29/2006 7:06 AM by Robert Bove
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Tuesday, 29 August 2006
Reciting the Shehada in Gaza
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As carried in Frontpage: Fox News journalists Steve Centanni and his accompanying cameraman Olaf Wiig were released on Sunday, August 27, 2006, following almost two weeks of captivity. While both men appeared to be in good physical health, the prognosis for their psychological state, and future journalistic contributions, is less sanguine. As depicted in this disturbing video, Centanni and Wiig were forced to convert to Islam, and recite an anti-Western diatribe, complemented by treacly Islamic apologetics.

During the brief press conference held almost immediately after their release, both men preferred to focus on the plight of the kind and benevolent denizens of Gaza. Momentarily acknowledging the coercive nature of their “conversion”, Centanni admitted off camera, “We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint”. But he felt compelled to add this bizarre disclaimer, “Don't get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it”, before concluding candidly “…it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns, and we didn't know what the hell was going on.” Centanni expressed his primary concern to the reporters gathered at the Gaza City Beach Hotel press conference as follows: “I hope that this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover the story because the Palestinian people are very beautiful and kind-hearted...The world needs to know more about them. Don't be discouraged.” Wiig reiterated these sentiments: “My biggest concern really is that as a result of what happened to us foreign journalists will be discouraged from coming to tell the story and that would be a great tragedy for the people of Palestine…You guys need us on the streets, and you need people to be aware of the story.” And Wiig’s wife thanked unnamed “Palestinian women” from Gaza for their “solidarity”.

Within moments of making these effusively conciliatory statements—despite having been held captive and forcibly converted to Islam—the freed kidnapping victims were whisked off to Israel. Notwithstanding their pious ecumenical pronouncements, Centanni and the Wiigs failed to linger and socialize with the “very beautiful and kind hearted” local Muslim residents of Gaza, even those Gazan women who had shown them such “solidarity.”

 

Forced conversions in Islamic history are not exceptional—they have been the norm, across three continents—Asia, Africa, and Europe—for over 13 centuries. Orders for conversion were decreed under all the early Islamic dynasties—Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, and Mamluks. Additional extensive examples of forced conversion were recorded under both Seljuk and Ottoman Turkish rule (the latter until its collapse in the 20th century), the Shi’ite Safavid and Qajar dynasties of Persia/Iran, and during the jihad ravages on the Indian subcontinent, beginning with the early 11th century campaigns of Mahmud of Ghazni, and recurring under the Delhi Sultanate, and Moghul dynasty  until the collapse of Muslim suzerainty in the 18th century following the British conquest of India.

 

Moreover, during jihad—even the jihad campaigns of the 20th century [i.e., the jihad genocide of the Armenians during World War I, the Moplah jihad in Southern India [1921], the jihad against the Assyrians of Iraq [early 1930s], the jihads against the Chinese of Indonesia and the Christian Ibo of southern Nigeria in the 1960s, and the jihad against the Christians and Animists of the southern Sudan from 1983 to 2001], the (dubious) concept of “no compulsion” (Koran 2:256; which was cited with tragic irony during the Fox reporters “confessional”!), has always been meaningless. A consistent practice was to enslave populations taken from outside the boundaries of the “Dar al Islam”, where Islamic rule (and Law) prevailed. Inevitably fresh non-Muslim slaves, including children, were Islamized within a generation, their ethnic and linguistic origins erased. Two enduring and important mechanisms for this conversion were concubinage and the slave militias—practices still evident in the contemporary jihad waged by the Arab Muslim Khartoum government against the southern Sudanese Christians and Animists. And Julia Duin reported in early 2002 that murderous jihad terror campaigns—including, prominently, forced conversions to Islam—continued to be waged against the Christians of Indonesia’s Moluccan Islands.

 

Given this enduring (and ignoble) historical legacy, it remains to be seen whether contemporary Muslim religious authorities—particularly those within Palestinian society, and affiliated with Hamas or Fatah—will condemn publicly the forced conversions of the kidnapped Fox reporters. Moreover, will they be joined by a chorus of authoritative voices representing the entire Muslim clerical hierarchy—Sunni and Shi’ite alike—from Mecca and Cairo, Qom and Najaf, to the Muslim advocacy groups in the West (such as CAIR in the United States, and the Muslim Council of Britain in England)—unanimous in their condemnation of this hideous practice, and formalized by a fatwa stating as much? Will such Muslim authorities at least recognize the acute predicament of Centanni and Wiig by issuing a fatwa stating that their “conversion”, being under duress, was not bona fide, condemning in advance any Muslim who might now attack these journalists for “apostasy” from Islam?


What should be gleaned from this harrowing Gazan spectacle of non-Muslim journalists being kidnapped, imprisoned for nearly two weeks, and coerced at gunpoint into converting to Islam, while condemning their own societies? We must avoid indulging fantasies (such as those already expressed by the kidnapped Fox reporters upon their release) triggered by understandable Stockholm Syndrome reactions, or learned, fearful dhimmitude. Unsettling realities of the historical continuum of forced conversion to Islam must be discussed. The living Islamic fanaticism of the past cannot be allowed to poison the present (and future), unchallenged by Muslims themselves.

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Posted on 08/29/2006 6:41 AM by Andy Bostom
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Tuesday, 29 August 2006
Preemptive dhimmitude in Strathclyde?
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It seems the famous "Beyond the Pale" has been located—in Scotland.  This, from the Daily Mail (h/t: Crusader):

The Catholic Church has condemned the cautioning of a Polish footballer for gestures which allegedly included blessing himself at an Old Firm match.

Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc was cautioned after complaints were made about his behaviour at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow in front of Ranger's fans.

Strathclyde Police investigated claims that Boruc, 26, angered a section of the home support after allegedly making the religious gesture at the start of the second half of the game on February 12.

Officers submitted a report to the Procurator Fiscal.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The procurator fiscal has issued an alternative to prosecution in this case.

"On this occasion, the actions included a combination of behaviour before a crowd in the charged atmosphere of an Old Firm match which provoked alarm and crowd trouble and as such constituted a breach of the peace.

"This quite properly resulted in the matter being reported to the procurator fiscal for consideration. Having looked at the full circumstances in this instance the public interest has been best served by the decision to resolve the matter with an alternative to prosecution."

But yesterday the Catholic Church said the Procurator Fiscal's reaction was "alarming".

Church spokesman Peter Kearney said: "It is extremely regrettable that Scotland seems to have made itself one of the few countries in the world where this simply religious gesture is considered an offence."

Nationalist leader Alex Salmond said he would be "demanding an explanation" for the Procurator Fiscal's decision.

He said: "It is ludicrous. If they had taken this to court then it would have been laughed out."

Multi-culturalist pomposity at its reeking finest, no?
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Posted on 08/29/2006 6:29 AM by Robert Bove
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Tuesday, 29 August 2006
question for Carl Ernst
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Dr. Carl W. Ernst, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leading scholar of Islam, received a major new prize from an Arab cultural organization in Cairo on July 4.

Ernst was awarded the prize for his recent book Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World (UNC Press). - from this news item

Why do I suspect that "Following Muhammad" would not be recognized by Snouck Hurgronje, or St. Clair Tisdall, or Sir William Muir, or Tor Andrae, or Maxine Rodinson, or David Margoliouth,or Joseph Schacht, or Ignaz Goldziher, as presenting a recognizable view of Muhammad, while the straightforward presentation of Muhammad's life, as set down by the most authoritative Muslim biographers, which is what Robert Spencer has done in his forthcoming (October 9) biography of Muhammad -- "polemical" and "unscholarly" as Ernst may try to dismiss it, as will 3/4 of the membership of MESA Nostra, while the remaining 1/4 will be secretly delighted with Spencer's book, and only wish that they had dared to produce something similar, but had too much, departmentally, to lose, so it required an intelligent outsider to do the necessary job, and Spencer came along, and did it.

A few years ago, entering freshman at the University of North Carolina were required to read "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations" by Michael Sells. This bowdlerized version of the Qur'an, turning it into some kind of cross between Rumi and Omar Khayyam, conveyed absolutely nothing to those hapless freshman about what Islam, or about what the Qur'an, is all about. Leaving aside the Sunna, reducing the Qur'an to those softer "Meccan" suras," it was a guide to nothing at all.

Sells himself, I think, may even be coming around to the fact that his recension has missed something. He may, by degrees, come to realize that his "Approaching the Qur'an" deceives. But he has his own investment in it, and perhaps his reluctance to realize the folly of offering young people, young Americans, a further prolonging of their misunderstanding and naive trust that "all religions teach the same thing" -- of course they don't -- might be understood on that basis (it would be fascinating to hear from Michael Sells himself on whether he now has just a bit of a doubt about what, for example, the great Western scholars of Islam, and of the Qur'an -- let's try to imagine what Crone or Hawting or Ibn Warraq or Luxenburg would make of this, or what any of the thousands of native speakers of Arabic who have become defectors from Islam would say about the pedagogic value of "Approaching the Qur'an."

Yet Carl Ernst, a professor at the University of North Carolina who taught Islam, was all for this exercise in disinformation. He saw nothing wrong, he saw everything right, in pushing this forced mental march through what essentially is no different from the propaganda of an army of apologists who, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, have been having the time of their lives pulling the wool, through the deployment of taqiyya and tu-quoque, over the eyes of all kinds of unsuspecting Infidels.

So at least one question -- not a debate question in the context of some non-appearance with Robert Spencer, but a question that has been waiting to be put, so that a clear answer might be given, needs to be pointedly put to Carl Ernst, who no doubt is infuriated by the notion that anyone outside the cozy and well-patrolled confines of MESA, MESA Nostra, should have the gall to ask him anything, much less expect him to supply an answer.

But such a question exists. And Carl Ernst owes an answer to that question, owes it to the affected students who in the past were required to derive their knowledge of Islam from "Approaching the Qur'an," owes it to the parents of those students, owes it to other faculty members in the University of North Carolina system who may not like the idea, may not approve of the idea, of that kind of apologetics calling into question support for the university, from intelligent and inquisitive alumni, and trustees, and members of the North Carolina legislature. Not everyone on that faculty is a wilting violet, not all will be inclined to defer to his "credentials" and his "expertise" quite so readily as he may think -- there are all kinds of deservedly self-assured people on the faculty there who may have taken it upon themselves, in the years since that brouhaha over Required Reading, to find out for themselves, by reading and studying, not only what the Qur'an contains, but what it means, and what "naskh" or abrogation means, and further, what the hadith are all about, and what is the tremendous significance of Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil, and every detail of his life, including the Khaybar Oasis attack, the decapitation of the Banu Qurayza, the assassinations of Asma bint Marwan and Abu Akaf, and of course little Aisha, on her swing, and with her toys.

And this is the question:

Why did you, Carl Ernst, who knows the contents of the Qur'an, knows about the interpretive doctrine of abrogation, knows the hundreds of violent verses against the Unbeliever, knows what the Qur'an has been taken to mean through time and space by Believers, knows of the uncompromising division between Believer and Infidel, knows what the Hadith -- the Hadith of Al-Bukhari and Muslim -- further offer as a gloss on the Qur'an, and what the Sira, the biography or biographies of Muhammad, offer by way of the Perfect Man suitable for emulation -- why did you not only see nothing wrong, but everything right with the idea of inflicting, as a requirement, on innocent incoming freshman, at a time when it was clear that an intelligent knowledge of Islam was important for reasons of national security, and was not something to be trifled with -- why were you so enthusiastic about the use of that so-called version of the Qur'an, that travesty known as "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations" (or was it "The Lyrical Suras" -- I forget) which even its compiler, one suspects, must be beginning to question.

Answer your colleagues. Answer those students and their parents. Answer discontented alumni, and trustees, and members of the legislature of North Carolina, some of whom will have the contents of this query made known to them, and not all of them are likely to be charitable when egregious examples of educational malpractice are brought to their attention.

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Posted on 08/29/2006 6:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 29 August 2006
Al Gore sips a dram
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Here's what he had to say at his Edinburgh book signing:  "For eight years I flew around in Air Force 2 and now I have to take my shoes off before I can get on a plane."

But not Air Force 1, thank you Mr. Bush.

F&W has more here.
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Posted on 08/29/2006 5:55 AM by Robert Bove
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Tuesday, 29 August 2006
Holiday reading
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I have been enjoying a few books on holiday, courtesy of Norfolk Library Service and WH Smiths of Norwich. The one I finished most recently is Margrave of the Marshes, the autobiography (in part) of the later John Peel, the DJ and music writer. I say part autobiography as he died unexpectedly in October 2004 and the book was completed by his family from his notes and their own knowledge.

His son describes his father as "immortalised in Pseuds Corner of Private Eye for writing that the music of Pink Floyd evoked the sound of dying galaxies."  It was his Sunday afternoon show Top Gear that was responsible in 1969 for forming my musical taste and introducing me to the sound of Marc Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex, Pink Floyd and David Bowie.  He also introduced reggae music to British radio.

His dry wit was a feature of his writing and later radio shows which were of more general interest. His wife  described how he would attempt to assist their daughter Alexandra with her school essays, with hints on how to hold a reader's interest.

"Dad" she reasoned "it's about female genital mutilation.  There's not a great deal of scope there for humour".  All credit to her school for raising the subject, and to her parents for discussing it, and being prepared to mention it.

I can recommend the book and not just to music lovers.

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Posted on 08/29/2006 5:36 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Tuesday, 29 August 2006
Dozy bint alert
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"Dozy bint" is a term I use for a Western woman who voluntarily assumes the yoke of Islam, or for a Western woman who is sympathetic to Islam, an ideology which, "as any fule kno", is the most misogynist on the planet.

Yvonne Ridley, a mediocre journalist, converted to Islam after being held captive by the Taliban. To call this Stockholm syndrome is an insult to the country that gave us Abba and a half-decent joke about a man in a chemist.

Recently she interviewed former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir "The Jews rule this world by proxy" Mohamad. With thanks to Harry's Place, a philosemitic blog of the "decent Left", here is a taster:

Enough said.

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Posted on 08/29/2006 3:41 AM by Mary Jackson
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Monday, 28 August 2006
The Anti-Kate
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Deroy Murdock's piece "Ready for Rudy" in the current (Sept. '06) issue of The American Spectator is a sort of riposte to Kate O'Beirne's piece in the NR before last.  (Though given the respective magazine production schedules, it can't have been intended that way.)  Murdock likes Rudy's chances, except he thinks the gun issue will give him big trouble.  Samples:

"While prominent Republicans can give more conservative speeches than Giuliani, one would have to reach back to Ronald Reagan for a leader who had _implemented_ more policies dear to the Right.  'He is America's most successful conservative currently in office,' columnist George Will wrote in October 1998..."

And:

"Giuliani is tough as hell.  It's impossible to imagine him leaving his veto pen unholstered for five and a half years, as did President Bush.  Boondoggles like Alaska's $220 million 'Bridge to Nowhere' would go nowhere with Giuliani in the sadlle.  At last, Republicans could stop preemptively capitulating to, rather than confronting, Democrats."

[Derb] I can't quite push away the thought that if Rudy is our next President, that will make GWB our....  David Dinkins.  Ouch!

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Posted on 08/28/2006 3:53 PM by John Derbyshire
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Pronouncing "Betjeman"
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Robert asks how to pronounce "Betjeman".

Betjeman was quintessentially English, which means that his name is pronounced so as to confuse foreigners.

It is pronounced in the same way as Beauchampsmain, that is  "Bitch-mun".

Not really. Bet-she-mun is about right.

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Posted on 08/28/2006 2:30 PM by Mary Jackson
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Duck and Cover the British Bulldog
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Thanks for flagging Kurtz on Iran, John.  It truly is superb. I emailed the piece to my remaining dovish friends.  They're all taking super-early retirement.  Maybe they know something without quite knowing it.

FYI: By the time I got to junior high, Duck and Cover was a game similar to Spin the Bottle. Innocent we were of some things then, knowing about others, I suppose.  
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Posted on 08/28/2006 2:17 PM by Robert Bove
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Billet doo
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As a fan of John Betjeman, I look forward to John Derbyshire’s article about him. I hope that Mr Derbyshire will not make the embarrassing mistake A N Wilson made in his new biography of the poet. From the Sunday Times:

 

HIS one regret, Sir John Betjeman once said, was that he had not had enough sex. So the late poet laureate’s biographer could be forgiven the thrill of discovery he felt when someone sent him a passionate love letter supposedly written by Betjeman to a mistress.

Now, however, it turns out that the poet, born 100 years ago tomorrow, never wrote the letter. Instead, A N Wilson, the biographer, admitted this weekend he had fallen victim to an elaborate hoax.

The trick was so successful that the letter has been published in Wilson’s new book Betjeman as evidence of the poet’s previously unknown “fling”.

The giveaway — and a clue that a bitter rival of Wilson’s may be behind the trick — is that the capital letters at the beginning of the sentences in the letter spell out a vivid personal insult to the biographer.

After a Sunday Times reporter pointed this out to him this weekend, Wilson reread the letter and said: “I should have smelt a rat . . . Obviously the letter is a joke, a hoax.”

The identity of the trickster is not known, but one acknowledged rival of Wilson has denied involvement. Bevis Hillier, author of a three-volume biography of Betjeman, said that, although he found Wilson “despicable”, he was “not guilty” of the hoax.

The “love letter” appeared to have been written by Betjeman in May 1944, 11 years after he had married Penelope Chetwode.

It was addressed to Honor Tracy, an Anglo-Irish writer with whom Betjeman worked at the Admiralty during the war.

So, what was this “vivid personal insult” that Wilson’s enemy had gone to so much trouble to bury in the hoax letter? Some witty piece of Swiftian invective? Well, let’s take a look at the capital letters and see what Wilson missed:

            Darling Honor

I loved yesterday. All day, I’ve thought of nothing else. No other love I’ve had means so much. Was it just an aberration on your part, or will you meet me at Mrs Holmes’s again – say on Saturday? I won’t be able to sleep until I have your answer.

Love has given me a miss for so long, and now this miracle has happened. Sex is a part of it, of course, but I have a Romaunt of the Rose feeling about it too. On Saturday we could have lunch at Fortt’s, then go back to Mrs H’s. Never mind if you can’t make it then. I am free on Sunday too or Sunday week. Signal me tomorrow as to whether and when you can come.

Anthony Powell has written to me, and mentions you admiringly. Some of his comments about the army are v funny. He’s somebody I’d like to know better when the war is over. I find his letters even funnier than his books. Tinkerty-tonk, my darling. I pray I’ll hear from you tomorrow.

If I don’t, I’ll visit your office in a fake beard.

All love, JB

Yes, that’s right: “A N Wilson is a shit.” Perhaps in due course we will find a forged letter in Bevis Hillier’s biography with the coded message: “Bevis is a butthead.”

 

Tinkerty-tonk.

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Posted on 08/28/2006 2:18 PM by Mary Jackson
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Morena -- Controversy Rages
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A reader from the Big Apple:  "Too skinny. In SG-1, has clearly done the Hollywood thing and dropped too much weight."

[Derb]  I confess I didn't see Friday's episode.  I hear the voice of Lord Curzon, on seeing a painting of his voluptuous wife, executed by an artist who had made her too willowy:  "Her curves!  Where are her lovely curves?"

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Posted on 08/28/2006 2:03 PM by John Derbyshire
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Betjeman on Doubt
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With a nod to Andrew Sullivan's new book and his aforementioned endorsement of skepticism and doubt, I return to John Betjeman, whose centenary is today.  Betjeman was a devout Anglican, but his poetry is full of doubts:

[On hearing some church bells at Easter, in the poem "Loneliness"]

...You fill my heart with joy and grief—
Belief!  Belief!  And unbelief...
And, though you tell me I shall die,
You say not how or when or why.

[On making small talk at a funeral, in the poem "Aldershot Crematorium"]

...And thus we try to dissipate our fears.
'I am the Resurrection and the Life':
Strong, deep and painful, doubt inserts the knife.

[On thinking about his own death, in the poem "Good-bye"]

...But better down there in the battle
Than here on the hill
With Judgement or nothingness waiting me,
Lonely and chill.

[On the Nativity story, in the poem "Christmas"]

And is it true?  And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall?

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Posted on 08/28/2006 1:57 PM by John Derbyshire
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Andrew Sullivan's New Book
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OK, just finished reading Andrew Sullivan's new book THE CONSERVATIVE SOUL. You need a generous interpretation of "reading" there — I was skimming a lot towards the end.  The book is in fact a bit of a palimpsest, one text arguing for a certain kind of conservatism, the other, one of Sullivan's attempts to reconcile the facts of his own homosexuality and Catholicism.  The former is interesting and quite rewarding; the latter, which pretty much takes over towards the end, is just tiresome.  (Note to Andrew:  It can't be done.)

 

That "certain kind of conservatism" is a restrained, non-ideological sort, emphasizing freedom over virtue.  "The great and constant dream of the conservative is to be left alone by his own government and by his fellow humans, as much as is possible."  ( p.242)  This restraint, based on a thinking man's doubt about the perfection, or perfectability, of our understanding (we hear a lot about Montaigne), goes to Sullivan's religion, too:  "If the acceptance and love of others as they are is the essence of Christianity, then the acceptance of our loneliness and doubt in a world far beyond our understanding is the core of all non-fundamentalist religion." ( p.222)

Unfortunately, as in the first part of that last quote, Sullivan's fundamental hedonism keeps breaking through the surface.  Did Jesus Christ really preach "the acceptance and love of others as they are"?  How does that jibe with, for example, "Go, and sin no more"?  Wasn't Jesus urging the woman taken in adultery to clean up her act?  In places, where Sullivan talks about the need to "let go ... of obsessing about laws and doctrines" ( p.207), he comes awfully close to saying:  "If it feels good, do it!"

The perennial present-centeredness of those who don't intend to reproduce themselves is also visible in several places.  "By letting go, we become.  By giving up, we gain.  And we learn how to live—now, which is the only time that matters."  What Sullivan is urging us to let go of here is not the base desires of our mortal clay—heaven forbid!—but the "ordeal of self-criticism and guilt" that might restrain them.  I'm no theologian, but I had the vague impression that ordeals of self-criticism and guilt were sort of the POINT of religious practice.  That highly un-Christian notion that the present is "the only time that matters" recurs—in fact, it is there in the book's penultimate sentence:  "Now—which is the only time there is."  (Compare John Maynard Keynes's remark that "In the long run we're all dead"—a sentiment we breeders have considerable trouble with.)

Leaving aside all the self-justification, though, I think Sullivan is broadly right about conservatism.  For the preservation of liberty, the skeptical, dry, philosophically modest conservatism that Sullivan argues for is a much better bet than any system based on a belief that human beings, or their societies, can be transformed by state power.

"How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!"

You can't square that with: "We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move."  The former is a truly conservative sentiment; the latter, a declaration of messianic intent, rooted in the conviction that one knows with certainty what is good for people — really, just a species of Leninism.  No wonder GWB has hardly vetoed anything.  There is a poli-sci theorem here somewhere, though Sullivan does not state it explicitly.  Something like:  Any government driven by "inner light" conviction of the absolute type, will spend recklessly.  You might be able to argue that the conviction is conservative, but you can't argue that the consequent spending (=vastly expanded state power) is.

Bottom line on the book:  Some good argument for modest, skeptical conservatism.  Too bad it had to be mixed up with all that "I-can-SO-be-gay-and-Catholic!" stuff.  But that's Andrew for you.

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Posted on 08/28/2006 1:38 PM by John Derbyshire
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Morena Alert
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A reader notifies me:

"I hope that you have not missed the news that Morena Baccarin is now appearing in Stargate-SG1.  She plays the now-matured genetically-manipulated child that they evil Aurai created to lead their conversion of our galaxy.  If you've dropped out of this series, this relatively new enemy consists of evil cousins of the ascended Ancients who built the stargates.  Morena first appeared this past Friday in the start of a two-parter.  I have no idea how long her role will last.  They do some odd things with her eyes that somewhat detract from her looks, but, hey, she's still stunning."

[Derb]  Odd things with her eyes?  They could give her a St*r Tr*k-style bumpy forehead, I'd still get hot flushes every time she appeared.

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Posted on 08/28/2006 1:32 PM by John Derbyshire
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Kurtz for SECDEF
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Stanley Kurtz ROCKS!  I am in the market for a fallout shelter.  Plenty on the internet.

Though thinking about this always reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode where the alarm goes off, the provident family piles into its fallout shelter, and the improvident neighbors then come round begging to be let in.  It's a swamp-the-lifeboat situation, so the family has to deny entry to the neighbors — to leave them to die!  Then it turns out the alarm was just a civil-defense drill...

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Posted on 08/28/2006 1:27 PM by John Derbyshire
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Our real mortal enemy
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Mark Steyn today in the NY Sun:

The great Canadian columnist David Warren argues that Islam is desperately weak, that it has been "idiotized" by these obsolescent imports of mid-20th century Fascism. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but, if Washington had half the psy-ops spooks the movies like to think we have, the spiritual neglect in latter-day Islam is a big Achilles' heel just ripe for exploiting.

From, "Think Again," the Warren column to which Steyn refers:

Contrary to generally received opinion, the West is not today under siege from Muslim fanatics because of a resurgence of Islam, but because of the West’s own moral and intellectual decline. Even Osama bin Laden knows this. The West invites attack, and the enemy’s strategy in attacking is paradoxically to hide his own weakness.

[...]

If I were a Muslim, with the inheritance of Islamic tradition behind me, I’d be deeply ashamed of the babbling idiots who claimed to speak for me. I would be very loud in contradicting them. Their ideology is tied to Islam, and constructed largely with an Islamic vocabulary and rough grammar, but hardly with an Islamic syntax. By this I mean, that it is inconceivable that anything resembling the “blovulations” of the Salafists, and Shia revolutionists of Iran, could emerge from a purely Islamic course of reasoning. There are too many extraneous elements. In the use of Islamic terms, there is too much slapstick and self-parody.

As many have now observed, the “Islamists” have semi-consciously spun together diverse ideological materials. They have borrowed uncritically from such 20th century totalitarian ideologies as Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Each of these European ideologies, itself simplistic, had previously played a part in Arab nationalism. The Hitler strain came right off a flight from Berlin, in the person of the satanic old Mufti of Jerusalem. You look at the fascist salutes in the Hezbollah warrior parades, and see that almost everything about these soi-disant “soldiers” is pathetically imitated from a melodrama on some other history channel.

Yes, it is the West's various weaknesses that invite the enemy to greater boldness.  Yes, those weaknesses may well destroy the West from within without benefit of Islamic push.  Yes, the enemy cuts a ludicrous figure.   BUT, it is Islam--and not, say, Taoism--which has grafted the spent ideologies of the West onto itself. 

There is something rotten about Islam, itself--right to the core.  And that is why there are no Muslims screaming at the "radicals Islamists."  As I said here before, "moderate" Muslims not only will not lift a finger to fight the "radicals" in their midst but they will be quite happy to reap the benefits--if there are benefits in the rubble--anytime the "radicals" win.  That includes "American" Muslims.  Poll them on it.  Oh, I forgot: Nobody dares ask them that question. 
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Posted on 08/28/2006 12:29 PM by Robert Bove
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Funny, he looked like a Jewish Israeli...
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 Daniel Pipes tells the tale:

An Italian named Angelo Frammartino, 25, espoused the typical anti-Israel views of a far-leftist, as he expressed in a letter to a newspaper in 2006:

"We must face the fact that a situation of no violence is a luxury in many parts of the world, but we do not seek to avoid legitimate acts of defense. … I never dreamed of condemning resistance, the blood of the Vietnamese, the blood of the people who were under colonialist occupation or the blood of the young Palestinians from the first intifada."

Actively to forward his beliefs, Frammartino went to Israel in early August 2006 to serve as a volunteer with ARCI, a far-leftist NGO, working with Palestinian children at the Burj al-Luqluq community center in eastern Jerusalem.

But on August 10, he was stabbed in a terrorist assault at Sultan Suleiman Street, near Herod's Gate in Jerusalem, twice in the back and once in the neck. He died shortly after, only two days before his planned return to Italy. The killer, soon identified as Ashraf Hanaisha, 24, turned out to be a Palestinian affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A resident of the village of Qabatiya in the Jenin area, Hanaisha apparently planned to attack a Jewish Israeli but made a mistake...

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Posted on 08/28/2006 10:56 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Monday, 28 August 2006
A Premature Anti-Multiculturalist
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This story, about an early martyr to political correctness, is worth reading.  A good man had his life wrecked because he spoke the truth... 20 years too soon.

Will Mr. Honeyford receive an official apology from any of those who persecuted him?  Ha ha ha ha ha!

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Posted on 08/28/2006 10:43 AM by John Derbyshire
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Betjeman Centenary
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The fine conservative English poet John Betjeman was born 100 years ago today. That's "conservative" as in "nostalgic Tory." Energetic, intellectual, forward-looking conservatives of the American type — like, for example, us bustling go-getters here at New English Review— would probably consider him a hopeless reactionary. He loved the Monarchy, old churches, and steam trains; he hated air-conditioning (which, in England, you can afford to do). He hardly seems to have noticed the U.S.A. I'll have a piece up in a day or two.

For a taste of Betjeman, try "The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel."

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Posted on 08/28/2006 10:38 AM by John Derbyshire
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