October 23, 2014

"Of all the questions in the liberal west, none is more forbidden to ask than why you are alive." "

Richard Fernandez in The Strong Hearse on why young teenage girls and boys are joining ISIS.

The liberal ideology is a very old and empty idea that is continuously undergoing cosmetic surgery to look young. Liberalism isn’t Western culture, but its corpse.  Our institutions without the animating spirit are but a coffin containing the expiring remains of a once great civilization. The box is painted in bright colors, but the young have looked inside it and seen what it contains: a demographically dying, self-hating and ultimately amoral culture that’s ready for its ghastly closeup.

And for want of an alternative to this corpse they go to the only flag permitted to fly by the corpse itself: ISIS. Too many people are looking at the offerings of  decadence and theocracy and tossing the coin .  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  The left believed it would be safe from rivals.  It feared Judaism and Christianity, but did not fear Islam, thinking it too hideous to compete.  Maybe it should reconsider.

Alduous Huxley understood that not everyone would buy into the Brave New World of the left. For all too many, the Obamacare and Obamaphones and Kim Kardashian diet won’t be enough. History shows the young always demand to know why men live and die. Snarky answers from Lena Dunham aren’t good enough any more. And of all the questions in the liberal west, none is more forbidden to ask than why you are alive. As Huxley pointed out, in the perfect future, which is our present, God will be pornography.
----
When we locked up the sacred writing of our civilization in a safe labeled ‘hate speech’; when we made it shameful to fly the flag, wear the uniform, or bow your head to something greater than the Great Leader what did we think we would get?  We got ISIS.

The Left believed they could abolish the transcendent without understanding that this process  risked abolishing man.  The Great Narrative strove to make man merely an animal, and in its stead they got a monster.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2014

How the 1571 Battle of Lepanto saved Europe

Michael Novak gives us all a history refresher course in October 7: The Feast of Our Lady of Victory

For those who know little history, today’s battle with the Islamic State in the Middle East may seem new and unprecedented. It is not.

In a.d. 622, Mohammed set out from Medina to conquer the whole Christian world for Allah by force of arms. Within a hundred years, his successors had occupied and pillaged every Christian capital of the Middle East, from Antioch through North Africa (home of Saint Augustine) and Spain. All that remained outside Allah’s reign was the northern arc from Southern France to Constantinople.

What we are seeing in 2014 has a history of more than 1,300 years — a very bloody, terror-ridden history. Except that today the struggle is far, far more secular than religious — a war over political institutions and systems of law, with almost no public argument over religious doctrine.

 Battle-Of-Lepanto

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:14 PM | Permalink

September 27, 2014

Jihad in America UPDATED

When Colleen Hufford woke up, she never could have imagined she would be beheaded at work.

Alton Nolen, who now goes by Jah'Keem Yisrael, a convert to Islam, decapitated Hufford and was stabbing Traci Johnson  with the intent of beheading her when he was shot and wounded by Mark Vaughan, CEO of Vaughan Foods and a reserve deputy sheriff carrying a concealed handgun

In a statement, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said:  "Mark put an end to the threat by shooting the suspect and saving the life of a second victim who was being actively attacked by the suspect.  There is every reason to believe that the lives of untold others were saved who would have been targeted by the suspect if it hadn't been for Deputy Vaughan’s actions."

Fired Muslim convert store-worker who beheaded female colleague lost his job 'in argument over stoning women'

The Muslim convert who allegedly beheaded a female co-worker was arguing with his colleagues about whether it is acceptable to stone women to death the day he launched his attack, it has been claimed.

Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, was trying to convince workers that Islam teaches that the punishment is acceptable on Thursday, shortly before he was fired from his job at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, according to local media. He returned the same day and lashed out at colleagues Colleen Hufford and Traci Johnson with a knife, police said.

He allegedly beheaded Ms Hufford and stabbed Ms Johnson - and would have continued his rampage had he not been shot by the store's CEO. According to Truth Revolt, a family told a local Oklahoma paper Nolen was telling co-workers about an unspecified Islamic teaching which - Nolen claimed - said women should be stoned for committing certain offenses.

He survived the injury and was hospitalized, while Ms Johnson remains in stable condition in hospital.

Now, it has emerged that Nolen apparently celebrated terrorism, promoted Islam and disparaged non-Muslims in a series of posts on Facebook in the months leading up to the alleged killing.  Under the name Jah'Keem Yisrael, the suspect posted an image of Pope Benedict XVI to the social networking site, accompanied by the caption: 'SHARIA LAW IS COMING!!'…..  Other posts saw Nolen reading the Koran, donning Muslim religious clothing, praying in a mosque and seemingly performing the one-figure salute of the Islamic State terror group.

Earlier this year, Nolen, whose Facebook cover photo appears to show several Taliban fighters, posted a photo of the 9/11 attacks, writing: 'A future prophecy revelation 18.8. She (the Statue of Liberty) is going into flames. She and anybody who's with her',

 Facebookbeheader Nolan posted this picture of himself on his Facebook page on Sept 5  standing in front of the gates of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City.  His caption read “At The Masjid (Mosque)Today For Jumar 9/5/2014 & Peforming Wudu!!!”

Roger Simon asks Have Our Prisons Become Jihad Factories

Was Nolen motivated by jihad or workplace revenge or a cocktail of both?  Probably both. He had a checkered past.  He had been convicted in January 2011 of “multiple drug offenses, assault and battery on a police officer and escape from detention,” according to state records.  He was released from prison in March 2013.

We don’t know the extent to which Nolen’s conversion to Islam occurred in prison, although it is highly likely most of it did.  This is surely worth investigating. Such conversions are a monumental powder keg in the process of going off.  From Wikipedia:

J. Michael Waller claims that Muslim inmates comprise 17-20% of the prison population in New York, or roughly 350,000 inmates in 2003. He also claims that 80% of the prisoners who “find faith” while in prison convert to Islam.[1] These converted inmates are mostly African American, with a small but growing Hispanic minority.[2] Waller also asserts that many converts are radicalized by outside Islamist groups linked to terrorism….

Just last June, Homegrown jihadist shoots N.J. teen 8 times, calling it a ‘just kill’

Brendan Tevlin, of Livingston, was stopped at a red light driving home from a friend’s house on June 25 when Ali Muhammad Brown allegedly walked up his car and fired 10 rounds, striking him eight times.

Mr. Brown then drove the car, with Tevlin’s lifeless body still in it, to a parking lot in West Orange and left him there, Fox News reported.

….Mr. Brown had undergone extensive Jihad training in California and that he’s suspected of additional murders throughout the country, a local Fox affiliate reported.

Mr. Brown allegedly called Tevlin’s death “a just kill” for Muslim deaths at the hands of Americans in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Who can forget the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hassan.  A former United States Army psychiatrist and Medical Corps officer, Hassan shouted Allahu Akbar! before fatally shooting 13 people and injuring more than 30 others at Fort Hood  on November 5, 2009. Prior to the shooting the Army and the FBI concluded that his many emails to the late Anwar al-Awiaki were in the nature of 'research' and that he was not a threat.  The Department of Defense called the mass shootings 'workplace violence.'  In 2013, after a court marital, he was convicted of 13 counts of murder and sentenced to death.

Nassan has written a letter to the leader of the Islamic State, Ameer, Mujahid Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

“I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State.”

UPDATE:  Ben Shapiro on seven other recent cases of lone wolf Islamic attacks inside the United States in recent years:

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:42 PM | Permalink

September 17, 2014

20th century jihad by the last Caliphate killed between 1-1.5 million Christians

Raphael Lemkin was a Polish Jew and a public prosecutor in Warsaw when he delivered a paper to the Legal Council of the League of Nations in 1933  calling the Crime of Barbarity (which evolved into the idea of genocide a name he coined)  a crime against international law.   

Late in life, he responded to an interviewer who asked him how he became interested in genocide, ""I became interested in genocide because it happened so many times. It happened to the Armenians and after the Armenians Hitler took action".

He joined the Polish army and  defended Warsaw when it was under siege and sustained a bullet wound to his hip. Evading capture by the Germans, he fled Poland for Lithuania and from there to Sweden where he received permission to enter the United States in 1941.  He became a special advisor to the War Department, and after the an advisor to Robert Jackson chief counsel at the Nuremberg trials, a distinguished scholar and professor of law. 

He was moved by the annihilation of between 1 - 1.5 million  Armenians and other Christians who were targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government under the guise of deportation, a crime of genocide which Turkey denies to this day.  Turkey has threatened those who write about the Armenian genocide with reprisals. It wasn't until 2010 that the U.S. Congressional panel voted narrowly that the Armenian holocaust was indeed genocide.

Wikipedia has an extensive article on the Armenian genocide from which I got the following two quotes:

Winston Churchill described the massacres as an "administrative holocaust" and noted that "the clearance of the race from Asia Minor was about as complete as such an act, on a scale so great, could well be. … There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race opposed to all Turkish ambitions, cherishing national ambitions that could only be satisfied at the expense of Turkey, and planted geographically between Turkish and Caucasian Moslems"

As a neutral state, Sweden maintained representatives in Constantinople (now Istanbul) during the entirety of WWI who reported on.the massacres.  What the ambassador wrote

In his report on 22 July, Anckarsvärd noted that the persecutions of the Armenians were being extended to encompass all Christians in the Ottoman Empire:

[The deportations] can not be any other issue than an annihilation war against the Greek nation in Turkey and as measures hereof they have been implementing forced conversions to Islam, in obvious aim to, that if after the end of the war there again would be a question of European intervention for the protection of the Christians, there will be as few of them left as possible."

On 9 August 1915, Anckarsvärd dispatched yet another report, confirming his suspicions regarding the plans of the Turkish government, "It is obvious that the Turks are taking the opportunity to, now during the war, annihilate [utplåna] the Armenian nation so that when the peace comes no Armenian question longer exists"

Andrew Bostom  writes  the Ottoman Caliphate of 1915-19 Exponentially Worse than ISIS

Notwithstanding the recent horrific spate of atrocities committed against the Christian communities of northern Iraq by the Islamic State (IS/IL) jihadists, the Ottoman jihad ravages were equally barbaric, depraved, and far more extensive.

Occurring primarily between 1915-16 (although continuing through at least 1919), some one million Armenian and 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox Christians were brutally slaughtered or starved to death during forced deportations through desert wastelands.

The identical gruesome means used by IS/IL to humiliate and massacre its Christian victims were employed on a scale that was an order of magnitude greater by the Ottoman Muslim Turks, often abetted by local Muslim collaborators (the latter being another phenomenon which also happened during the IS/IL jihad campaign against Iraq’s Christians).

Reverend K. Balakian’s eyewitness narrative Hai Koghota (The Armenian Golgotha) —  recounted the harrowing details of a particular slaughter at Yozgat, its Islamic religious motifs unexpurgated. Balakian quotes a Turkish gendarme who confirmed the Ottoman government’s sanction of this explicit act of mass-murderous jihad.  Regarding this particular massacre, Balakian laments:

It is impossible for me to convey what happened to those 6,400 defenseless women, virgins, and brides as well as suckling infants. Their heartrending cries and doleful pleas brought down the deaf canopies of heaven. The police soldiers in Yozgat (and Boghazliyan) who accompanied us would even boast to some of us about how they had committed tortures and decapitations, cut off and chopped up body parts with axes, and how they had dismembered suckling infants and children by pulling apart their legs, or dashing them on rocks.

More than one million Armenian city dwellers and peasants were savagely slaughtered and made to choke quietly on their own blood. Tens of thousands of Armenian males, lashed together with string or rope, were mercilessly butchered along all the roads of Asia Minor, or massacred with axes, like tree branches being pruned. The executioners were deaf to the crying and weeping of these wretched victims, even to their pleas to shoot them so that they might escape the torment: the order had come from on high and the jihad against the Armenians truly had been proclaimed. Yes, it was necessary to mercilessly slaughter them until not a single Armenian was left within the confines of the Ottoman Empire.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2014

"What if the West has already been conquered, but simply doesn't know it yet?"

The Anchoress Do The Rapes of Rotherham Tell a Tale of Conquest?

What Rotherham puts me in mind of is the behavior of the conqueror. One of the terrible after-effects of invasion and war has been the subjugation of the women, the rape of wives and daughters, the seed of the conqueror, inserted into a culture and a society — yet another tactic meant to subdue and eradicate.

And yet, there has been no old-fashioned “invasion” and no “war” in the southern part of Yorkshire. This conquering was invited, and it was invited throughout Europe, where Rotherham will be discovered to have been replicated. Why wouldn’t it be? Who in Europe would dare to prosecute?
--
Rape and subjugation is one way to conquer a people. Getting them to destroy themselves is another. A conquest is a conquest. For that matter, one needn’t use a blunt knife to behead a culture; you just blunt their thinking as much as possible.

What if the West has already been conquered, but simply doesn’t know it yet, because a painless coup happened while the West was naval gazing, or buried in its twitter feed?

Mark Steyn on the Reformation of Manners

the individuals who presided over this regime destroyed the lives of 1,400 people in their care, and have paid no price for it. Indeed, some have been promoted, and put in charge of even more children: Sonia Sharp, who was head of child services in Rotherham, is now in an equivalent position Down Under for the entire state of Victoria.

Meantime, the fear of being perceived as "racist" prevails even in the news stories about how terrible it is that nobody did anything. As James Delingpole explains, if you have to get specific about the perpetrators, the preferred euphemism is "Asian", a word that in Fleet Street doesn't mean Chinese or oriental but persons deriving from the Indian sub-continent. This is, apart from anything else, grossly unfair to Hindus. The men who raped and tortured these girls were, in Rotherham as elsewhere, mostly Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. And their victims were not.
--
So now, in the new multiculti Britain, the child sex trade is back, as part of the rich, vibrant tapestry of diversity - along with Jew-hate, and honor killings, and decapitation porn. The solutions to the internal contradictions of multiculturalism are (a) David Cameron's expanded security state; (b) Afsun Qureshi's universal prostration before Islam; or © an end to mass Muslim immigration. The last is too obvious for any viable western politician ever to propose it.
--
That leaves Wilberforce's "reformation of manners" - on a scale he never contemplated, and with a self-segregating community extremely resistant to outside influence. Meanwhile, leaders such as David Cameron keep hoping that somehow all these excitable young men with their surplus energies will embrace "British values", without ever being able to say what these "British values" are, other than the stuff Yorkshire schools teach as the source of all the evils in the world - imperialism, racism, colonialism, etc. And even as we dither, in Rotherham and elsewhere, Islam is already reforming our manners. As I wrote the other day, slowly, remorselessly, we are becoming them.


Yet the reporting in the New York Times, the so-called 'paper of record' fails to mention

what for many other mainstream news reports is the key issue: the investigation traced the local government officials’ inaction primarily to fears of offending the Muslim community. […]  The religion angle is completely absent from the Times article. 
---
This story points to the problem of Muslim integration in Europe (and elsewhere). Policy elites have authorized mass immigration without much public discussion or consent, and the cultures and values aren’t mixing well (exacerbated by horrible economic problems in much of Europe, thanks also to the elite’s euro fiasco). These factors combine to create a potentially explosive situation on the ground. Readers of the Times won’t understand this very well and will miss one of the key issues driving European, and therefore world, politics.

Rebecca Hamilton  Rotherham and the Cowardly Act of Offering Up Young Girls to the Dragon of Misogyny

We are being told that the local police and the rest of the community were so fearful of being called out by the forces of political correctness that they offered up their city’s young girls to avoid it. This echoes tales of heretofore mythical villagers, offering up their daughters to appease the dragon. Only this is real life.
---
I’ve been reading for months about ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, kidnapping Christian girls, and raping them and selling them into sex trafficking. Boko Haram kidnapped almost 300 school girls for the express purpose of selling them into sex slavery. In other news, we have the Sidney gang rapes of Australian girls by Australian nationals of Lebanese Muslim descent, and the gang rapes in Holland by men of Turkish and Moroccan descent.

Does anybody see a pattern here?

The politically correct crowd can yak about “racism” and “Islamaphobia” all they want. What we are dealing with is violent and vile misogyny of almost mind-boggling proportions. And it’s not just the rapists who are misogynists. Whole countries — entire nations — are willing to sacrifice their girls to the dragon of politically-correct lies.  The Rotherham police can now join the cops of Juarez who allowed young women to be kidnapped, raped and tortured to death and would not lift a finger.
--
We also have a pattern of one particular group of people — of whom the Rotherham rapists are a part — engaging in terror tactics against helpless civilians in a number of places around the world. Not only do they kidnap/rape/enslave and sell young girls, they burn, behead and annihilate whole populations.
---
We justify it with self-righteous claims that anyone who speaks against it is a racist who hates Muslims. The obvious response to that is Who is the racist here? Who is raping whom?

I, for one, do not hate Muslims. I believe that there are a lot of Muslims who feel trapped between these rapists and the larger society. But we do those people no good by allowing the savages among them to run free and terrorize all of us, including them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

September 2, 2014

The Last Empire

The Arab Empire Arabs are not indigenous to most of the land they control.

Nothing angers an Islamist like an infidel occupying Muslim land. The political Left has a taboo along the same lines; no memory is reviled like those of the old empires…..

In some ways, the anti-imperialists are right — historically, empires have been a hit-or-miss proposition. The British Empire built roads and schools, the Roman Empire built roads and baths and murdered a great many people, the Mongol Empire murdered a great many people and built a pyramid using 90,000 of their heads.  But whether or not empires deserve the hatred that has been heaped on them since World War II, they’re mostly a thing of the past. The Mongols rule only Mongolia, the Romans have melted into a nation of well-dressed womanizers, and the sun sets on Britain every day. With the Soviet Union gone for 20 years now, there’s really just one great empire left: the Arab Empire.

When people think of indigenous peoples of the Middle East, they think of Arabs — but in the grand scheme, the Arabs are new to most of the territory they control. Striking out from the Arabian Peninsula around 600 a.d. with their new Muslim message, they conquered, converted, and murdered their way into ethnic dominance from Iraq to Morocco. Today’s Egyptians are not descendants of the Egyptians who built the pyramids — though the bitterly oppressed Copts might be. Moab and the Moabites have disappeared, the Lebanese of antiquity were Phoenician, the Philistines were not Palestinian. In fact, only one nation west of Persia weathered the storm of Arab expansion and reestablished self-governance: the Judeans.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:18 PM | Permalink

September 1, 2014

Quote of the day

From Instapundit's unnamed friend.

Let’s accept, arguendo, that the outgoing DIA chief is right, and that we are now in an era of danger similar to the mid-1930s. How did we get here? It’s worth looking back into the mists of time — an entire year, to Labor Day weekend 2013. What had not happened then? It’s quite a list, actually: the Chinese ADIZ, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the rise of ISIS, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fall of Mosul, the end of Hungarian liberal democracy, the Central American refugee crisis, the Egyptian-UAE attacks on Libya, the extermination of Iraqi Christians, the Yazidi genocide, the scramble to revise NATO’s eastern-frontier defenses, the Kristallnacht-style pogroms in European cities, the reemergence of mainstream anti-Semitism, the third (or fourth, perhaps) American war in Iraq, racial riots in middle America, et cetera and ad nauseam.

All that was in the future just one year ago.
--
But the larger point here is not what’s happening, because what’s happening is obvious. Things are falling apart. The point is how fast it’s come. It takes the blood and labor of generations to build a general peace, and that peace is sustained by two pillars: a common moral vision, and force majeure. We spent a quarter-century chipping away at the latter, and finally discarded the former, and now that peace is gone. All this was the work of decades.

Look back, again, to Labor Day weekend 2013, and understand one thing: its undoing was the work of mere months.


It reminds me of this quote from Will and Ariel Durant

"Out of every hundred new ideas ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace.

No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for those are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history.

For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:25 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2014

"‘I didn’t want to appear racist’ is the ‘I was only obeying orders’ of our age"

From Rotherham , a large town in South Yorkshire of about  258 thousand comes the horrifying, appalling report of police, councilmen and social workers allowing mainly white girls as young as 11 to be raped, threatened with death and turned into sex slaves by Pakistani gangs so no one could accuse them of being racist.    A grotesque sacrifice of young girls on the altar of political correctness.

You can be sure that none of them will be punished and taxpayers will bear the cost of damage awards of the civil suits that are sure to follow.

Rotherham sex abuse scandal: 1,400 children exploited by Asian gangs while authorities turned a blind eye

More than 1,400 children were sexually abused over a 16 year period by gangs of pedophiles after police and council bosses turned a blind eye for fear of being labelled racist, a damning report has concluded.

Senior officials were responsible for “blatant” failures that saw victims, some as young as 11, being treated with contempt and categorized as being “out of control” or simply ignored when they asked for help.

In some cases, parents who tried to rescue their children from abusers were themselves arrested. Police officers even dismissed the rape of children by saying that sex had been consensual.

Downing Street on Tuesday night described the failure to halt the abuse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, as “appalling”.  Following the publication of the report, the leader of Rotherham council, Roger Stone, resigned, but no other council employees will face disciplinary proceedings after it was claimed that there was not enough evidence to take action.

New York Times 

A report released on Tuesday on accusations of widespread sexual abuse in the northern England city of Rotherham found that about 1,400 minors — some as young as 11 years old — were beaten, raped and trafficked from 1997 to 2013 as the local authorities ignored a series of red flags.

Some children were doused in gasoline and threatened with being set on fire if they reported their abusers, the report said, and others were forced to watch rapes and threatened with the same fate. In more than a third of the cases, the victims appear to have been known to child protection agencies, but the police and local government officials failed to act……

The vast majority of perpetrators have been identified as South Asian and most victims were young white girls, adding to the complexity of the case. Some officials appeared to believe that social workers pointing to a pattern of sexual exploitation were exaggerating, while others reportedly worried about being accused of racism if they spoke out. The report accused officials of ignoring “a politically inconvenient truth” in turning a blind eye to men of Pakistani heritage grooming vulnerable white girls for sex.
---
Some officials were apparently ordered by their managers to withhold information on the ethnic origin of the abusers, the report said. As a result, no contact was made with local Pakistani leaders for help in identifying gangs that continued to assault and abduct teenagers.


Some Pakistani councillors in Rotherham 'blocked attempts' to tackle child abuse… and some 'tried to force social workers to reveal the refuges where domestic violence victims were staying'

Sue Reid 'I was called a liar and a racist for exposing this sex gang abuse horror'

Even those of us who warned for years of young girls being traded in provincial towns as sex slaves were shocked at yesterday’s revelations of the scale of the crimes.  Particularly shameful was the silence of police, councillors and senior social workers. For crucial information about the crimes that had been given to the authorities — often by parents frantic about their daughters going missing or turning up drunk and dishevelled late at night — was either suppressed or ignored.

And so the brutal street-grooming and sexual abuse went on for 16 years. One girl quoted in the report says she thought ‘gang-rape was a usual part of growing up’.
-
--
It is vital to stress two important things. First, that the great majority of Asian men are law-abiding citizens with strong family values. Second, that rape and pedophilia are problems across all sectors of society and have nothing to do with race and ethnicity.
Yet the responsibility for these crimes to continue unpunished for so long lies with the weakness of those authorities whose duty it is to care for the vulnerable.
---
Speaking on conditions of strict anonymity because she fears for her safety even though she has now left the town, one of the early victims of the Rotherham gangs told me that she was at primary school when she was first attacked. ‘One minute I was playing with dolls, the next I was a sex slave.’

'I saved all my clothes I was raped in but the police lost them and said it was my word against his': Shocking claims of Rotherham sex abuse gang victim whose parents sent her abroad when authorities failed to protect her

The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards

White experts and officers have for too long been reluctant to confront serious offences committed by black and Asian people. Such extreme tolerance is the result of specious morality, that credo that says investigating such crimes would encourage racism or enrage community activists and leaders, or, worse, make the professionals appear racist. So, instead of saving children who were being gang raped, drugged, assaulted, threatened and terrorised, they chose to protect rapists, abusers, traffickers and drug dealers. And themselves.
---
The perpetrators are not pedophiles in the normal sense of the word. Racial and cultural odium as much as ugly lust and power drives them to abuse. Most of them are also irreversibly misogynist. It is a lethal mix, this sexist psychopathy.

I partly blame their families and communities. Too many Asian mothers spoil their boys, undervalue their girls, and demean their daughters-in-law. Within some British Asian circles, the West is considered degenerate and immoral. So it’s OK to take their girls and ruin them further. Some of the most fierce rows I have ever had have been with Asian women who hold these disgusting views.

Ann Althouse “I’d like to see more detail about this ‘fear of being thought as racist.’ It sounds like a confession of deliberate law enforcement paralysis, a choice to permit thousands of children to be raped for decades on end, because of befuddlement about how on earth to begin to do anything without looking bad or because of a sense that your community is already hopelessly overwhelmed by evil forces that will only become more aggressive and violent if opposed.”    Perhaps they need to consider the possibility that there are worse things than being thought racist. Of course, if that idea were to spread, a powerful tool of social control would vanish.

"Political Correctness is Fascism Pretending to be Manners"  Bookworm Room

‘I didn’t want to appear racist’ is the ‘I was only obeying orders’ of our age writes Ed West in the Spectator

How could this have happened? A clue is given by the report’s authors, who state that ‘several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist’.

Racism has become so hysterical a subject that it has crowded out all other moral concerns, including in this case the concern to look after children…..

Political correctness was supposed to make us nicer, but in reality it just makes people stupider. As anyone who has done any sort of online test will tell you, much of human intelligence comes down to pattern recognition; the whole purpose of political correctness is to stop us noticing patterns even when they stare us in the face.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

August 21, 2014

"Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here"

Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.

Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims.  Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles.  You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values.  If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.

Archbishop Amel Nona, Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, now exiled in Erbil  source

In the NYT, Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress writes Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?

WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.

The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.

---
Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
---
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death. It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.

“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”

This week, 200,000 Aramaeans fled their ancestral homeland around Nineveh, having already escaped Mosul.

The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene…..

The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 PM | Permalink

August 19, 2014

An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is "the most significant threat" to the U.S. and our allies in the world.

In the Wall Street Journal, James Woolsey former director of the CIA warns us of  The Growing Threat From an EMP Attack  A nuclear device detonated above the U.S. could kill millions, and we've done almost nothing to prepare.

In a recent letter to investors, billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer warned that an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is "the most significant threat" to the U.S. and our allies in the world. He's right. Our food and water supplies, communications, banking, hospitals, law enforcement, etc., all depend on the electric grid. Yet until recently little attention has been paid to the ease of generating EMPs by detonating a nuclear weapon in orbit above the U.S., and thus bringing our civilization to a cold, dark halt……

What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.
--
What to do?

Surge arrestors, faraday cages and other devices that prevent EMP from damaging electronics, as well micro-grids that are inherently less susceptible to EMP, have been used by the Defense Department for more than 50 years to protect crucial military installations and strategic forces. These can be adapted to protect civilian infrastructure as well. The cost of protecting the national electric grid, according to a 2008 EMP Commission estimate, would be about $2 billion—roughly what the U.S. gives each year in foreign aid to Pakistan.

When the lights go out forever…

It is ironic that, in just a handful of generations, America’s dependence on electricity and computer technology is absolute. Its disappearance would lead to the collapse of civilization, a prospect which must look quite enticing to those actors who wish to do America harm.
----
Can this dark future be prevented? Of course, but the will to address this threat in Washington apparently does not exist.


Tech companies and influencers seek to prevent EMP damage

Concern over the destruction inflicted by an EMP attack from North Korea has heightened since Congress created the first Congressional EMP Commission in 2001, but the electric grid’s vulnerability to disruptions associated with solar flares has been known for more than 150 years.

Industry watchers attribute the grid’s poor security to turf wars involving the federal government’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the international nonprofit North American Electric Reliability Corporation, as well as a lack of urgency by both organizations

The Foundation for Resilient Societies, in a July op-ed in the Capitol Hill publication The Hill, for example, blasted NERC and FERC for a May 2013 vote against improving the physical security standards for the grid after six men with AK-47 machine guns shot up a substation in California.

Only after FERC report about leaked almost a year later did the agency pressure NERC to improve physical security

Sifma: Terrorist Attack Could Temporarily Drain Account Balances

Wall Street’s biggest trade group has proposed a government-industry cyber war council to stave off terrorist attacks that could trigger financial panic by temporarily wiping out account balances, according to an internal document.

The proposal by the Securities Industry and Financial Market Association calls for a committee of executives and deputy-level representatives from at least eight U.S. agencies including the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security….

“The systemic consequences could well be devastating for the economy as the resulting loss of confidence in the security of individual and corporate savings and assets could trigger widespread runs on financial institutions that likely would extend well beyond the directly impacted banks, securities firms and asset managers,” Sifma wrote in the document, dated June 27.

The cost of protecting our electrical infrastructure is so small - $2 billion - and the devastating impacts of an EMP attack so horrendous and immediate, there should be not a single Congressman who is opposed to it, no matter what their political persuasion.  I urge you to demand that your Congressman or candidate for Congress go on record as to the urgent need for legislation and immediate action to protect this country's electrical grid. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:39 PM | Permalink

July 28, 2014

One hundred years ago, the Great War began

It is impossible to overestimate the effect of World War I.  This summer and for the next four years we will learn what we didn't know about the Great War and its disastrous effects on millions of lives across the world

The War That Broke a Century  Peggy Noonan

A king, a kaiser, a czar—all were undone as they realized what they had unleashed with World War I….. It was the great disaster of the 20th century, the one that summoned or forced the disasters that would follow, from Lenin and Hitler to World War II and the Cold War. It is still, a century later, almost impossible to believe that one event, even a war, could cause such destruction, such an ending of worlds.

History still isn't sure and can never be certain of the exact number of casualties. Christopher Clark, in "The Sleepwalkers" (2013), puts it at 20 million military and civilian deaths and 21 million wounded. The war unleashed Bolshevism, which brought communism, which in time would kill tens of millions more throughout the world. (In 1997, "The Black Book of Communism," written by European academics, put the total number at a staggering 94 million.)

Thrones were toppled, empires undone. Western Europe lost a generation of its most educated and patriotic, its future leaders from all classes—aristocrats and tradesmen, teachers, carpenters and poets. No nation can lose a generation of such men without effect. Their loss left Europe, among other things, dumber.

Ghosts of the First World War: Century-old photos of soldiers marching down our streets superimposed on modern-day images
The new photos by Getty Images photographer Peter Macdiarmid have been matched up with archive shots from various image banks.

 Wounded Wwisoldiers Beach
Indian soldiers who were wounded fighting at Flanders recuperate on Bournemouth beach in 1917, while modern-day visitors are also seen there

In the National Geographic, an  Interview with British historian David Reynolds on his  book  The Long Shadow
The Great War, as it came to be known, lasted four years, from 1914 to 1918. But its aftereffects haunted Europe and the rest of the world through the 20th century—and are still felt in our own times.  It helps explain today's bloodshed in the Middle East

Rapunzel-like display outside the Tower of London launched as more than 800,000 ceramic poppies will be planted over the summer to commemorate the First World War

A ceramic poppy will be planted in the Tower's moat for each allied victim.  More than 800,000 poppies will be planted before Armistice Day in November

 Poppies Londontower

In the Atlantic World War I in Photos: Introduction  by Alan Taylor

 Archduke Ferdinand+Sophie

In 1914, Austria-Hungary was a powerful and huge country, larger than Germany, with nearly as many citizens. It had been ruled by Emperor Franz Joseph I since 1848, who had been grooming his nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand as the heir to the throne. In this photo, taken in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, a visiting Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Czech Countess Sophie Chotek, are departing a reception at City Hall. Earlier that morning, on the way to the hall, their motorcade had been attacked by one of a group of Serbian nationalist assassins, whose bomb damaged one car and injured dozens of bystanders. After this photo was taken, the Archduke and his wife climbed into the open car, headed for a nearby hospital to visit the wounded. Just blocks away though, the car paused to turn around, directly in front of another assassin, who walked up to the car and fired two shots, killing both Franz Ferdinand and his wife. (AP Photo)

How the Peace Pope Almost Put an End to the First World War

Under Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922), the Vatican became a center for effective Christian peace activism. Benedict took office on September 3, 1914, a nightmare moment in European history. …..

In November 1914, he protested, “There is no limit to the measure of ruin and of slaughter; day by day the earth is drenched with newly-shed blood, and is covered with the bodies of the wounded and of the slain. Who would imagine, as we see them thus filled with hatred of one another, that they are all of one common stock, all of the same nature, all members of the same human society? Who would recognize brothers, whose Father is in Heaven?”    In 1916, he famously lamented “the suicide of civilized Europe.”
----
Benedict also offered strictly practical plans for limiting the conflict…..In retrospect, though, Benedict’s ideas impress by their practicality. If his principles sound familiar, that is because they were substantially incorporated into Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points of the following year, which supplied the terms on which the defeated Germans finally accepted an Armistice. Carried out on the lines Benedict envisaged, his 1917 scheme might well have avoided the disasters of the post-1918 world, and even the Second World War.

Life on the eve of war

We’ve delved into the Telegraph’s archives and read the newspapers of 1914. They show just how unaware we were of the horrors ahead. This is the life Britain unwittingly left behind…..What is so unnerving reading the Telegraph in those days after the assassination was the way life carried on as normal. People continued to browse dress patterns, plan weekend drives, tear out recipes and queue at cinemas, quite oblivious to what was coming. This is the life they were about to leave behind forever.

….Fashion -Outfits called “ready-mades” had arrived in the West End shops and women began daring to go hatless,
…..Cars and planes -There are fewer fatalities on the roads now than there were before the First World War, despite there being eighty times more motor vehicles. Danger seemed dashing, and brakes could be a little tricky, back then.
….Food -Tinned food was all the rage, as were cookery books and new home refrigeration devices. But we still hadn’t learned to prepare vegetables properly.
….Art & Culture.  Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford reigned supreme at the cinema, Serge Diaghilev was a sensation at Drury Lane and the works of a young Pablo Picasso shocked the nation.
….Women’s Rights - The Telegraph called it “a hopeless exercise” but the suffragettes were bolder than ever in their fight for women's right to vote in 1914.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:49 PM | Permalink

July 26, 2014

"The cumulative deconstruction has cheapened everything we fought for and everything we might fight for"

From one of the best essayists of our time, Richard Fernandez at the Belmont Club writes When God Goes Fishing

There are some subjects that are almost too large for literature, even for Tolstoy, who tried to answer the question “how should one live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world?” by following  the fortunes of  characters in his novel War and Peace.

Some characters seek fame, others  sensual gratification, a few — like Napoleon — pursue an egotistical sense of power. But altogether too many of the rest are content to gnaw their way through the world like insects, not only incapable of answering Tolstoy’s question but unable to even ask it.

Some even want to meet God,  a few glimpse the answer fleetingly and are content. One suspects the present time, like 1812 is a special era, one when more people than usual ask: ‘where is God in this amoral world?’ The answer may be that  ’God is away on one of His customary disappearances’.  For one of the hallmarks of historical discontinuity is that God vanishes temporarily, during a time when old loyalties, ideologies and beliefs lose their power to bind.

The last 70 years have been spent dismantling the mental world of our fathers;  in teaching us about the corruption of America, the emptiness of patriotism and the hypocrisy of organized religion.  But along the way it has had to admit to the brutality of Communism, the fatuousness of manufactured causes, and the perversity of Hollywood.

That cumulative deconstruction has cheapened everything we fought for and everything we might fight for. Like Tolstoy’s characters in 1812, it  has left us with nowhere simple to turn; with no easy way to live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world.
---
Today, as Russian troops mass on the border of Ukraine, move rockets to the frontier; as the Middle East goes up in flames and Central Americans flood the southern border the question is not only what is there left to defend but why it should be.  What for?

For the sake of a land grabbed from the Indians?

For the salvation of a nation founded on slavery?

In the name of a God that doesn’t exist?

To preserve a constitution authored by old white men that is a hundred years old and nobody reads any more?

Which leaves us almost where Prince Andrei was on the fields of Borodino……
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:51 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2014

ISIS to Christians in Mosul: 24 hours to leave or be beheaded

The "final solution" underway in Iraq for all Christians and few care.

Christian Holocaust Underway in Iraq.  USA and World Look Away  by Sebastian Gorka

When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003, there were at least 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Over the last ten years, significantly in the last few months with the emergence of ISIS, that figure has dropped to about 400,000.

One of the world’s leading experts on asymmetric warfare, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, “in the last 48 hours, ISIS, which is now called the Islamic State in Mosul, has painted the letter “N” for Nazarene on the houses of all the surviving Christians in the city. ISIS has basically given an ultimatum to all the Christians left: You can either flee or convert to Islam, or we will kill you.”

Gorka points out that, over the last 20 years, America has stood up around the world to save Muslims. “Whether it was to save the Muslims in Bosnia or the Albanians, Kosovars, and Muslims in Serbia, it is now time for a humanitarian operation to save the remaining Christians in Iraq,” he said. “It is time for the American people and our representatives to do something for our co-religionists remaining in the Middle East.”

Marlow observed that the blatant religious cleansing is horrifying and asked Gorka: “Why is it that the mainstream press is not interested in the story?” Gorka first responded by saying "Let's face it, this is a Christian version of the Holocaust and nothing less.” ….. the media is “post-modernist, sophisticated, and secularist. So when it comes to the idea of religious persecution, they say, ‘Well who really cares because I don’t believe in God. If you are not sophisticated enough to be a post-modernist secularist… tough on you!


Christians Given Ultimatum in Mosul: Convert, Leave or Die

Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Saad Sirop of Baghdad has confirmed a troubling report from Mosul that the Islamic State is now presenting Christians in that city with a final ultimatum of conversion, subservience or death.

Christians have until  tomorrow (Saturday, July 19)  to leave, or face execution.  "In the last hours, the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have forced the few remaining Christians in Iraq's second city to leave their homes. Desperate, Christians immediately fled but were stopped at checkpoints by militias who have looted cars and all their belongings and then summoned them to continue on foot. Most of the families are headed to the North, in the city of Dahuk."
---
It may be the end game Christians have feared for some time, especially since ISIS took over Mosul in early June. Since then, things have gotten progressively worse for Christians. The Associated Press has also reported that the Islamic State has begun seizing the houses of Christian and Shiite families who fled Mosul and giving some of them to Sunni families uprooted from areas like Tikrit and Diyala. "They mark these houses with signs reading Islamic State Properties,"

As Christians are massacred in Iraq, laid-back Obama maintains his shameful silence notes Damian Thompson.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians pour out of Mosul after ISIS jihadis give them deadline to convert, pay or face death

Thousands of Iraqi Christians today poured out of Mosul after ISIS jihadis gave them an ultimatum - convert, pay or face death.
The Islamic State terror group declared that Christians must either convert to Islam, pay a special tax or leave the city, around 250 miles north-west of Baghdad.
If they did not do so by noon (9am GMT) today, there would be 'nothing for them but the sword', it said.
---
Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako, who heads Iraq's largest Christian community, said the terrifying ultimatum had been relayed by mosques in ISIS-controlled Mosul.
He told AFP: 'Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil [in Kurdistan]. For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.'

News from Ninevah by David Warren

It would seem that, this morning, for the first time in more than eighteen centuries, there are no Christians in Mosul, Iraq….

By tradition, the tombs of several Old Testament patriarchs and prophets are to be found within the large area now under Mosul’s modern urban sprawl. (It is the largest city in Iraq, except Baghdad.) This includes the shrine associated with the tomb of Jonah, itself of extraordinary antiquity, which was torched and demolished earlier in the week. All physical evidence that Christians ever lived in Mosul will soon be erased, if it has not been erased already. (Shia Islamic shrines have also been demolished by the Sunni jihadis; and I gather that the museum, one of several sites around Mosul under nominal protection of UNESCO as “world heritage,” has also been trashed by these iconoclasts.)
--
The “final solution” for Mosul’s Christians was blared from loudspeakers in the minarets of the city’s Sunni mosques after Friday prayers. They would have twenty-four hours to flee, taking nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Those found still in the city, after noon yesterday, would be put to the sword. A third option, conversion to Islam, was mentioned only for the record. Any intending to do that would surely have done it by now. The possessions of all Christians had been “nationalized,” according to the announcement — everything they owned now belonged to the Islamic Caliphate of Iraq and the Levant.
--
The Christians have fled, by necessity many on foot under the killing sun of the Mesopotamian summer, mostly towards Kurdistan: the one part of northern Iraq the jihadis have not yet attempted to subjugate. That is also where Western refugee aid is most likely to be available. At this point, we cannot guess how many will make it alive. Certainly the number of dead will vastly exceed those tallied in the airliner that was shot down in eastern Ukraine — the story now at the top of Western media headlines, for the plane was full of Europeans.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:47 PM | Permalink

The Myth that Religion is the #1 Cause of War

The Myth that Religion is the #1 Cause of War

Atheists and secular humanists consistently make the claim that religion is the #1 cause of violence and war throughout the history of mankind. One of atheism's key cheerleaders, Sam Harris, says in his book The End of Faith that faith and religion are “the most prolific source of violence in our history.”1
--
An interesting source of truth on the matter is Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history. Of those wars, the authors categorize 123 as being religious in nature  which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%.

 Wars-Pie-Chart

The truth is, non-religious motivations and naturalistic philosophies bear the blame for nearly all of humankind’s wars. Lives lost during religious conflict pales in comparison to those experienced during the regimes who wanted nothing to do with the idea of God – something showcased in R. J. Rummel’s work Lethal Politics and Death by Government:

Non-Religious Dictator Lives Lost
  • Joseph Stalin - 42,672,000
  • Mao Zedong - 37,828,000
  • Adolf Hitler - 20,946,000
  • Chiang Kai-shek - 10,214,000
  • Vladimir Lenin - 4,017,000
  • Hideki Tojo - 3,990,000
  • Pol Pot - 2,397,0003
Rummel says: “Almost 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed or killed in any other of a myriad of ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners. The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people. It is though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power, not germs.”

The historical evidence is quite clear: Religion is not the #1 cause of war.  via Tea at Trianon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 PM | Permalink

July 18, 2014

When people simply forgot how to build things

In Aeon Farming the apocalypse by Keith Farrell

"When my life came crashing down I took shelter on my farm, surviving with 11th-century tools like the sickle and scythe"
--
Only gradually did I realize that I had far more in common with a post-apocalypse survivor – and chronic illness, not to mention financial challenges, are apocalyptic in their way – than with an 11th-century farmer. Those farmers, after all, knew what they were doing; their whole lives would have been spent doing it. They were far more prepared for a post-apocalypse life on the land than me or almost anyone I knew

Rod Dreher comments in Livin' The Medieval Dream,

When you have to preserve skills and methods from generation to generation simply to survive, traditions develop, and they become critically important, even after people may have forgotten why they came about. Then along comes technology to free you from traditions, and you discard them. Eventually you come to believe that anything you will is possible. And you forget that we all live on a soap bubble.

Historian Brian Ward-Perkins says that the retreat of material culture after the Western Roman Empire fell was catastrophic; people simply forgot how to build things — and that with the disappearance of the relatively complex economic networks under imperial Rome, intellectual life also shriveled. I interviewed Ward-Perkins about this once in his Oxford University office, but I don’t know that I understood so intimately what he meant by that until I read Ferrell’s essay.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 AM | Permalink

July 10, 2014

Who Turned Out the Lights and Who Turned Them Back On

 Monks Copying Books
An illustration from a medieval manuscript depicts monks copying books by hand in a monastery.

The Dark Ages: Who Turned Out the Lights?

Polemicists who comment on blogs often blame the Church for the Dark Ages. Actual historians know that the Dark Ages, insofar as they were dark, were darkened by the barbarian invasions that inundated the western Roman Empire, and that it was only in the Church (and in its monasteries in particular) that any light was preserved. It might be a bit of a stretch to suggest (as Thomas Cahill did in his book of similar name) that “the Irish (i.e. the Irish monks) saved civilization,” but it is certain that whatever vestiges of earlier Roman civilization managed to be saved were saved by the Church.

It was the pagan Gothic tribes sweeping down from the north and east that submerged classical Roman and Christian culture in a sea of barbarism. It was the Church that tried to preserve what learning it could, and which strove valiantly to convert them. After centuries of work it did a passable job, and it was only thanks to this that classic learning was preserved to become the foundation for later progress. On that foundation the west has built many things, including modern democracy, modern science, and the concept of human rights. But the foundation upon which they were built was a Christian one, one laid painfully and laboriously by the Church in the so-called Dark Ages. In short: it was the pagans who turned out the lights. It was the Church who kept a lamp burning, and eventually turned the lights back on again.
--
In all these debates about the Church and the Dark Ages, the real disagreement is not between the Church and the secularists, but between real scholars and ignoramuses.  . Real historical scholars know that the concept of “the Dark Ages” is an historical construct of fairly recent vintage, and that the Church of that period was the defender of learning and the arts.

Life and Work in Medieval Monasteries

Some of the most important work carried on during the Dark Ages was done by humble monks copying ancient manuscripts in cold, dark monasteries.

 Monk In Scriptorium

The printing press had not yet been invented and all documents were copied by hand on parchment. Scribes copied thousands of Bibles and classical works for circulation in the Christian areas of Europe. Theirs was the labor that would lift the western world out of the darkness of ignorance and illiteracy.

Fortress Protection From Viking Barbarian Attacks
Viking invasions were a major danger for the peaceful monastic communities in Europe. The scriptorium was the most important room in a monastery next to the chapel itself and for this reason, these writing rooms were often built at the top of an attack-proof fortress tower with curved walls resembling a tall cylinder. The towers were separate buildings enclosed within the walls of the compound. The monks climbed 15 to 20 feet up a ladder to the scriptorium and then pulled a ladder up after them. This made it almost impossible for the attacking warriors to reach them.

A Monastic Scribe’s Workday
After lauds, the morning prayer, each scribe entered the scriptorium and worked hunched over at a tiny table while seated on a backless stool. The desk was placed in front of a small window that provided the only available light in the room. No candles or fires for warmth were allowed because of the flammability of the parchment material. They worked in these conditions no matter how cold or wet the weather might be.

The threat of the Vikings and the perilous nature of life in the Dark Ages is brilliantly told in The Secret of the Kells, the most beautiful animated movie I've ever seen.  Variety called it "A Tour-de-Force!" and  "Absolutely luscious to behold!".    The LA Times movie critic Kenneth Turan said,  "Four Stars! Ravishing! Magical! Glorious!"  Now on dvd, it's a marvelous film for families and children. 

And then there is the engaging classic by Thomas Cahill How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe

But the best is probably by Thomas Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.    You can download as a free ebook chapter 3 How the Monks Saved Civilization here.    You will learn how during a period of great turmoil as Roman rule collapsed all over Europe, Benedictine monasteries were "oases of order and peace".

"“Wherever they came,” adds still another, “they converted the wilderness into a cultivated country; they pursued the breeding of cattle and agriculture, labored with their own hands, drained morasses, and cleared away forests. By them Germany was rendered a fruitful country.” Another historian records that “every Benedictine monastery was an agricultural college for the whole region in which it was located.
--
For the monks,  manual labor was a channel of grace.  "They chose the most secluded and inaccessible sites to reinforce the communal solitude of their life and partly because this was land that lay donors could more easily give the monks. Although they cleared forests that stood in the way of human habitation and use, they were also  careful to plant trees and conserve forests when possible.
--
They introduced new crops" "Here they would introduce the rearing of cattle and horses, there the brewing of beer or the raising of bees or fruit. In Sweden, the corn trade owed its existence to the monks; in Parma, it was cheese making; in Ireland, salmon fisheries—and, in a great many places, the finest vineyards."  They pioneered in the production of wine and one monk Dom Perignon is credited with the discovery of champagne.

Monks as Technical Advisors.  Cistercian monks were superb metallurgists. "In effect, whether it be the mining of salt, lead, iron, alum, or gypsum, or metallurgy, quarrying marble, running cutler’s shops and glassworks, or forging metal plates, also known as firebacks, there was no activity at all in which the monks did not display creativity and a fertile spirit of research. Utilizing their labor force, they instructed and trained it to perfection.  They explored aviation.  In the early 11th century,  a monk named Eilmer flew more than 600 feet with a glider.  Centuries later, a Jesuit priest , Father Francesco Lana-Terzi explored the subject of flight more systematically and earned the honor of being called the father of aviation.  They built the first clocks one of which from the 14th century still sits in excellent condition in the London Science Museum.

Their charitable works ranged from the monasteries themselves that served as gratuitous inns for foreign travelers, pilgrim and the poor
to the building of lighthouses, the establishment of libraries, the preservation of classic texts and the preservation of the Bible.
Above all, they built schools and were teachers  and laid the foundations for universities.  "They were the thinkers and philosophers of the day and shaped the political and religious thought. To them, both collectively and individually, was due the continuity of thought and civilization of the ancient world with the later Middle Ages."

"The monastic contribution to Western civilization, as we have seen, is immense. Among other things, the monks taught metallurgy, introduced new crops, copied ancient texts, preserved literacy, pioneered in technology, invented champagne, improved the European landscape, provided for wanderers of every stripe, and looked after the lost and shipwrecked. "

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

June 17, 2014

"Without the family, the pyramid scheme of the state faces a demographic collapse" "

Sultan Knish writes in Twilight of the Family of the horrifying future when the state takes over the functions of the family

Governments have come to serve as undying guardians of human society, ushering new life into the world and ushering old life out of it. New parents are as likely to turn to the government for help as they are to their extended family. When their child is old enough to look around for a career, it is the government that they expect to provide the education and the jobs. And when they grow old, the child can keep on working at his government job and paying off his student loans knowing that the government will be there to make all the difficult and expensive decisions about their care.
--
The family has been displaced and replaced. In some places it is even repressed. Like an old station wagon, it idles by the side of the road, while its former owners drive away in their new sleek electric government compact car built for two or a micro-car built for one into a wonderful childless future of unfunded pensions, social collapse and death panels.
--
Modern society has made the price of children extremely expensive and many couples have found it easier to end the family with their own deaths.  The future of the West has been aborted or never conceived. It has been broken up, divorced and never married.

The state gave its citizens the impression that it could fulfill all the functions of a family far better than the real thing. Its appeal was the power of bigness, the stability of a system too big to fail and rooms full of experts working night and day to improve on the fallible family. With its vast industrial social services bureaucracy, the state would be able to provide a more stable social safety net, save everyone money on health care, educate their children, care for their elders, perpetuate their values, protect their income, safeguard their way of life and usher in a bright new future.
--
Unfortunately the state is more like an actual pyramid scheme …And nowhere has the pyramid scheme of the social state schemer proven more disastrous than in the collapse of the family. The state has usurped the family, but it depends on the family to crank out industrious little taxpayers, small men and women who will work the shops and factories, toiling night and day, paying their fines and fees dutifully while raising the next generation of taxpayers. Without the family, the pyramid scheme of the state faces a demographic collapse.
--
The spectre of Communism is no longer haunting Europe. It has come and gone. Under Socialism, it is the spectre of demographics that haunts Europe. It is the dead children, no longer killed in factories or protests, but in clinics and for convenience's sake, that float aimlessly through the streets of Munich, London and Paris. Europe is no longer haunted by its dead, but by those who were never born.
--
Socialism has left behind a terrible bill and there is no one left to pay it. The population is crashing in every Western country. The elderly are losing their generous benefits, the men and women of middle age worry for the future and the youth no longer believe in the future at all.

The future is rapidly approaching.  In Scotland, they are racing to undermine parents with a sinister 'Named Person" scheme

Children  have all been assigned a 'Named Person' to oversee their welfare, supervise their upbringing and intervene where they deem it to be appropriate, even when this conflicts with the will of the parents.
--
Holyrood has effectively passed a bill which nullifies parental rights and endows the state with higher baby-sitting authority: Scotland has become the progenitor and guardian of all her children - not ultimately or in extremis, but right from the beginning. …parents will be reported to the state for trivial family incidents, such as forgetting a child’s doctor's or hospital appointment.

Parents are not allowed to know who the 'named person' for each of their children is.  Nor is the 'named person' available for consultation or discussion.

At the same time, a proposed "Cinderella Law"  in the U.K.  would make it a crime to deliberately harm a child’s ‘intellectual, emotional, social or behavioral development’ and sits alongside the physical or sexual abuse of children. Its definition of abuse includes “controlling or coercive behavior” which would “encompass but is not limited to physical, financial, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse”

Those found guilty would face up to ten years in jail. The change will update existing laws in England and Wales.  Currently, adults responsible for a child can only be prosecuted if they have deliberately assaulted, abandoned or exposed a youngster to suffering or injury to their health.

This may be a well-intentioned law, but it will be a disaster in its implementation.  It is vague, overbroad and underspecific,  How will religious families trying to pass on their traditions far ?  Just what is 'controlling or coercive behavior' anyway?  Already parents have been arrested because their child was too fat.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2014

The Evolution of Marriage and Having Kids Makes Parents Happier

The Evolution of Marriage

‘A girl for every boy, a boy for every girl”: That’s the main thesis of William Tucker’s engaging new book. With polygamy, you see, there isn’t a girl for every boy, and the leftover boys must find some other — usually disruptive and frequently violent — way to pass their time. But the “unique social contract of monogamy — a male for every female, a female for every male — lowers the temperature of sexual competition and frees its members to work together in cooperation. It is at this juncture that human societies — even human civilizations — are born.”

Tucker is not himself an academic, but he is a smart journalist, and Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human is the result of some 20 years of reading through the scholarly literature on marriage and thinking through the implications. It’s written for “the average reader,” and covers some “subjects that many scholars and academics in the field seem to find uncomfortable.” Indeed, Tucker comes to some rather politically incorrect views. His work is a clear-headed presentation of a “biological, anthropological, and historic understanding of the role that monogamy has played in the evolution of human society” — and by monogamy Tucker doesn’t simply mean any old union of two people, but an exclusive and more or less permanent union of a man and woman, husband and wife, father and mother.
--
Monogamy so understood doesn’t happen by chance. In a certain sense, “human monogamy — the pair-bonding of couples within the framework of a larger social group — is not entirely a natural institution.” After all, “monogamy does not sustain itself ‘naturally.’” And yet, when monogamy is lived out, human civilization flourishes. As Tucker puts it, “The rule is: those who form traditional families succeed; those who don’t fail.”

Because monogamy doesn’t grow on trees, “it requires rules — rules that must be continuously enforced by the members practicing it.” So, while “monogamy is manifestly a more equitable and successful way to organize a society, it is always under siege and forever fragile.” And if a society “becomes lax or indifferent about upholding its norms, the advantages will quickly unravel — as we are plainly witnessing in the America of today.”
--
In 1965, when the Moynihan Report was issued, the concern was that the out-of-wedlock birth rate for blacks was 25 percent. Today 40 percent of all children, 50 percent of Hispanics, and 70 percent of African Americans are born outside of marriage.

And this breakdown of marriage most hurts the least well-off. A leading indicator of whether someone will know poverty or prosperity is whether, growing up, he or she knew the love and security of having a married mother and father. Marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by 80 percent. The reason is simple: Marriage attaches a child’s father to his mother, and then attaches that committed pair to the child. As Tucker notes: “Children without fathers are more at risk for drug and alcohol abuse, dropping out of school, depression, delinquent behavior, crime, early sexual activity, and having illegitimate children in the next generation. They are more at risk for abuse, molestation, and incest.”

The art of fatherhood,” however, “does not come naturally but is a skill that must be passed on from generation to generation.”


In the Atlantic, Having Kids Makes Parents Happy After All.  New research overturns the decades-old belief that having children is a downer.

“What we believe is going on is that there is a general negative trend in happiness among adults—[but] that negative trend is not happening for parents.” Adults seem to be getting grumpier as a whole, but parents are bucking that general trend.
--
Herbst and Ifcher offer three theories why parents are becoming happier—and what that means for American society.

First, there’s the phenomenon that Robert Putnam identified in his 2000 book Bowling Alone—that Americans were becoming increasingly isolated from community and family. Herbst and Ifcher argue that families are the “last vestige of community life in American society.”

“Parents are more likely to spend time with friends, get the news, be interested in politics, think people are honest, have faith in the economy, be trusting,” Herbst said. “We think that parents remain better attached to society, and we think the linchpin of that attachment is kids.”

Second, the financial hardship brought on by children has lessened over time. The U.S. now has a more generous earned income tax credit and childcare tax credits, which means parents have more of a financial cushion than they used to.

“The social safety net has begun to favor parents more over time than non-parents,”….

Finally, who is having a kid these days is different than who had children in previous decades…parents are probably becoming parents because they want to be parents, and less because of societal pressure. These adults are more likely to be a self-selected group, desire their children, and therefore derive more happiness from having the children they wanted.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2014

May 1 Victims of Communism Day

Ilya Somin on Victims of Communism Day

May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda tool to prop up their regimes. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:06 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2014

American Witch Hunt or American Inquisition?

Ritual Sacrifice in Silicon Valley

The one thing all sides can agree on is that Eich, on paper, is very well suited to the job. His most notable technical achievement is the invention of the Javascript programming language, and while some of us might sniff at the poor design decisions which made that language notoriously unpleasant to work with, it is incontestable that it forms the underpinnings of much of the modern web.

Mozilla: No Dissent Allowed. The NR editors on Corrosive Conformity

In 2008, Barack Obama and Brendan Eich both were against gay marriage. Senator Obama averred his support for the one-man/one-woman view of marriage, while Mr. Eich, a cofounder of the Mozilla web-browser company, donated $1,000 to support Proposition 8 — a California ballot initiative that had the effect of making Senator Obama’s avowed marriage policy the law in California.

This is, of course, pure poison. This is not a matter of law but one of culture, and not a question of means but of ends….The nation’s full-time gay-rights professionals simply will not rest until a homogeneous and stultifying monoculture is settled upon the land, and if that means deploying a ridiculous lynch mob to pronounce anathema upon a California technology executive for private views acted on in his private life, then so be it.

Brendan Eich and the New American Totalitarian State By Sally Zelikovsky

Brendan Eich, a highly-respected tech guru in Silicon Valley and co-founder of Mozilla Corporation, after he was appointed CEO in late March.  In less than a week, he was forced out of this position for no reason other than that he had a made a $1000 contribution to the Prop 8 initiative in 2008.  His own money.  On his own time.  In his private capacity.  Mozilla had nothing to do with it.  Nor did he discuss gay marriage at work.
--
forced out he was after a huge outcry from thousands of employees and Silicon Valley residents,  after half of the Mozilla Foundation board resigned -- yes, resigned! -- and OKCupid blocked web surfers from accessing their site through the Firefox portal.
--
It now seems that anyone can be punished for his or her religious, moral or political beliefs by well-funded mobs that can exert economic pressure on one’s employer.  These are the tactics of closed societies behind the Iron Curtain; not the shining city on the hill.

The Anchoress holds nothing back, A Gay CEO with Balls Needs to Hire Eich and Halt this Crap

and speak truth to a growing, and most illiberal new power. He or she needs to hire Brendan Eich in some sort of corporate leadership capacity for the sake of the most fundamental of freedoms — the freedom to think what you want to think, even if your thinking is unpopular or deemed “mistaken” — and in so doing boldly declare that our society has no truck with inquisitions.
--
Let me be clear: I hold out absolutely no hope that this chill wind will be checked or reversed — too many people with money and influence and no individual courage at all find totalitarianism an alluring idea…..it is an execrable, detestable trend that, if unchecked, will affect every facet of our lives as “correct” thoughts and “correct” ways become ever-narrower and trap more and more people in its stinking and miserable gullies.

Andrew Sullivan, the openly gay columnist

The guy who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000 has just been scalped by some gay activists. After an OKCupid decision to boycott Mozilla, the recently appointed Brendan Eich just resigned under pressure:
--
Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

The WSJ on Mozilla's Intolerance quotes the New York Times

"In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself….

The Times adds that "there is no indication that Mr. Eich behaved in a biased manner at work." So it appears that simply holding a private belief that was shared by a majority of Californians in 2008 and by President Obama until May of 2012 is no longer tolerated by the extreme wing of the movement to redefine marriage—or by the Silicon Valley technology community. Has a culture that once prided itself on its openness and inclusiveness become so bigoted that it cannot accept anyone who holds traditional Christian, Jewish or Muslim beliefs?

The Prop 8 donor list now functions essentially as a blacklist, and Eich isn’t its first or only victim.

Remember, people who gave to Prop 8 have been harassed and had their property vandalized; the Heritage Foundation issued a report chronicling cases of intimidation back in 2009…..
---
[T]he LA Times obtained a list of people who gave, for and against, to the fight over the Prop 8 referendum in 2008. They put the whole database online and made it searchable. Search it today and, sure enough, there’s Eich with a $1,000 donation in favor. Under California law, that disclosure is perfectly legal. Under California law, that disclosure is perfectly legal: The state is authorized to provide certain personal information about anyone who donates more than $100 to a ballot measure. Why the state is allowed to do that, I’m not sure. The reason you want transparency when donating to a candidate is to prevent an elected official, who’s supposed to serve the public interest, from being secretly co-opted by huge sums of money provided by a special interest. In a ballot measure, though, the money being spent is designed to influence the public itself. They’re the final arbiter of the public interest, no?
--
Jonathan Last seizes on the significance of Mozilla chair Mitchell Baker admitting that “I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.” If that’s the case, says Last, why exactly was Eich ousted?……. the problem isn’t with how he comported himself. It’s with what he thought…

Ace. Brendan Eich is out at Mozilla.

His crime: Giving $1000 to the Prop 8 campaign which was passed by a majority of Californians in 2008. And having the same views on gay marriage that Obama publicly stated circa 2007. Therefore he must be shunned and kept unemployed….

Mozilla in the midst of self-congratulation is blind to the beam in their own eye as it  tweets "We believe in openness &  that no one should be persecuted for the beliefs they hold, no matter what they are."

Roger Simon  Although not held by me,

Eich evidently has beliefs shared by literally billions of people of faith throughout the world.  Those  demanding his head like junior Robespierres should be ashamed of themselves.  Not only are they violating the spirit of the Bill of Rights and freedom of religion, they dishonor their own cause and embarrass themselves no end.  They move things backwards when the think they are moving things forwards….
This is no more than political correctness gone berserk. It is totalitarianism flying under the banner of marriage equality.  How reactionary, how fascistic, and, yes, how darkly comic is that.

Bryan Preston

If one’s position on a personal-religious-cultural issue as same-sex marriage becomes a hiring or firing offense, then we have truly moved into dangerous new territory. Illegal territory too, as such questions are not supposed to be part of the employment process.

Rod Dreher If Brendan Eich Isn't Safe

What you may not know, as someone not in the tech industry, is that Eich is not just some suit who has done some engineering. He is credited as literally the inventor of the JavaScript programming language. This is the scripting language that more or less operates the browser and allows a web page to interact with the user as opposed to be a static display. You might think that would be pretty relevant for the CEO of a freaking browser company. But apparently not as important as the fact that the guy had the same opinion on SSM as Barack Obama in 2008.
---
If they can knock off a guy like Eich, one of the co-founders of the company and one of the most important figures in the tech industry, because of his belief in traditional marriage, who is safe?
--
this is a clear shot that no orthodox Catholic, Evangelical, or Orthodox Christian, or Orthodox Jew, or faithful Muslim, is welcome at Mozilla — nor, it is safe to assume, in Silicon Valley at all. ….They would rather throw one of the founding fathers of the Internet down a well than tolerate him, because of his expressed belief on traditional marriage.

Chilling

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink

March 24, 2014

Barcoding human embryos

The accumulating horror of human beings treated like things.

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals  The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as 'clinical waste' by hospitals in Britain with some used in 'waste to energy' plants

Barcoding Human Embryos

Scientists from Barcelona have announced in the journal, Human Reproduction, that they now can place a barcode tag directly on an embryo to make sure you end up with the right kid. Because mix-ups do happen.

… The direct tagging system based on lectin-biofunctionalized polysilicon barcodes of micrometric dimensions is simple, safe and highly efficient, allowing the identification of human oocytes and embryos during the various procedures typically conducted during an assisted reproduction cycle….. This system has now been tested in human oocytes and embryos…

Genetically Modified Food: Bad; Genetically Modified Humans: Good

The three-parent technique is particularly troubling because it does not just modify the resulting embryo; the modification will extend to further generations. This is what is called a germ-line modification: one that will be incorporated into egg and sperms cells and passed onto future offspring. Unlike the United States, many other countries have laws prohibiting germ-line modifications in humans.
--
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently considering allowing American in vitro fertilization clinics to bring to trial the three-parent technique for couples where the mother has mitochondrial disease. ….The average citizen likely assumes that the safety of the three-parent technique has been thoroughly studied and found to be safe for use in humans. The reality is something different. In a recent paper in Science, researchers revealed that, so far, the only other primates created with this technique are four macaques that have only reached three years of age and have not produced another generation. Other animal models show that mtDNA-nuclear DNA mismatch has some serious effects that may not be apparent until adulthood. The researchers were clear that "it is premature to move this technology into the clinic at this stage."

Children to Order: The Ethics of 'Designer Babies'  ...The FDA, meanwhile, only regulates the potential safety and efficacy of these techniques, not their ethical implications.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2014

Plastic bodies, plastic souls

The deeper implications of gay marriage and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are explored in The Brave New World of Same-Sex Marriage by Michael Hanby

To accept same-sex unions as ‘marriage’ is thus to commit officially to the proposition that there is no meaningful difference between a married man and woman conceiving a child naturally, two women conceiving a child with the aid of donor semen and IVF, or two men employing a surrogate to have a child together, though in the latter cases only one of the legally recognized parents can (presently) contribute to the child’s hereditary endowment and hope for a family resemblance. By recognizing same-sex ‘marriages’ the state also determines once and for all that ARTs are not merely a remedy for infertility but a normative form of reproduction equivalent to natural procreation, and indeed it has been suggested in some cases that ARTs are an improvement upon nature. Yet if this is true, it follows that no great weight attaches to natural motherhood and fatherhood and that being born to a father and mother is inessential to what it means to be human, or even to the meaning of childhood and family. These are not fundamentally ‘natural’ phenomena integral to human identity and social welfare but mere accidents of biology overlaid with social conventions that can be replaced by ‘functionally equivalent’ roles without loss.
--
Underlying the technological conquest of human biology, whether in its gay or feminist form, is a dualism which bi-furcates the person into a meaningless mechanical body made of malleable ‘stuff’ and the affective or technological will that presides over it. The person as an integrated whole falls through the chasm. This is the foundation of the now orthodox distinction between ‘sex’ which is ‘merely biological’ and ‘gender’ which is socially constructed, as well as the increasingly pervasive (and relentlessly promoted) idea that freedom means our self-creation of both. Technological dominance over procreation imposes this bi-furcated anthropology upon parents and children alike, and codifying it implicitly makes this anthropology the law of the land.
---
The technological dominance of procreation asserts, contrary to the child’s true nature and to his parents’ unquestionable love for him, that a child is essentially a product of human making, an assemblage of parts outside of parts that are the parts of no real whole, whose meaning and purpose, as with all artifacts, reside not in itself but in the designs of its maker.
--
Huxley…and C.S. … saw that the plastic body emptied of its dignity through eugenics had as its necessary counterpart the plastic soul deprived of its human inheritance and emptied of its capacity for truly human thoughts, feeling, and experiences. This process too, which is even harder to see than it is to understand, is already well underway.
---
A culture that accepts such deep violence at the origins of life will have every incentive not to think about the profound questions of human existence that for so long animated Western culture—they cut too close to the heart—and so education, even now scarcely distinguishable from ignorance, will largely consist in learning not to ask them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:16 PM | Permalink

Plastic bodies, plastic souls

The Brave New World of Same-Sex Marriage by Michael Hanby

To accept same-sex unions as ‘marriage’ is thus to commit officially to the proposition that there is no meaningful difference between a married man and woman conceiving a child naturally, two women conceiving a child with the aid of donor semen and IVF, or two men employing a surrogate to have a child together, though in the latter cases only one of the legally recognized parents can (presently) contribute to the child’s hereditary endowment and hope for a family resemblance. By recognizing same-sex ‘marriages’ the state also determines once and for all that ARTs are not merely a remedy for infertility but a normative form of reproduction equivalent to natural procreation, and indeed it has been suggested in some cases that ARTs are an improvement upon nature. Yet if this is true, it follows that no great weight attaches to natural motherhood and fatherhood and that being born to a father and mother is inessential to what it means to be human, or even to the meaning of childhood and family. These are not fundamentally ‘natural’ phenomena integral to human identity and social welfare but mere accidents of biology overlaid with social conventions that can be replaced by ‘functionally equivalent’ roles without loss.
--
Underlying the technological conquest of human biology, whether in its gay or feminist form, is a dualism which bi-furcates the person into a meaningless mechanical body made of malleable ‘stuff’ and the affective or technological will that presides over it. The person as an integrated whole falls through the chasm. This is the foundation of the now orthodox distinction between ‘sex’ which is ‘merely biological’ and ‘gender’ which is socially constructed, as well as the increasingly pervasive (and relentlessly promoted) idea that freedom means our self-creation of both. Technological dominance over procreation imposes this bi-furcated anthropology upon parents and children alike, and codifying it implicitly makes this anthropology the law of the land.
---
The technological dominance of procreation asserts, contrary to the child’s true nature and to his parents’ unquestionable love for him, that a child is essentially a product of human making, an assemblage of parts outside of parts that are the parts of no real whole, whose meaning and purpose, as with all artifacts, reside not in itself but in the designs of its maker.
--
Huxley…and C.S. … saw that the plastic body emptied of its dignity through eugenics had as its necessary counterpart the plastic soul deprived of its human inheritance and emptied of its capacity for truly human thoughts, feeling, and experiences. This process too, which is even harder to see than it is to understand, is already well underway.
---
A culture that accepts such deep violence at the origins of life will have every incentive not to think about the profound questions of human existence that for so long animated Western culture—they cut too close to the heart—and so education, even now scarcely distinguishable from ignorance, will largely consist in learning not to ask them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:24 PM | Permalink

February 18, 2014

Quotes from a KGB defector, "Russia today is the first intelligence dictatorship in history"

Romanian Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa  is the highest-ranking Soviet intelligence officer to ever defect, having come to the United States and received asylum from President Carter in 1978. Ever since, Pacepa has been writing in defense of freedom while living undercover due to assassination threats.

In connection with the release of his most-recent title “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism.”,  here are 11 quotes that will shock and chill you from our interview with the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intel officer to ever defect.

1. The very idea that the Soviet Union was defeated is disinformation in itself. …Russia today is the first intelligence dictatorship in history. It is a brand new form of totalitarianism, which we are not yet familiar with. Now the KGB, rechristened FSB, is openly running Russia.”

2.  The absolutely worst—and often irreparable—damage done to the Free World has been caused by the Kremlin’s disinformation operations designed to change the past…The Kremlin’s repeated lie that Pius XII was Hitler’s Pope has become the “truth”—a lie so firmly established against all evidence to the contrary, that for most educated people who have not looked closely at the subject, there seems nothing to discuss.”

6. The KGB plot to turn the Arab World against the Jews  ”In 1972, during a breakfast in his office, KGB chairman Andropov told me that “our” disinformation machinery should ignite a campaign aimed at transforming Arab anti-Semitism into an anti-American doctrine for the whole Muslim world. The idea was to portray the United States as a war-mongering, Zionist country financed by Jewish money and run by a rapacious “Council of the Elders of Zion” ….The KGB boss described the Muslim world as a waiting petri dish, in which we could nurture a strain of hate-America. The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism and victimology. We had only to keep repeating, over and over, that the United States was a war-mongering, Zionist country financed by Jewish money, with the goal of taking over the whole world.

8.  On the true meaning of glasnost - Glasnost is an old Russian term for polishing the ruler’s image……Glasnost was a[n]…instrument…to embellish the stature of a leader, not a catchword for openness

9. The Soviet Union devoted more resources to ideological warfare than standard intel-gathering “

11. The KGB flooded the world with copies of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”

From the interview

What would you hope is the primary takeaway for readers from your book?

Pacepa: That Marxism and its earthly Socialism are immense disinformation operations, and that all they have left behind is former Marxist countries that ended up looking like trailer camps hit by a hurricane, and leaders roasting in Dante’s Inferno. That all Marxists who have ever risen to lead a country have ended up in hell—all, from Trotsky to Stalin, Tito to Enver Hoxha to Mátyás Rakosi, Sékou Touré, Nyeree and Hugo Chavez.
--
You dedicated a significant part of the book to the connection between the Soviet framing of Pius XII and the current international terrorism. Could you synthesize that part here?

Both the framing of the pope and the threat of international terrorism were born at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB. Both grew out of the Kremlin’s anti-Semitism and its addiction to framing people and countries. And both were intended to slander and undermine the faith of the Judeo-Christian world, while at the same time driving a wedge between Jews and Christians.  That brings me to the crux of the matter. Anti-Semitism has always generated terrorism.

In your view what is the best way to fight against Leftist disinformation?

Pacepa: By revealing the truthRadio Free Europe has been a lot more important than the armies and the most sophisticated missiles. The ‘missiles’ that destroyed Communism were launched from Radio Free Europe, and this was Washington’s most important investment during the Cold War.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:50 PM | Permalink

February 17, 2014

Americans are becoming increas­ingly ignorant of how the modern world was made

How the West Won—but “Western Civ” Lost.  Rodney Stark writes in the Intercollegiate Review

It’s remarkably unfashionable to study—or even talk about—the West these days.
--
Forty years ago the most important and popular freshman course at the best American colleges and universities was “Western Civilization.” It not only covered the general history of the West but also included historical surveys of art, music, literature, philosophy, science, and other matters. But this course has long since disappeared from most college catalogues on grounds that Western civilization is but one of many civilizations and it is ethnocentric and arrogant to study ours.

To the extent that this policy pre­vails, Americans will become increas­ingly ignorant of how the modern world came to be. Worse yet, they are in danger of being badly misled by a flood of absurd, politically correct fabrications, all of them popular on college campuses: That the Greeks copied their whole culture from black Egyptians. That European science originated in Islam. That Western affluence was stolen from non-West­ern societies. That Western modernity was really produced in China, and not so very long ago.

The truth is that, although the West wisely adopted bits and pieces of technology from Asia, modernity is entirely the product of West­ern civilization.

I use the term modernity to identify that fundamental store of scientific knowledge and procedures, powerful technologies, artistic achievements, political freedoms, economic arrangements, moral sensibilities, and improved standards of living that characterize Western nations and are now revolutionizing life in the rest of the world. For there is another truth: to the extent that other cultures have failed to adopt at least major aspects of Western ways, they remain backward and impoverished.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 PM | Permalink

February 12, 2014

The Bible

Christina Odone wrote in the Telegraph that the Bible has disappeared from our children's lives

Almost a third of children do not know their Adam from their Noah or that David slew Goliath. The Good Samaritan is a stranger and the Nativity just a Christmas play.

The latest Bible Society findings prove that the West has erased its Christian heritage from public life. I'm not surprised – only saddened that No God Zone, my e-book on the subject, has been vindicated. After decades of concerted efforts by secularist zealots, the Bible is a truly alien subject. Future generations will look on "the greatest story ever told" and think it is a 1965 movie starring Charlton Heston and Max von Sydow.

Even Richard Dawkins, our God-hater-in-chief, thinks this a pity. In a very amicable exchange three years ago, we agreed that the Bible represents a precious part of our legacy. I agreed with Prof Dawkins that you don't have to be a believer to delight in its literary merits and recognise its historical value. A few faith schools still teach "the Good Book"; but they are under fire from the atheist brigade, and many feel that they will only survive if they promote a multicultural syllabus that stars Gandhi and Mandela rather than Abraham and Jesus.

The extraordinary, subversive book, with its lessons on charity, compassion and respect for others inspired generations to rebel against tyrannies of all kinds – dictators, addictions, vices. Men and women dedicated their lives to its teachings – and were ready to die for it. But today it seems that a host of martyrs lost their lives in vain: the Bible is just another book that sold more than the Hunger Games trilogy at some point.

The recent poll by the Bible Society in the U.K. revealed that more than half of the adults who responded believe “The Hunger Games” are biblical and one in three say “Harry Potter” could be a storyline from the sacred text.

“While these statistics may appear surprising at first glance, they are symptomatic of the fact that many children indicate they have never read, seen or even heard these stories.” ….. Of the parents questioned, 46 percent did not recognize that the account of Noah’s Ark comes from the Bible, according to the results of the January survey of 800 children ages eight to 15 and 1,000 parents.

The survey was taken in preparation for the launch of the organization’s “Pass It On” campaign which is intended to raise the level of knowledge about the Bible.

More from the poll

  • more than 43 percent of parents feel it is important for kids to have read, heard or seen Bible stories.
  • three in 10 secondary school pupils, aged 12 to 15, did not realize the Nativity was from the Bible
  • one-third of the parents “were unsure or did not recognize the stories of David and Goliath and Adam and Eve as being from the Bible.
  • 27 percent thought the storyline from “Superman” was or could be in the Bible.

“It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom,” wrote Horace Greeley (1811-1872), publisher and journalist

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”  George Washington (1732-1799), first President of the United States

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:01 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2014

"This is a good place to be an addict and a single mom”

Down and Out in Vermont by Geoffrey Norman in the Weekly Standard

Drive-bys. Dealers dropped in the act of going for a gun. Lawn signs warning the druggies to stay away. It doesn’t seem right—not on these leafy streets in this little city with its splendid views of the mountains a mile or two distant.

“Tell me about it,” Prouty says.
---
“They steal anything they can sell. Copper. The catalytic converters out of cars. Electronics, of course. They’ll walk into Walmart and pick up a flat-screen television and just walk out with it.”

He and the rest of Baker’s officers do what they can. They make their presence known. They make arrests. But the numbers are not on their side. The state can lock up only so many and keep them only so long.
--
If you live in the state, you feel a certain undeniable pride in the way that they, like Jim Baker and Matt Prouty, are taking on the problem. There is a measure of the old Vermont spirit of yeomanry about it….This heroin invasion, though, is a different kind of fight. The enemy is an alternative sensibility, one that is exactly contrary to that older spirit. Heroin is the agent of total surrender. The drug of demoralization.

“There are so many programs. So much assistance. This is a good place to be an addict and a single mom”….This woman works for the paternalistic government, after all, and her clients are welfare mothers. Her words are spoken out of a deep frustration. And it is shared, around the table, as women nod ….
--
The trend is not unique to Vermont, as the example of places where methamphetamine abuse is rampant makes plain. Vermont, so far, has mostly been spared that vector of the plague. But not the idleness, dependency, and demoralization.

Still, the police are willing to stand up to the gangs, and the women at Mandala House are not afraid to tell an addicted mother to hang up her clothes.  So there is hope.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:13 PM | Permalink

February 6, 2014

"I resign the Revolution. I'm joining the Resistance"

A child of the sixties, Gerard Vanderleun reposts Goodbye to the Way We Were from 2006

Lately we seem to be living on a daily drip-feed of despair for our future and estrangement from our past. It's not a new diet in this country, but it is starting to assume the proportions of a runaway fad diet.

He concludes, ""I resign the Revolution. I'm joining the Resistance." 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:44 PM | Permalink

January 22, 2014

"A relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics"

Heather MacDonald, The Humanities and Us in City Journal
Don’t listen to today’s narcissistic academics—the West’s cultural inheritance is indispensable.

In 2011, the University of California at Los Angeles decimated its English major……Until 2011, students majoring in English at UCLA had to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton—the cornerstones of English literature. Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements and replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing. In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent as to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton, or Shakespeare, but was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”
---
The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics. Sitting atop an entire civilization of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.
--
It was not always so. The humanist tradition was founded not on narcissism but on the all-consuming desire to engage with the genius and radical difference of the past. The fourteenth-century Florentine poet Francesco Petrarch triggered the explosion of knowledge known today as Renaissance humanism with his discovery of Livy’s monumental history of Rome and the letters of Cicero, the Roman statesman whose orations, with their crystalline Latin style, would inspire such philosophers of republicanism as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
--
This constant, sophisticated dialogue between past and present would become a defining feature of Western civilization, prompting the evolution of such radical ideas as constitutional government and giving birth to arts and architecture of polyphonic complexity. And it became the primary mission of the universities to transmit knowledge of the past, as well as—eventually—to serve as seedbeds for new knowledge.

What college students today would understand The dreams of readers?

In an essay published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1858, the poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson chose the adjective to describe the experience of reading: “I find certain books vital and spermatic, not leaving the reader what he was.” For Emerson, the best books — the “true ones” — “take rank in our life with parents and lovers and passionate experiences, so medicinal, so stringent, so revolutionary, so authoritative.” Books are not only alive; they give life, or at least give it a new twist.
--
Psychologists and neurobiologists have begun studying what goes on in our minds as we read literature, and what they’re discovering lends scientific weight to Emerson’s observation…..A work of literature, particularly narrative literature, takes hold of the brain in curious and powerful ways…Making sense of what transpires in a book’s imagined reality appears to depend on “making a version of the action ourselves, inwardly.”

One intriguing study, conducted a few years ago by research psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis, illuminates Oatley’s point. The scholars used brain scans to examine the cellular activity that occurs inside people’s heads as they read stories. They found that “readers mentally simulate each new situation encountered in a narrative.” The groups of nerve cells, or neurons, activated in readers’  brains “closely mirror those involved when [they] perform, imagine, or observe similar real-world activities.”…

The reader’s brain is not just a mirror. The actions and sensations portrayed in a story, the researchers wrote, are woven together with “with personal knowledge from [each reader’s] past experiences.” Every reader of a book creates, in Oatley’s terms, his own dream of the work — and he inhabits that dream as if it were an actual place.

We gain a special trance-like state of mind in which we become unaware of our bodies and our environment,” explains Holland. “We are ‘transported.’” It is only when we leave behind the incessant busyness of our lives in society that we open ourselves to literature’s regenerative power. That doesn’t mean that reading is anti-social. The central subject of literature is society, and when we lose ourselves in a book we often receive an education in the subtleties and vagaries of human relations
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 PM | Permalink

January 3, 2014

The real gender war is against boys and men

'What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide," said Camille Paglia who wrote A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues. in the Wall St Journal's interview of her last weekend that everyone is talking about and with which I couldn't agree more.

The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that's just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation….But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society's attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.  She starts with military service ……

"The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster," she says. "These people don't think in military ways, so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality."

The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians "lack practical skills of analysis and construction") to what women wear. "So many women don't realize how vulnerable they are by what they're doing on the street," she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.
--
Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. "Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It's oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys," she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. "They're making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters."
---
She sees the tacit elevation of "female values"—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts. By her lights, things only get worse in higher education. "This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it's all about neutralization of maleness." The result: Upper-middle-class men who are "intimidated" and "can't say anything. . . . They understand the agenda."
---
Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America's brawny industrial base, leaves many men with "no models of manhood," she says. "Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There's nothing left. There's no room for anything manly right now." The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm "inspires me as a writer," she says, adding: "If we had to go to war," the callers "are the men that would save the nation."

…. Women, particularly elite upper-middle-class women, have become "clones" condemned to "Pilates for the next 30 years," Ms. Paglia says. "Our culture doesn't allow women to know how to be womanly,"

She noted several years ago what we all observe

Visually, American men remain perpetual boys, as shown by the bulky T-shirts, loose shorts and sneakers they wear from preschool through midlife. The sexes, which used to occupy intriguingly separate worlds, are suffering from over-familiarity, a curse of the mundane. There’s no mystery left.

Who else but the lesbian feminist Paglia would dare to say It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be

A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment.

Or

After the next inevitable apocalypse, men will be desperately needed again! Oh, sure, there will be the odd gun-toting Amazonian survivalist gal, who can rustle game out of the bush and feed her flock, but most women and children will be expecting men to scrounge for food and water and to defend the home turf. Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.

Legal Insurrection applauds Paglia for pointing out  “it’s all about neutralization of maleness” 

We have noted here many times the war on little boys in elementary school through the absurd application of “zero tolerance” rules, When do we finally stop the harassment of little boys by school administrators? 

Punishing boys for kissing a girl on the cheek,  eating a poptart so it looks like a gun, imaginary arrows, pointing a pencil like a gun

We also have noted Dr. Helen Smith’s book Men on Strike regarding how similar policies through college and beyond have had a negative impact………

Dr. Helen rightly points out that when you reward the “Uncle Tims” at the expense of the “White Knights”, and decry masculinity as evil, then self-serving behavior will be the result. She notes, “as you sow, so shall you reap.”

So we watch reality shows to see what real men are like.  Victor Davis Hansen  Good Ol’ Boy, Inc.

The hysteria over Duck Dynasty reminds us that cable TV is currently inundated with working-class, white-guy reality shows. Top-drawing, relatively low-cost realities showcase gold miners, oil drillers, hunters, locomotive drivers, off-the-grid backwoods eccentrics, fishermen, crabmen, truck drivers, ax men, moonshiners, or the new generation of Beverly Hillbillies. The list of the particular subspecies of the muscular classes is endless.

So good-ol’-boy reality offers glimpses, premodern though they may be, of unrestrained freedom. ….The crabmen and lumberjacks don’t seem to worry about what they say or whom they offend — to the degree that such screw-it attitudes can be hinted about on politically correct camera. They are not fellow subjects who live among us in our kingdom of lies, in which you both dare not confess to profiling and dare not walk in a particular Philadelphia neighborhood.

The Washington Examiner Editorial: The real gender war is against boys

A recent study by two MIT economists found that men, not women, are less likely to graduate from high school and finish college. As a result, the study said, "over the last three decades, the labor market trajectory of males in the U.S. has turned downward along four dimensions: skills acquisition, employment rates, occupational stature and real wage levels."

Men can't even get together on their own anymore.  Is There A Male Friendship Crisis?

Men have always felt comfortable in clubs, fraternities, and other exclusive groups. Membership implies discretion: What happens at the Rotary Club stays at the Rotary Club, enabling men to open up and speak frankly. While men enjoy access to these types of bonds in, say, college fraternities, these places vanish in adulthood.

The erosion of “male space,” as psychologist Helen Smith convincingly argued in her otherwise problematic book, “Men on Strike,” has played a key role in the social isolation of men. “Our culture has steadily made it almost obscene for men to congregate on their own together,” Smith writes. “Men are discouraged and actively made fun of or denied the ability to be in all-male groups by the law and by the disapproval of certain segments of the culture.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:03 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2013

Speaking of Islam

Brendan O'Neill I'm sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism

In Western news-making and opinion-forming circles, there’s a palpable reluctance to talk about the most noteworthy thing about modern Islamist violence: its barbarism, its graphic lack of moral restraint. This goes beyond the BBC's yellow reluctance to deploy the T-word – terrorism – in relation to the bloody assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya at the weekend. Across the commentating board, people are sheepish about pointing out the historically unique lunacy of Islamist violence and its utter detachment from any recognizable moral universe or human values. We have to talk about this barbarism; we have to appreciate how new and unusual it is, how different it is even from the terrorism of the 1970s or of the early twentieth century. We owe it to the victims of these assaults, and to the principle of honest and frank political debate, to face up to the unhinged, morally unanchored nature of Islamist violence in the 21st century.

Maybe it’s because we have become so inured to Islamist terrorism in the 12 years since 9/11 that even something like the blowing-up of 85 Christians outside a church in Pakistan no longer shocks us or even makes it on to many newspaper front pages. But consider what happened: two men strapped with explosives walked into a group of men, women and children who were queuing for food and blew up themselves and the innocents gathered around them. Who does that? How far must a person have drifted from any basic system of moral values to behave in such an unrestrained and wicked fashion? Yet the Guardian tells us it is “moral masturbation” to express outrage over this attack, and it would be better to give into a “sober recognition that there are many bad things we can’t as a matter of fact do much about”. This is a demand that we further acclimatize to the peculiar and perverse bloody Islamist attacks around the world, shrug our shoulders, put away our moral compasses, and say: “Ah well, this kind of thing happens.
--
What we have today, uniquely in human history, is a terrorism that seems myopically focused on killing as many people as possible and which has no clear political goals and no stated territorial aims. The question is, why? It is not moral masturbation to ask this question or to point out the peculiarity and perversity of modern Islamist violence. My penny’s worth is that this terrorism speaks to a profound crisis of politics and of morality. Where earlier terrorist groups were restrained both by their desire to appear as rational political actors with a clear goal in mind and by basic moral rules of human behavior – meaning their violence was often bloody, yes, but rarely focused narrowly on committing mass murder – today’s Islamist terrorists appear to float free of normal political rules and moral compunctions. This is what is so infuriating about the BBC’s refusal to call these groups terrorists – because if anything, and historically speaking, even the term terrorist might be too good for them.

Raymond Ibrahim: Surreal and Suicidal: Modern Western Histories of Islam

Consider some facts for a moment:

A mere decade after the birth of Islam in the 7th century, the jihad burst out of Arabia. Leaving aside all the thousands of miles of ancient lands and civilizations that were permanently conquered, today casually called the "Islamic world" -- including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and parts of India and China -- much of Europe was also, at one time or another, conquered by the sword of Islam.

Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order): Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.

In 846 Rome was sacked and the Vatican defiled by Muslim Arab raiders; some 700 years later, in 1453, Christendom's other great basilica, Constantinople's Holy Wisdom (or Hagia Sophia) was conquered by Muslim Turks, permanently.
-
In short, for roughly one millennium -- punctuated by a Crusader-rebuttal that the modern West is obsessed with demonizing -- Islam daily posed an existential threat to Christian Europe and by extension Western civilization.

And therein lies the rub: Today, whether as taught in high school or graduate school, whether as portrayed by Hollywood or the news media, the predominant historic narrative is that Muslims are the historic "victims" of "intolerant" Western Christians.

In the future (whatever one there may be) the histories written about our times will likely stress how our era, ironically called the "information age," was not an age when people were so well informed, but rather an age when disinformation was so widespread and unquestioned that generations of people lived in bubbles of alternate realities -- till they were finally popped.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink

August 20, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood Jihad against Christians “Right now there is a bullseye on the back of every Christian living in Egypt.”

It is perfectly clear to me that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is conducting a violent jihad against Christians.

Andrew Doran, writing at National Review, calls the current wave of anti-Coptic violence in Egypt a Coptic Kristallnacht:

In the violence that erupted on Wednesday and Thursday, 32 churches were destroyed and 19 severely damaged, according to the Maspero Youth Union, a Christian human-rights organization. Scores of Christian homes, businesses, and automobiles were destroyed — all of this in roughly 24 hours.

And yet, bizarrely, Western media have largely portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as the victims of violence
--
“So much violence, so many innocent people killed,” says Mina Thabet, an Egyptian human-rights activist who lives in Cairo. “The [Mohamed] Morsi supporters are armed and killing people in the streets. They are targeting Copts. But if the Muslim Brotherhood had remained in power, we would have the same violence and much more because he would use the institutions of the country, the army and the police, against us.”
--
The Muslim Brotherhood’s systematic and coordinated attacks against Christians in Egypt are reminiscent of Kristallnacht in Germany in 1938, when Nazi paramilitaries systematically vandalized Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues and murdered scores of Jews in a disturbing foreshadowing of the fate of European Jews over the next few years.

Islamist mob parades nuns in Cairo as prisoners of war after six hours looting church school and replacing cross with banner resembling Al Qaeda flag

In some villages, the homes of Christians were marked with red paint so they would be easier to target.

On Facebook, a Muslim Brotherhood Memo blesses the burning of churches.

47 churches and monasteries that have been burned, robbed, or attacked since Aug. 14 in a wave of violence against Christians since the brutal police crackdown on the former president's supporters, according to Ishak Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. He adds that dozens of Christian schools, other religious buildings, homes, and shops have also been attacked and burned, and seven Christians killed.

One church in Minya, Egypt was forced to cancel Sunday mass for the first time in 1600 years.

Reporter Gary Lane writes

What do Muslim Brotherhood members do when Egyptian Security Forces launch a forewarned operation to clear them from Cairo tent cities? Attack Christians. That’s right.

Morsi supporters responded with a monumental attack–unprecedented in modern times–on churches throughout Egypt. The torching and destruction of churches occurred within six hours of the start of the military crackdown.

Even Aljazerra reported More than 30 churches have been destroyed in the past week as thugs launch a campaign of intimidation.

Why does the Muslim Brotherhood attack churches as part of its argument with the military government?

The first reason is because the Christian minority, unlike the military, is vulnerable. Throughout the long year when Egypt suffered under Morsi’s Islamist rule, Christians and their churches were increasingly subject to attacks as the Muslim movement sought to make the position of the religious minority untenable. 
--
Second, … such attacks are an inextricable part of their worldview as they seek to transform Egypt in their own Islamist image. In the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt, there is no room for Christians or even secular Muslims. That is why so many in Egypt applauded the coup as perhaps the last chance to save the country from permanent Islamist rule.
--
As difficult as it may be for some high-minded Americans to understand, in this case it is the military and not the protesters in Cairo who are seeking to stop tyranny. Though the military is an unattractive ally, anyone seeking to cut off vital U.S. aid to Egypt should remember that the only alternative to it is the party that is currently burning churches.

Andrew McCarthy writes Muslim Brotherhood ‘Reprisals’ & ‘Enemies of Islam’

The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamic supremacist allies – portrayed in the mainstream media as “peaceful protesters” subjected to unprovoked violence by Egyptian security forces – continue their jihad against Christians. And that jihad continues to be portrayed in the mainstream media as “reprisal” attacks, as if it were the Copts rather than the armed forces who had ousted the Brotherhood from power.

IBD: World Silent as Muslim Brotherhood Targets Egypt's Coptic Christians

Amid the raging violence in Egypt, a less-publicized war is being waged against Egypt's long-persecuted Coptic Christians, this time using the excuse that they were somehow involved in the military's ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi from power.

How is it that Vladimir Putin is the only leader who says the world should unite against anti-Christian persecution?

Did you know that the Muslim Brotherhood were Nazi collaborators?

There are huge amounts of archival evidence, including documents showing not only Nazi payments to the Brotherhood but also that the Nazis provided them with arms for a rebellion to kill Christians and Jews in Egypt.  There is no evidence that the Brotherhood has changed its positions.

David Warren in Chronicles of "peace, peace"

In Egypt, we should note that the fate of ten million Christians is on the line. Either the Muslim Brotherhood will be uprooted, or the Christians will be uprooted. There is no “third way,” & those who speak & act as if there were have effectively taken sides, with evil.

Islamic Brotherhood failed to understand the majority of Egyptians rejects fundamentalism

Group’s leadership aims to transform country into Islamic state.

Egypt’s Coptic Church announces support for army, police

Michael Coren Stop the persecution

Yet no matter tragic human suffering is, the deliberate removal of a fourth century church from Egypt is on a different level of sociological violence and ethnic cleansing.  You see, Christianity pre-dates Islam by 600 years, and Egypt was a majority Christian country long before Islam existed. The attack on the church was a clear statement to the 15% of Egyptians who refuse to abandon Christ. “You do not belong, you never existed.”

At almost the same time as the church was destroyed, a little Christian girl, 10-year-old Jessica Boulous, was shot through the chest and killed in Cairo as she walked home from a Bible class.
--
The Copts of Egypt are the indigenous people of the country, with far more rights to the land than many Muslims. But while the world will sympathize with Palestinians, or for that matter Canadian natives and Australian aboriginals, it prefers to ignore persecuted Christians.

U.S. State Dept. Spokeswoman Psaki Denounces ‘Enemies of Islam’

While Obama was forcing Mubarak out, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood was a “largely secular” organization that “eschewed violence.”

On Martha’s Vineyard, Obama disavowed all responsibility for the Muslim Brotherhood while insisting, once again, that its leaders should be set free.

The President denounced  the “arbitrary arrests” of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the “broad crackdown on Mr. Morsi’s associations and supporters” and then insisted “We don’t take sides with any particular party or political figure.”

Allies Thwart America in Egypt Israel, Saudis and U.A.E. Support Military Moves

The U.S.'s closest Middle East allies are undercutting American policy in Egypt, encouraging the military to confront the Muslim Brotherhood rather than reconcile.  The parallel efforts by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have blunted U.S. influence with Egypt's military leadership and underscored how the chaos there has pulled Israel into ever-closer alignment with those Gulf states, officials said. 

A senior Israeli official called the anti-Muslim Brotherhood nations "the axis of reason".

Mark Steyn 

General Sisi has made a calculation that he has a small window of opportunity to inflict damage on the Muslim Brotherhood that will set them back decades and that it is in Egypt’s vital interest to do so. Grasping that, the Brothers are pushing back hard.

For the same reason, the Gulf monarchies, having weathered the immediate storms of the Arab spring and understanding the longer-term threat the Brotherhood represents, have supplanted Washington as Cairo’s principal paymasters:

Canada Free Press. Egypt championing Coptic Christians while Obama plays Nero

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham should take lessons in courage from Egyptian defense minister Col. Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who has vowed to rebuild Coptic Churches destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood.  Not only is the courageous El-Sisi vowing to rebuild Muslim Brotherhood-destroyed Coptic Churches, but his order aims to have them rebuilt ASAP, according to the Mid-East Christian News.
--
Yesterday top U.S. Senate Republicans McCain and Graham were siding against El Sisi and throwing in with the Muslim Brotherhood
--
Obama did take time out from partying to say that the United States has cancelled a joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercise because of the Egyptian crackdown on protests supporting Morsi—without, of course ever mentioning that he was quite willing to have military exercises when it was Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in power.

A list of the churches attacked, looted, destroyed or burned by the Muslim Brotherhood all over Egypt

“Right now there is a bullseye on the back of every Christian living in Egypt,” says Middle East Expert Erick Stakelbeck

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:02 AM | Permalink

July 30, 2013

Unspeakable connections to the world of jihad

Andrew McCarthy lays out the more disturbing side of Huma Abedin Weiner in Huma's Unmentionables, "the elephant in the room goes unnoticed, or at least studiously unmentioned"  While she was Hillary Clinton's aide, the State Department became remarkably cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ms. Abedin’s connections to prominent Islamic-supremacist figures and groups are deemed unsuitable for public discussion – Egyptians may be able to eject the Muslim Brotherhood, but in today’s Washington it is raising questions about the Muslim Brotherhood that gets you run out of town.
Diana West asks Why Won't the Media Cover Huma Abedin's Ties to the Global Jihad Movement?
It is not enough to analyze Huma Abedin as a "political wife." Abedin is also a veritable Muslim Brotherhood princess. As such, the ideological implications of her actions -- plus her long and privileged access to US policy-making through Hillary Clinton -- must be considered, particularly in the context of national security.

But talk about paradoxes. In an era when the most minute and lurid descriptions of her husband's anatomical and sexual details are common talk, Huma Abedin's familial and professional connections to the world of jihad are unspeakable.

IBD Under Sequester, U.S. Giving Islamists $500 Million

Circumventing Congress and with no fanfare, President Obama last week issued an executive order enabling him to send an additional $500 million directly to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank — much of which you can bet will wind up going to the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist organization.

According to Obama, "it is important to the national security interests of the United States to waive the provisions of" Congress' legislative restrictions "in order to provide funds . .. to the Palestinian Authority."

At the beginning of his first term, Obama promised close to $1 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority, with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledging none of it would reach Hamas.

But there's not enough money to open the White House to tourists.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:26 PM | Permalink

July 18, 2013

"Instead of investigating the militant Boston mosque where the bomber brothers were radicalized, the FBI partnered with it for political "outreach."

The PC-ification Of The FBI

Homeland Insecurity: If there's any doubt the FBI's gone soft on Islamic terror and may be overlooking more Boston-style plots, witness the bureau chief's recent Hill testimony.

In a testy exchange with Republican lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller reluctantly acknowledged FBI counterterrorism training materials have been purged of references to "jihad" and "Islam" and that counterterrorism agents have been restricted from doing undercover investigations at mosques.

These outrageous policies likely contributed to the FBI missing signs of radicalization in the Muslim community — including that of the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. The marathon bombers operated in plain sight of the FBI before killing three and wounding 260.
--
Mueller confirmed that instead of investigating the militant Boston mosque where the bomber brothers were radicalized, the FBI partnered with it for political "outreach."

Asked if he was aware the mosque was co-founded by a convicted terrorist cited by the Treasury Department as an al-Qaida fundraiser, Mueller sheepishly replied, "I was not."
--
The same mosque also has graduated several other convicted terrorists. The FBI helped put all these terrorists behind bars, yet didn't tie them back to the mosque. If the bureau had, it would have seen something rotten with the leadership there
--
Mueller wasn't always Mr. Magoo. Who put the PC blinders on him? Eric Holder.  In October 2011, the attorney general quietly put in force two policies that have made the nation far more vulnerable to homegrown terrorism.

For one, he set up a special review committee to curb mosque investigations, classifying the names of the reviewers, who reportedly may include outside parties.  Also that month he ordered a review of all FBI counterterrorist training manuals "to identify and correct any material that may be construed as offensive to someone of the Islamic faith," according to a directive sent to all FBI field offices.
Reviewers proceeded to purge references to "jihad" and "Islam" in connection to terrorism.

Instead, they are spying on us.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 PM | Permalink

July 3, 2013

Growing trend of baby-hating

At special session of the Texas state legislature. Pro-abortion protestors chant 'Hail, Satan' to drown out pro-life protestors singing Amazing Grace. 

The Anchoress comments

“Amazing Grace” is a psycho-spiritual weapon. When it is deployed, people cannot be shocked at what weapons others will use in response.

The Anchoress writes, "Simcha Fisher speaks truth" ( in The Earth is a Nursery )    "Only Bad Guys Hate Babies"  Succinct.  To the point. 

increasingly people feel entitled to publicly demonstrate their hatreds, not just for people who think differently (“enemies of the human race!”), or on political issues (“I hope your daughter gets raped!”); they feel okay about hating little kids.

Active baby-hating is not a sign of a healthy society.

And in another post, on the growing trend of adults expressing displeasure at the public  existence of children and their parents

— as one contributor to the New York Times Magazine put it — “These wan goons. . .bringing their squealing offspring to brunch or for clogging up the sidewalk…”

[The New York Times Magazine] featured this letter to the editor, written by “Carolyn” in Maryland:

Five years ago I faced an unwanted pregnancy. At the time, I had a 2 year-old and a 4 year-old, and I was working full time as a college professor and living an upper-middle-class life. When I found out I was pregnant at eight weeks, I consulted with my husband (who supported either decision) and we scheduled an abortion the following week. I was overwhelmed at the thought of caring for another child. Had I been turned away, I’m sure that I would be able to report that I loved that third child, that our family was doing well and that there were no notable negative impacts or issues as a result of bearing and raising the child from an unwanted pregnancy. I can, however, say the same thing now, having not had that child.

The blood runs cold. Break it down to its essentials, and it’s “Yeah, I could have had the kid and we’d have still been fine, but what’s the difference? This way I wasn’t inconvenienced.”

Or, put another way: “I just sacrificed my child to the idol of I. The idol of myself. I can’t even claim he was sacrificed for the idol of future plans, or that she was sacrificed to the idol of a career. No, I just sacrificed my child to me. To the idea of me: Ms. Personal Autonomy. I am like a god! I decide who lives and dies; didn’t feel like having another baby, so I killed it. Because I could. My other two kids only breathe and live by my grace, alone.”
--
It is precisely because a baby brings the unconditional love of God to us in a renewed way that evil cannot abide it, and works so desperately to prevent it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

"Final Hours" in Egypt

The largest protest in Egypt's history continues day after day as millions take to the streets to protest the Morsi government.  More than 22 million Egyptians have signed a petition calling for the country's Islamist president to step down.

 Egyptian-Largest Protest

Egyptians are gathering nationwide.  11 Powerful Images From the Largest Protest In Egypt's History

The 'final hours' showdown

The military chiefs, wanting to restore order in a country racked by protests over Mursi's Islamist policies, issued a call to battle in a statement headlined "The Final Hours". They said they were willing to shed blood against "terrorists and fools" after Mursi refused to give up his elected office.

Mursi said, "The price … is my life."

 Egypt-Obama-Morsi

For ordinary Egyptians, fixing the economy is key.

They are demanding a functioning economy that works under the rule of law. Particularly, the young in Egypt have been increasingly frustrated about their country’s outmoded economic system and discouraging reality. The continuing lack of economic reforms has fueled discontent since 2011, with state finances left drained by extensive subsidies on food, energy, and other key commodities…..President Mohamed Morsi has been more focused on expanding his own power and consolidating the control of the Muslim Brotherhood than in advancing the declared goals of Egypt’s democratic revolution and reviving Egypt’s worsening economy.

Let's not forget that earlier this month Morsi appointed a hardline Islamist to govern Luxor who is a member of the militant group responsible for the 1997 Luxor massacre that killed 58 tourists.

In Luxor itself, Morsi's move was met with anger. "How is this guy from this group [Gamaa Islamiya] going to encourage tourism?" asked Alaa Mahmoud, the owner of Magic Horizon, a tourism company in the city. "No one in Luxor wants him. It's like Morsi wants to finish the country."

The NSF's Abdel Ghany said: "It sends a very bad message to the tourist industry and the families of those killed … Morsi is destroying the image of Egypt as a tourist destination and a civil society in favour of satisfying the Salafist groups."

So much furor erupted that Adel Khayat, the newly appointed governor of Luxor had to resign.

Spengler writes Egypt Falls Back on the Military

The population has had enough. Beans (not to mention animal protein) have been priced out of the budget of the poorer half of Egypt’s citizens for weeks, and the country is nearly out of fuel — which means, in the middle of the wheat harvest, nearly out of bread. There isn’t much to hope for here, but there are best and worst case scenarios.

The worst case scenario is the status quo: chaos in politics, violence in the streets, complete cessation of tourism, and economic breakdown. This is not an economy with a lot of buffer. Nearly a fifth of Egyptians were suffering from malnutrition when the World Health Organization surveyed the country in 2011. WFO estimates that two of five Egyptian adults are mentally and physically “stunted” by inadequate diet. The slow starvation of Egyptians under successive military regimes is gradually turning into actual hunger.

Muslim Brotherhood offices destroyed

The scene at the headquarters was a microcosm of the extreme polarisation affecting Egyptian society, which is divided between those who may be religious, but do not seek an Islamic state – and Islamists like the Brotherhood, which seeks to use the concepts of Islamic law to govern Egypt. Even state institutions appear to have been drawn into the division. The police, who defended the same building during a similar attack in March, did not intervene on Sunday.

One little reported connection of the Muslim Brotherhood to the death of Americans. The Muslim Brotherhood's Connection to Benghazi

"Written solely as a perfunctory after-action report …an interdepartmental memo from the Libyan National Security offices in Tripoli to the Ministry of the Interior…details several confessions of the six Egyptians in Libyan custody for the 9.11.12 bombing of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi….
details the involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as being involved with and in the funding, support, planning, and execution of the attack.
--
It was prepared by Mahmoud Ibrahim Sharif, the Director of National Security of Libya
.  In his report Sharif conveys that the Libyan investigation unearthed an Egyptian (terror) cell that had been involved in the planning and execution of the attack. Six confessions from those arrested at the scene--all of them Egyptian--and all connected to the U.S. terror watch listed group Ansar al-Sharia.
--
"during interrogations, these Egyptian jihadi cell members 'confessed to very serious and important information concerning the financial sources of the group and the planners of the event and the storming and burning of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi…. And among the more prominent figures whose names were mentioned by cell members during confessions: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi…'"

The investigation also seems to have unearthed a video taken the night of the attack in which members of the jihadists identify themselves as being sent personally by "Dr. Morsi."

It's time to Overthrow Morsi and end the Muslim Brotherhood's dictatorial rule in Egypt

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:11 AM | Permalink

June 27, 2013

"Whatever happened to the intellectual depth of the serious atheists?"

I always pay attention when Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes.  His latest is in The Spectator

Atheism has failed.  Only religion can defeat the new barbariansThe West is suffering for its loss of faith. Unless we rediscover religion, our civilization is in peril

Future intellectual historians will look back with wonder at the strange phenomenon of seemingly intelligent secularists in the 21st century believing that if they could show that the first chapters of Genesis are not literally true, that the universe is more than 6,000 years old and there might be other explanations for rainbows than as a sign of God’s covenant after the flood, the whole of humanity’s religious beliefs would come tumbling down like a house of cards and we would be left with a serene world of rational non-believers getting on famously with one another.

Whatever happened to the intellectual depth of the serious atheists, the forcefulness of Hobbes, the passion of Spinoza, the wit of Voltaire, the world-shattering profundity of Nietzsche? Where is there the remotest sense that they have grappled with the real issues, which have nothing to do with science and the literal meaning of scripture and everything to do with the meaningfulness or otherwise of human life, the existence or non-existence of an objective moral order, the truth or falsity of the idea of human freedom, and the ability or inability of society to survive without the rituals, narratives and shared practices that create and sustain the social bond?

A significant area of intellectual discourse — the human condition sub specie aeternitatis — has been dumbed down to the level of a school debating society. Does it matter? ….Why not leave it at that?

Fair enough, perhaps. But not, I submit, for readers of The Spectator, because religion has social, cultural and political consequences, and you cannot expect the foundations of western civilisation to crumble and leave the rest of the building intact. That is what the greatest of all atheists, Nietzsche, understood with terrifying clarity and what his -latter-day successors fail to grasp at all.

Time and again in his later writings he tells us that losing Christian faith will mean abandoning Christian morality. No more ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’; instead the will to power. …

The history of Europe since the 18th century has been the story of successive attempts to find alternatives to God as an object of worship, among them the nation state, race and the Communist Manifesto. After this cost humanity two world wars, a Cold War and a hundred million lives, we have turned to more pacific forms of idolatry, among them the market, the liberal democratic state and the consumer society, all of which are ways of saying that there is no morality beyond personal choice so long as you do no harm to others.

Even so, the costs are beginning to mount up. Levels of trust have plummeted throughout the West as one group after another — bankers, CEOs, media personalities, parliamentarians, the press — has been hit by scandal. Marriage has all but collapsed as an institution, with 40 per cent of children born outside it and 50 per cent of marriages ending in divorce. Rates of depressive illness and stress-related syndromes have rocketed especially among the young. A recent survey showed that the average 18- to 35-year-old has 237 Facebook friends. When asked how many they could rely on in a crisis, the average answer was two. A quarter said one. An eighth said none.

None of this should surprise us. This is what a society built on materialism, individualism and moral relativism looks like. It maximises personal freedom but at a cost. As Michael Walzer puts it: ‘This freedom, energising and exciting as it is, is also profoundly disintegrative, making it very difficult for individuals to find any stable communal support, very difficult for any community to count on the responsible participation of its individual members. It opens solitary men and women to the impact of a lowest common denominator, commercial culture.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:43 AM | Permalink

June 20, 2013

How Institutions Decay and Economies Die

""We are living through a profound crisis of the institutions that were the keys to our previous success—not only economic, but also political and cultural—as a civilization"

writes Niall Ferguson in his new book, The Great Degeneration, which is reviewed by George Melloan who calls it A Jeremiad to Heed.

Doomsayers are never popular, but sometimes they're right….That maxim applies to the writings of the economic historian Niall Ferguson.
--
With a focus on the United States, "The Great Degeneration" warns that Western civilization has entered into a period of decline due mainly to the strangling of private initiative by the ever-encroaching state. "….

The threatened institutions are representative government, the free market, the rule of law and civil society. Mr. Ferguson is dismayed at the explosion of public debt, the destruction of markets by excessive regulation, the replacement of the rule of law by "a rule of lawyers," and the decay of civil society as represented in part by the decline of thousands of private, voluntary organizations (Rotarians, Elks, et al.) that have contributed so much to social order and progress in America.
--
The most worrisome evidence of decline, he believes, is the "crisis of public debt," with government budgets out of control in the U.S. and Europe. He sees outsize debt as a symptom of the "betrayal of future generations: a breach of Edmund Burke's social contract between the present and the future."
[U.S. future obligations exceed future revenues by $200 trillion, and state and local governments face $38 trillion in unfunded obligations.]
--
The French author Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the scope of American civil society in the 19th century, the many associations that owed their "birth and development" not to law but to individuals freely joining forces. Mr. Ferguson agrees with Tocqueville that "the state—with its seductive promise of 'security from the cradle to the grave'—was the real enemy of civil society."

Earlier this month, Ferguson wrote two op eds in the Wall Street Journal based on the premises of his new book.

How America Lost Its Way  It is getting ever harder to do business in the United States, argues Niall Ferguson, and more stimulus won't help: Our institutions need fixing.

If poor countries can get rich by improving their institutions, is it not possible that rich countries can get poor by allowing their institutions to degenerate? I want to suggest that it is.
--
We used to have the rule of law. Now it is tempting to say we have the rule of lawyers, which is something different.
--
The decline of American institutions is no secret. Yet it is one of those strange "unknown knowns" that is well documented but largely ignored.
--
Each year, the World Economic Forum publishes its Global Competitiveness Index. Since it introduced its current methodology in 2004, the U.S. score has declined by 6%. (In the same period China's score has improved by 12%.) …In only one category out of 22 is the U.S. ranked in the global top 20 (the strength of investor protection). In seven categories it does not even make the top 50.

Niall Ferguson: The Regulated States of America  Tocqueville saw a nation of individuals who were defiant of authority. Today? Welcome to Planet Government.

In "Democracy in America," published in 1833, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the way Americans preferred voluntary association to government regulation. ...Unlike Frenchmen, he continued, who instinctively looked to the state to provide economic and social order, Americans relied on their own efforts. "In the United States, they associate for the goals of public security, of commerce and industry, of morality and religion. There is nothing the human will despairs of attaining by the free action of the collective power of individuals."
--
Instead of joining together to get things done, Americans have increasingly become dependent on Washington.
--
As the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Clyde Wayne Crews shows in his invaluable annual survey of the federal regulatory state, we have become the regulation nation almost imperceptibly…..The cost of all this, Mr. Crews estimates, is $1.8 trillion annually—that's on top of the federal government's $3.5 trillion in outlays, so it is equivalent to an invisible 65% surcharge on your federal taxes, or nearly 12% of GDP. Especially invidious is the fact that the costs of regulation for small businesses (those with fewer than 20 employees) are 36% higher per employee than they are for bigger firms.

Here are three recent examples of what Ferguson is talking about.

Department of Labor vs. me

What started as a small family business operating out of our home has grown to 22 states. Now, though, it might all turn out to be illegal, thanks to the bureaucratic thinking of the Department of Labor.

The business model that parents thought was an innovation, but that Labor sees as a menace, is simple but effective. You might have heard of it: cooperation.

Then there is the struggle to start  a charter school in Maryland using a classical curriculum and science that Charles Murray talks about in A case study in the government as enemy.   

Or the harassment experienced by one man who tried to start a non-profit to challenge the imagination of the rising generation by engaging them with the great books and America's moral and constitutional order.  The IRS targeted my organization.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:31 AM | Permalink

June 18, 2013

The Suicide of French historian Dominique Venner in Notre Dame Cathedral

Suicide at Notre Dame a Warning to the West

Dominique Venner was, from my understanding, neither Catholic nor formally pagan: his spiritual life was found in a kind of reverence for the heritage of Europe; that heritage includes both pagan and Christian religion, and so he admired both. His suicide in the cathedral was a final act of respect, as well as a powerful setting for the message he intended to convey. He saw the cathedrals of Europe as artistic manifestations of the genius of his people. In his suicide note, “Reasons for a Voluntary Death,” he explained,

I am healthy in body and mind… However, in the evening of my life, facing immense dangers to my French and European homeland, I feel the duty to act as long as I still have strength. I believe it necessary to sacrifice myself to break the lethargy that plagues us. I give up what life remains to me in order to protest and to found. I chose a highly symbolic place, the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, which I respect and admire: she was built by the genius of my ancestors on the site of cults still more ancient, recalling our immemorial origins.

Venner sees himself as the founder of something new, in defense of something old. This calls to mind another founding, born out of rape. That is the founding of the Roman Republic, which was inspired in large part by the suicide of a Roman woman, Lucretia….
This act inspired the revolution that overthrew the monarchy of Rome…. But the Roman founding was born out of suicide and shame—not the shame of Lucretia, but the shaming of her husband and father by the horrible acts done to her. So too, Dominique Venner’s suicide mirrors of the suicide of the West, and is meant to shame us.

The final piece that he wrote on his personal blog, “The May 26 Protests and Heidegger,” gives a clearer explanation of his death than does his suicide letter. It contains a warning and a call to arms. …Venner himself expressed horror at the notion of “gay marriage,” but his objection to the culture of relativism goes deeper than that. He relates the words of an Algerian blogger,

“In any case,” he said, “in 15 years the Islamists will be in power in France and will remove this law.” Not to please us, we suspect, but because it is contrary to Sharia (Islamic law)…..“The May 26 protestors cannot ignore this reality. Their struggle cannot be limited to the rejection of gay marriage. The ‘great replacement’ of the population of France and Europe, denounced by the writer Renaud Camus, is a far more catastrophic danger for the future.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:11 AM | Permalink

June 17, 2013

A Great Speech

Yuval Levin's great speech

Gratitude and Seeing the Best Intentions of Your Brother Voicing an Opposing View

To my mind, conservatism is gratitude. Conservatives tend to begin from gratitude for what is good and what works in our society and then strive to build on it, while liberals tend to begin from outrage at what is bad and broken and seek to uproot it.

You need both, because some of what is good about our world is irreplaceable and has to be guarded, while some of what is bad is unacceptable and has to be changed. We should never forget that the people who oppose our various endeavors and argue for another way are well intentioned too, even when they’re wrong, and that they’re not always wrong.

But we can also never forget what moves us to gratitude, and so what we stand for and defend: the extraordinary cultural inheritance we have; the amazing country built for us by others and defended by our best and bravest; America’s unmatched potential for lifting the poor and the weak; the legacy of freedom—of ordered liberty—built up over centuries of hard work.

We value these things not because they are triumphant and invincible but because they are precious and vulnerable, because they weren’t fated to happen, and they’re not certain to survive. They need us—and our gratitude for them should move us to defend them and to build on them.
--
Conservatives often begin from gratitude because we start from modest expectations of human affairs—we know that people are imperfect, and fallen, and weak; that human knowledge and power are not all they’re cracked up to be; and we’re enormously impressed by the institutions that have managed to make something great of this imperfect raw material. So we want to build on them because we don’t imagine we could do better starting from scratch.

Liberals often begin from outrage because they have much higher expectations—maybe even utopian expectations—about the perfectibility of human things and the potential of human knowledge and power. They’re often willing to ignore tradition and to push aside institutions that channel generations of wisdom because they think we can do better on our own.
--
The American idea of progress is the tradition that we’re defending. It is made possible precisely by sustaining our deep ties to the ideals of liberty, and equality, and human dignity expressed in our founding and our institutions. The great moral advances in our history have involved the vindication of those principles—have involved America becoming more like itself.

And in any society, the task of sustaining those kinds of institutions for the next generation is the essential task—the irreplaceable precondition for everything else. That is the work first and foremost of families, and of communities. It can also be the work of educators, and of legislators. The work of democratic capitalism and of our constitutional order.

They are all connected by the need to sustain the great gift that is our country, and when we fail to see them as connected—when for instance we think we can advance our economic agenda at the expense of our concerns about the culture—we risk losing that gift altogether.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2013

Blind to Terror

Obama's Snooping Excludes Mosques, Missed Boston Bombers

The White House assures that tracking our every phone call and keystroke is to stop terrorists, and yet it won't snoop in mosques, where the terrorists are.   That's right, the government's sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized.

Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee. Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests? Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.
--
The FBI never canvassed Boston mosques until four days after the April 15 attacks, and it did not check out the radical Boston mosque where the Muslim bombers worshipped.  The bureau didn't even contact mosque leaders for help in identifying their images after those images were captured on closed-circuit TV cameras and cellphones.

This is particularly disturbing in light of recent independent surveys of American mosques, which reveal some 80% of them preach violent jihad or distribute violent literature to worshippers.  What other five-alarm jihadists are counterterrorism officials missing right now, thanks to restrictions on monitoring the one area they should be monitoring?

Barry Rubin explains how this came to be in Why Expanded Government Spying Doesn’t Mean Better Security Against Terrorism

Isn’t it absurd that the United States — which can’t finish a simple border fence to keep out potential terrorists; can’t stop a would-be terrorist in the U.S. Army who gives a PowerPoint presentation on why he is about to shoot people (Major Nidal Hasan); can’t follow up on Russian intelligence warnings about Chechen terrorist contacts (the Boston bombing); or a dozen similar incidents — must now collect every telephone call in the country?

Isn’t it absurd that under this system, a photo-shop clerk has to stop an attack on Fort Dix by overcoming his fear of appearing “racist” to report a cell of terrorists?

That it was left to brave passengers to jump a would-be “underpants bomber” from Nigeria, because his own father’s warning that he was a terrorist was insufficient?

Isn’t it absurd that terrorists and terrorist supporters visit the White House, hang out with the FBI, and advise the U.S. government on counter-terrorist policy, even while — as CAIR does — advising Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement? And that they are admiringly quoted in the media?

Meanwhile, a documented, detailed revelation of this behavior in MERIA Journal by Patrick Poole – ”Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy” — a report which rationally should bring down the government, does not get covered by a single mass media outlet?

Rubin wrote earlier this month,  Make Room for Islamistgate: The Obama Administration’s Newest, (Biggest?) Scandal

For the last four years, the Obama administration has conducted a major “outreach” program to Islamic groups in the United States and in the Middle East. In a comprehensive article, investigative journalist and PJ Media contributor Patrick Poole now presents the full scoop and scope of what’s been going on. His article — “Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Policy” — appearing in the new Summer issue of the MERIA Journal is a game-changer.

The majority of these groups and individuals promoted by the Obama administration have been radical Islamists, particularly Muslim Brotherhood cadre, and more than occasionally were people involved in terrorist activity.

Actual moderate Muslims have been neglected and isolated by this project, which has helped the radicals, Islamists, and pro-terrorists gain hegemony in the Muslim community in America.

Blind to Terror:  The U.S. Government's Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy

Why has the U.S. government called certain Islamic groups supporters of terror in federal court, and then turned around and called these same organizations “moderates” and embraced them as outreach partners? In a number of cases from the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, the leaders of these organizations (some of whom are now in federal prison) were under active investigation at the same time they were meeting with senior U.S. leaders at the White House and the Capitol and helping develop U.S. policy.

Now these same Islamic organizations and leaders have openly encouraged a purge of counterterrorism training that have effectively blinded law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence agencies to active terror threats as seen in the inaction of the FBI concerning the Boston bombing suspects and other terror cases. This study poses serious questions as to the efficacy and even security concerns about U.S. government outreach to Islamic groups, which often turn out to be Islamist militants, enemies of Islamic moderation, and even supporters of terrorism.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:23 PM | Permalink

June 11, 2013

Scandalpalooza

There are so many scandals in Washington now coming to light, it's a scandalpalooza.  Beyond the scandals we know of, Benghazi, IRS, the DOJ and NSA, other scandals are erupting.    The common thread to all is abuse of power and the chilling of opposition to the party line by the bullying of the government.

There would probably be more if the Inspector Generals were appointed for State, Interior, Labor, Homeland Security and the Agency for International Development but the President has failed to appoint them.   Obama's Inspector General Negligence

All told, an IG has been missing in action at each of those cabinet departments and the AID agency for between 18 months and five years.

In the State Department

CBS:  U.S. State Department Cover-Ups Range from Prostitution Charges to Drug Rings
including allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults” with foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries” — a problem the report says was “endemic.”
--
investigators were told to stop probing the case of a U.S. ambassador who was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park. The memo states that the ambassador was permitted to return to his post despite having, “routinely ditched…his protective security detail” in order to “solicit sexual favors from prostitutes.”

 Howard-Gutman-Belgium-Ambassador Howard Gutman, Ambassador to Belgium, identified as the U.S. diplomat accused of "soliciting sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children" denies the charges.

After being called back to Washington, he met with Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, but kept his job.    Gutman raised $500k for Obama and helped finance the inaugural.

DSS agents told the Inspector General's investigators that senior State Department officials told them to back off, a charge that Fedenisn says is "very" upsetting.

"We were very upset. We expect to see influence, but the degree to which that influence existed and how high up it went, was very disturbing," she said.

At the EPA.  Four separate scandals going on at the EPA  including making conservatives pay a fortune for FOIAs to be granted while waiving fees for liberal groups  and leaking confidential information on farmers and cattle facilities to environmental groups

At the FHA.  Yet Another Obama Cover-Up: FHA Bailout Fear

Subprime: For years, the administration has denied FHA troubles. But emails reveal it not only knew of them, but also withheld evidence of projected insolvency from Congress.
--
The agency is letting lower-income borrowers get loans just three years after foreclosure with as little as 3% down and subprime-low credit scores. In fact, 40% of newer FHA-backed loans are subprime.

The risky lending has led to higher delinquencies. Now at 17%, delinquencies on FHA loans are so high the administration has extended the grace period for repayments on troubled loans to a full year.

Last year, the FHA secretly conducted a Fed-style stress test that found agency losses could hit $115 billion. Because the results were politically embarrassing, FHA chose to not disclose them.

At the GSA  According to the IG, Feds in the GSA Threw Contracts to Crony Companies

The stunning report shows that GSA managers routinely overruled contracting officers on certain accounts, including Carahsoft and two large IT contracts with Deloitte and Oracle. The contracts amounted to $900 million in 2011 alone. The IG found, according to the Federal Times, that “After GSA managers intervened in contracting officer decisions, the result was higher-than-appropriate prices for federal customers and a demoralized acquisition staff for GSA.”

At  HHS.  At least 436 Department of Health and Human Services employees Had Insider Tip of $8 Billion Medicare Decision that set private health insurers' stock soaring.  The Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) have launched a probe to investigate possible insider trading.

In the Army  Soldier Who Read Conservative Books Now Faces Charges

A member of the U.S. Army Band who said he was reprimanded for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his personal car, serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at a party and reading books written by conservative authors like Sean Hannity is now facing Article 15 charges – which cropped up shortly after he went public with his complaints. 

Last summer he was reprimanded for reading David Limbaugh and Mark Levin  privately and silently backstage at a U.S. Army Band concert.  A superior officer told him he was causing "unit disruption" and offending other soldiers

At the Energy Dept.  Nepotism ‘open and widely accepted’ at Energy Department.    Despite the fact that Federal law prohibits  public officials from appointing, employing or even advocating for their children or relatives to work within their agencies

At NSA  Pat Cadell on the sordid revelations .  The Fuse Has Been Lit:  Seven Critical Points on Uncle Sam's Spying Program

If the IRS was so willing to share confidential information with favored private groups, we shouldn’t be surprised, in the end, to learn that NSA/PRISM material ended up in the hands of Obama friends and allies outside of the government.
--
These communications companies put peepholes into all of our private lives, through which Uncle Sam could sneak a peek.  Every e-mail, every phone call, every text-message--the government knows about them all.  It’s now evident that all these wonderful digital services--many of them, such as Google’s Gmail, given away for free--were, in fact, a kind of Trojan Horse.

More at the IRSHouse panel to probe alleged seizure of medical records by IRS

A top House committee launched another probe of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tuesday after a lawsuit alleged that the agency improperly seized millions of personal medical records in California.

The IRS seized 60 million records of 10 million people  without a search warrant or subpoena

Why the IRS is not answering questions about who did what.  Wow: IRS Claims Law Protecting the Privacy of Taxpayer Information Also Protects the Privacy of Those Who Violate Taxpayer Privacy

When everything is a crime, government date mining matters  especially in a flourishing culture of intimidation directed at the Tea Party, traditional marriage supporters, conservatives and other opponents of Obama and his agenda

Losing America by Peter Kirsanow

The “fundamental transformation” of America proceeds apace. The erosion of our freedoms and traditions, once incremental and barely perceptible, accelerates daily.

Armies of bureaucrats commanded by political ideologues remarkable mainly for their galactic incompetence intrude on ever more aspects of our lives — aspects both large and small. They tell us what light bulbs we’re allowed to use and how much water we may flush. They stick swabs in our mouths to collect our DNA and order us to buy health insurance we don’t want. They can seize our land if they think they know how to use it better, or stop us from using our land because a favored amphibian might live there too.
--
Trust us, they say, it’s for your own good; a sovereign imperative, essential for national security. This from a government that freely lets millions cross our borders illegally without bothering to find out even the slightest detail about them.

Roger Kimball  writes

the transformation of us citizens — formerly the employers of all those “public servants” (it sounds funny now, doesn’t it: “public servants” forsooth!) swanning about in Washington on our money — the transformation, I say, of us citizens into serfs, i.e., slaves working for a feudal master.

Via American Digest is  finem respice

If you live in the United States it may finally be dawning on you that you have something of a problem in the government to which you are now a Subject….In fact, given the manner you have quashed the opportunity- almost unique in the history of the species- created by an impossibly rare coexistence of liberty, private property, free markets, the rise of scientific method, and freedom of expression (to name just a few) there is more than a passing argument to be made that your society has squandered one of the greatest intellectual and individualistic fortunes in history.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink

June 6, 2013

D-Day 69 years later

 Robertcapa Dday

When freedom came ashore: Stunning shots of Allied troops storming Omaha Beach in Normandy by war photographer Robert Capa and how they were almost lost forever

War photographer took 106 photos - but only 11 of them survived because of a blunder when processing the film.  Life magazine picture editor in London John Morris told staff to 'rush!' in the dark room.  In their haste, three whole rolls of film melted and over half of the fourth was destroyed
Robert Capa's images - later named The Magnificent Eleven - are the closest any photographer got to the action  Capa landed just off the beach in a US landing craft and took his pictures from the water.
---
Capa was aboard a landing ship carrying Company E of 16th Regiment, First Infantry of the US Army which landed on Omaha beach in the early hours of June 6.
As machine guns were fired all around him, the troops - and the war photographer - waded towards the beach under heavy enemy fire.  Omaha beach proved to be the worst killing field of the first day of the invasion, with an estimated 3,000 US soldiers killed within a matter of hours.

He later wrote in his book, called Slightly out of Focus: 'The men from my barge waded in the water. Waist-deep, with rifles ready to shoot, with the invasion obstacles and the smoking beach in the background gangplank to take my first real picture of the invasion.
--
'The boatswain, who was in an understandable hurry to get the hell out of there, mistook my picture-taking attitude for explicable hesitation, and helped me make up my mind with a well-aimed kick in the rear. The water was cold, and the beach still more than a hundred yards away.'

He dived for cover behind a steel object before heading onward in the water for a disabled American tank as he snapped away furiously.

The photographer held his camera high above his head to stop his precious film being damaged and later ran towards an incoming landing craft. He was hauled aboard and spirited away to England where most of his shots were inadvertently destroyed in the developing room.

What courage those men had.    Ronald Reagan gave one of his greatest speeches on the 40th Anniversary:

We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For 4 long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
--

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: ``I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.''

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

You can experience D-Day live and minute by minute here

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:11 PM | Permalink

June 5, 2013

A Potemkin Village Rises in Ireland for the G8 World Summit

Fake villages will greet President Obama and other G8 world leaders in Fermanagh Fake shop fronts and derelict buildings covered in billboards disguise economic plight

 Fake-Shop-Stickers+Shop+Fronts

Fake shop front - local councils have hired workers to paint fake shop fronts stocked with attractive but illusory produce for the pleasure of the G8 Summit meeting talking place in Fermanagh this month.

According to Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE, local councils have hired workers to paint fake shop fronts stocked with attractive but illusory produce.

They have also been contracted to cover derelict buildings with colorful billboards, the better to hide the real economic hardship being felt in towns and villages close to the five star golf resort where G8 leaders will meet this month.

Critics have called the move a Potemkin village charade, named after the fake village created by Russian minister Grigory Potemkin to fool Empress Catherine II about the state of locality during her visit to Crimea in 1787.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:53 AM | Permalink

May 29, 2013

When tribal cultures occupy London

Daniel Greenfield writes Afghanistan Comes to London

Five years ago, the sight of Muslim terrorists beheading British soldiers was a horror that could happen in Afghanistan or Iraq. Now it has happened in broad daylight in the capital of the United Kingdom.

In a decade, 600,000 white Londoners have fled the city. Those are the sorts of numbers you would expect from the Syrian civil war. Their place has been taken by the million Muslims occupying the city.
--
Muslim fighters have torn Somalia apart. And importing 200,000 of them into the United Kingdom is beginning to have the same effect. There are an estimated 70,000 Somalis in Greater London. That makes London the 12th largest city in Somalia. Nearly 2 percent of Somalia now lives in the UK.

80 percent of Somalis in the UK live in public housing. They have the lowest employment rate of every immigrant group in the country. And within four years, they had managed to rack up over ten thousand arrests. Every effort to integrate them has failed. Rather than the Somalis becoming British, shards of Britain have become little Mogadishus.

The Somalis are not alone in this regard. Muslim immigration to the UK has brought the norms of Somalia, Afghanistan and Egypt to the streets of London. Individual acts of violence can be overlooked. But there is nothing individual about all these cases. This is a culture of violence.

Islam sanctifies that culture of violence. It takes tribal killings and endows them with the status of a religious duty. Jihad is simply gang warfare, no different than the kind practiced by the Woolwich Manz, given theological meaning. Men have been butchering other men with machetes throughout Africa. But when a Muslim mutilates a British soldier with a machete, then he is engaging in a religious ritual.
--
What happened near Woolwich Commons would not have been considered extraordinary in Afghanistan, Somalia or Syria. It is only extraordinary because it has been a long time since rampaging Vikings were disemboweling the locals. It is only extraordinary because the nation is hobbled by the assumptions of civilization. And one of those basic assumptions is that murderers with red hands will not carry out beheadings in your streets.


Brendan O'Neill, The Savagery of Identity Politics

One of the most shocking things about the brutal attack in Woolwich yesterday was the arrogance with which one of the bloodied knifemen claimed to be acting on behalf of all Muslims. In what sounded like a South London accent, this British-seeming, casually dressed young man bizarrely spoke as if he were a representative of the ummah. He talked about “our lands and what “our people” have to go through every day.  He presumably meant Iraqis and Afghanis, or perhaps the broader global “Muslim family”.

How can a couple of men so thoroughly convince themselves that they speak for all Muslims, to the extent that they seriously believe their savage and psychotic attack on a man in the street is some kind of glorious act of Islamic resistance? Perhaps because they live in a country in which claiming to speak “on behalf of” a community, even if you’ve never been elected by or even seriously talked to that community, is taken seriously. A country where one’s identity, one’s racial or religious or cultural make-up, now counts for everything, certainly for more than what one does or what one believes. A country in which the politics of identity, the narrow and deeply divisive communal politics of shared cultural traits, has been privileged over all other kinds of politics.
--
Identity politics breeds narcissism and arrogance, a belief that one is special because of where one comes from or looks like. It fosters petty grievances, too, inviting people to think of themselves as a threatened little cultural corner, being walked over by the ignorant, culture-lacking mainstream. In some cases, these feelings, it seems, can become completely unhinged, to the extent that we have recently seen horrific acts of violence carried out by people who really, passionately believe that they are global community spokespeople.

Islam’s Parallel Emirate in the U.K.  Andrew McCarthy quotes Soren Kern who reported two years ago.

Islamic extremists are stepping up the creation of “no-go” areas in European cities that are off-limits to non-Muslims.

Many of the “no-go” zones function as microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law. Host-country authorities effectively have lost control in these areas and in many instances are unable to provide even basic public aid such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services.

The “no-go” areas are the by-product of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged Muslim immigrants to create parallel societies and remain segregated rather than become integrated into their European host nations….The Islamic Emirates Project names the British cities of Birmingham, Bradford, Derby, Dewsbury, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Sheffield, as well as Waltham Forest in northeast London and Tower Hamlets in East London as territories to be targeted for blanket Sharia rule.

What is this but the announced conquering of Britain city by city. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:59 PM | Permalink

April 17, 2013

"A cry of defiance, and not of fear”

  Bostonheraldcov Oneboston

Herald Editorial:  Justice demands, get the bastards

But as the president said yesterday, “Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other and move forward as one proud city.”

Oh, he’s so right on that score. It’s the way this city has always been — always will be — going back to that night celebrated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Revere’s spreading of that alarm at what would be the birth of this nation was, he wrote, “A cry of defiance, and not of fear.”

And so it is today in Boston. We will not live in fear. We will demand that the cowardly bastards who did this be brought to justice. Nothing else will do.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2013

The French have it right when it comes to gay marriage

In this politically charged issue, a disclaimer is necessary.  I have no animus against homosexuals and i've supported civil unions, but I've drawn the line against marriage because I am so concerned with the well-being of children and so opposed to any commodification of human beings.

Adults may have great desire to have children, but they have no "right" to  children.  If a couple can not procreate, they can not buy children or demand the state children provide them children.  They are allowed to adopt children but only if they satisfy the state's requirements of adoption which are concerned with the welfare of the individual child and the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents. 

On the other hand, children have the right to have two parents, male and female.  It is the way nature works.

But we are already deep down the path of turning children into commodities to be bought and sold  There is little or no regulation about sperm donation, about IVF, about surrogacy and already the consequences are very troublesome for the the children involved.  Do we want even more children with gaping holes in their lives whose Daddy's name is Donor?

I'm  French when it comes to the issue of gay marriage. 

Robert Oscar Lopez is right when he says the French are ahead of us in exposing the great lie of gay marriage.

Gay marriage is posing as liberation for homosexuals but really hiding the nefarious goal of commercializing procreation, turning children into commodities.  Designer children will be a huge business in the future, but without "gay equality" as a smokescreen to distract people from the ugliness of what such a commerce entails, the market would come under massive criticism.

Gay marriage eradicates the role of mother and father and institutionalizes a form of child-rearing that works by contract and purchase, which the government naturally controls and oversees in collaboration with massive corporations.

It was the French man on the street who figured out the big lie -- that this movement for gay marriage is really all about big money, about men like Elton John and Pierre Berge buying children and disposing of women (Berge said that renting a womb to make a baby is like renting a worker's arms in a factory to make a product); that this movement for gay marriage is being pushed not by gay advocates, but by well-funded usurpers of gay rhetoric.
----
Ironically, the left, supposedly against McCarthyism, enjoys the total suppression of dissent at universities and in the press on this issue.  Ironically, the left, ostensibly the party of civil rights, is eagerly leading a lemming charge backward into the sale and purchase of human beings,

Child’s Question: ‘Which Parent Do I Not Need: Mom or Dad?’ Stumps Legislature

Minnesota state legislators considering a same-sex marriage bill for the state did not have an answer to an 11-year-old girl’s question on which parent is not needed.

“Since every child needs a mom and a dad to be born, I don’t think we can change that children need a mom and a dad. I believe God made it that way,” Grace Evans, 11, said before the Minnesota House Committee on Civil Law last week. “I know some disagree, but I want to ask you this question: Which parent do I not need – my mom or my dad?”

Gay marriage is a social experiment that will cause serious harm to children

It is either right to maintain the ideal man-woman definition of marriage – our most important social institution — or it is not. We must not base our decision on compassion for gays (or misunderstood sense of fairness), whether the gay person is our child, a sibling, friend or anyone else.
--
Same-sex couples in New Jersey already receive equal benefits under civil-union law, and these unions deserve distinction for good reason. A new gold-standard, peer-reviewed, family structures study released in June 2012 by sociology professor Mark Regnerus from the University of Texas indicates that the social experiment of homosexual “marriage” will cause serious harm to children. The study found that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are significantly more likely than those raised in a two-parent heterosexual home to: have social and mental health problems requiring therapy, identify themselves as homosexual, choose cohabitation, be unfaithful to partners, contract sexually transmitted diseases, be sexually molested or raped by a parent or adult, have lower income levels, drink to get drunk, and smoke tobacco and marijuana.
--
Consider that the social mistakes we as a society have already made, and are headed toward now, will weigh most heavily on the shoulders of children. They are the innocent victims of social experimentation and have become morally and even physically broken in the name of so-called “freedom, equality and progress.”
--
This month, Doug Mainwaring, a gay man, wrote an insightful article for thepublicdiscourse.com, sharing that intellectual honesty and experience as a gay person raising children can lead to opposing same-sex marriage. “There are perhaps a hundred different things, small and large, that are negotiated between parents and kids every week,” he said. “Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold … someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch ‘deprivation’ on their hearts.”

No Pasaran!, Canada's Precedent in Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: Are There Any Valid Reasons to Be Against Gay Nuptials?

In his book Nation of Bastards, Farrow criticized  warned that by claiming the power to re-invent marriage, the Canadian state “has drawn marriage and the family into a captive orbit. It has reversed the gravitational field between the family and the state… It has effectively made every man, woman, and child a chattel of the state, by turning their most fundamental human connections into mere legal constructs at the state’s disposal. It has transformed those connections from divine gifts into gifts from the state.”
--
By fundamentally redefining marriage, [Douglas Farrow] says, the state has appropriated the institution of marriage and turned children, indeed all citizens, into wards of the state. Marriage and family have always existed in relative autonomy vis a vis the state, resting as they do on the nature of human beings and the natural human family.  In a liberal society, marriage and family mediate between individual and state. As such they are indispensable to liberal democracy.
--
They may or may not be recognized and protected by the state, but marriage and family in any case are not created by it. They are, by their nature and not the state's fiat, the way in which one generation turns from its own concerns to those of the next, requiring a sacrifice and commitment of the autonomous ego to a relationship ordered to procreation, fidelity, and a covenantal relationship involving man, woman, and any children that result from their union.
--
It is true that totalitarian states invariably seek to undermine and subordinate the family and all of civil society, dismantling them and slowly grinding them up, in Nietzsche's expression, "into a random collection of individuals, haphazardly bound together in the common pursuit of selfish ends."

That sounds right for Nazi Germany or Communist Eastern Europe, where all civil society, everything that stands between individual and state, is weakened and destroyed.

But Canada? It sounds far-fetched, but if Farrow is right, we can expect to see, as in Europe today, the increasing control of the state over children's education and socialization (home-schooling was outlawed in Hitler's Germany and just recently parents have been arrested for defying the law). Parents cannot be trusted not to raise their children in their own faith, whose values may contradict those of the state; parents will have fewer and fewer rights to exempt their children from the state's version of sex education and instruction in the moral acceptability of fornication. Professionals, denied protections of conscience, will be fired, not for "imposing their moral views on their clients," but for failing to impose the state's.

The Well-Being of Children

A study by Elizabeth Marquardt and associates entitled “My Daddy’s Name is Donor,”……According to Marquardt, “Donor conceived children know that the parents raising them are also the ones who intentionally denied them a relationship with at least one of their biological parents. The pain they might feel was caused not by some distant birth parent who gave them up, but by the parent who cares for them every day.”

The purpose of adoption is “to find parents for children who need them. Donor conception functions as a market, the purpose of which is to create children for adults who want them.”
----
Calling same-sex relationships marriages harms children. It says to them your need for your own biological father and mother doesn’t matter
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink

April 9, 2013

"Stinky Broke, and Mad” is no way to go through life"

My favorite post of the week that I cannot resist reprinting in its entirety.

Ed Driscoll, The Gray Lady is Always the Last to Know

“Hmm. Turns out Karl Marx was just as smelly and personally useless as his modern-day acolytes!”, Moe Lane quips, adding, “Hey, you want a good laugh?  Figure out when I started to chortle… at the New York Times:”
The Karl Marx depicted in Jonathan Sperber’s absorbing, meticulously researched biography will be unnervingly familiar to anyone who has had even the most fleeting acquaintance with radical politics. Here is a man never more passionate than when attacking his own side, saddled with perennial money problems and still reliant on his parents for cash, constantly plotting new, world-changing ventures yet having trouble with both deadlines and personal hygiene, living in rooms that some might call bohemian, others plain “slummy,” and who can be maddeningly inconsistent when not lapsing into elaborate flights of theory and unintelligible abstraction.
Still, it comes as a shock to realize that the ultimate leftist, the father of Communism itself, fits a recognizable pattern.
As Tim Blair quips, “Stinky Broke, and Mad” is no way to go through life, son. And yeah, that’s the guy whose ideas you want to run with, to totally upend millennia worth of mankind’s accumulated social and economic wisdom, hit the CTL-ALT-DLT keys on civilization, and completely reboot your nation. What could go wrong?

But I love the notion of someone at the Times writing that the discovery of Marx’s foibles comes as any sort of shock, when Paul Johnson’s book Intellectuals — which devotes one of its chapters to Marx’s pathetic day to day life and places him into a recognizable pattern shared by many on the left — was first published in 1989.

Related: And if that’s how little the Times knows about its own religious forefathers, imagine what else is missing in their collective knowledge of history. Or as Michael Walsh writes, “They say you tend to believe what you read in the newspaper until the story concerns something you actually know about. The Times has just proven to 1.2 billion Catholics around the world that it knows nothing about their religion. Read it on all subjects accordingly.”

With only two additions:  The first from the same Jonathan Freeland's review of "Karl Marx" by Jonathan Sperber

Besides the long, devoted marriage to Jenny, there is another love story here: the partnership with Engels, who it seems was prepared to do anything for his comrade. Engels famously subsidized Marx; perhaps less well known is that he spared his friend a scandal by claiming paternity of the child born to the Marx family servant, Lenchen Demuth: the boy was in fact Karl’s son. After the great man’s death, it was Engels who waded through Marx’s scrawled notes to assemble, and publish posthumously, the final two volumes of “Das Kapital.” Even Marx’s signature text, “The Communist Manifesto,” included a 10-point program lifted almost verbatim from an earlier Engels program. Engels was Aaron to Marx’s Moses, able to speak in public and so make up for the deficiencies of his partner, who was burdened by both a strong Rhineland accent and a lisp.

The second from Moe Lane

On one somewhat delicate matter: if you’re schtupping your family servant (…wait, what*?) and need your best friend to claim paternity of you illegitimate kid, you are pretty much by definition not in a “long, devoted marriage” with the woman that you’re cheating on.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 PM | Permalink

March 15, 2013

Who wants to delete the reference to the inherent right to life?

(Monday, March 11) the US and EU called for deleting a re-affirmation that every human being has the inherent right to life, liberty and security of persons.

The US and European Union’s call to remove a reference to the inherent right to life is certainly consistent with their demand for a right to abortion. Not often do they make the mistake of presenting their position so clearly.

It’s up to civilized people to oppose it.

Unbelievable.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:41 AM | Permalink

February 28, 2013

20 years since the War on America Began

Twenty years ago on Tuesday, the first attack on the World Trade Center killed six and injured more than a thousand people. 

Jonathan Tobin writes The Day the War on America Began.

Unlike in 1993, the problem is no longer whether our intelligence and security establishment is serious about fighting terror, but rather whether we as a nation have the will and the patience to go on doing so. The willingness of the Obama administration to embrace the Brotherhood and to go on, as it did after Benghazi, pretending that the war on terror is over, is a sign that our will may be faltering.

It is no small thing that the Islamist government of Egypt that the U.S. has embraced has called for the freeing of Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called “blind sheik” who was the al-Qaeda mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

Al-Qaeda in the United States

Perhaps most troubling is the fact that, as Jonathan points out, “here in the U.S., cases of home-grown Islamist terror continue to crop up.” My colleague Jessica Zuckerman has chronicled the 54 terrorist plots against domestic targets that have been thwarted since 9/11…It is hard to believe that a country which has thwarted about a plot every other month for over a decade, watched the Muslim Brotherhood take over Egypt, and seen an anniversary attack on its consulate in Benghazi could become complacent.

Recent Spate of Killings in the U.S of non-Muslims by Muslims.  Daniel Pipes asks  Was it Jihad or Criminality?  Just one example.

February 5: Yusuf Ibrahim, 27, Egyptian born and living in Jersey City, stands accused of shooting, then cutting off the heads and hands of two Copts, Hanny F. Tawadros and Amgad A. Konds, and burying them in Buena Vista Township, N.J. He is charged with two counts of murder and with desecrating human remains.

And in England 'Boom, boom, boom everywhere… kill': Chilling words of British Muslim terrorists' ringleader as he plotted to murder 2,000 people in Al-Qaeda-backed atrocity in supermarkets and town centres

The leader of an Al Qaeda-backed British Muslim gang who plotted the deadliest terror attack on British soil boasted of a nailbomb attack that could kill 2,000 people, shouting: 'Boom, boom, boom everywhere…kill.'

Chilling police recordings capture Irfan Naseer saying Westerners deserve to be 'terrorised' because 'they wanna have sex like donkeys on the street'.
He adds: 'Why shouldn't we terrorise them, tell me that? You think about it, if someone came in your house, yeah, and started dancing and throughout the night and started basically having orgies and smoking drugs and stuff…you would terrorise them, innit.'  In one sick exchange, another of the terrorists compared the gang to Formula One drivers, saying: 'It's the four suicide bombers driving around ready to take on England.'

'Little Irfan': Birmingham born Irfan Khalid travelled to Pakistan for terror training.  Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, all from Birmingham, were convicted of plotting the 'spectacular campaign' designed to claim as many lives as the 2005 London Underground bombs that killed 52 innocent people

The War is not over and will not be over in our lifetimes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:39 AM | Permalink

February 19, 2013

"“In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished" UPDATED

In the U.K., William Oddie on Pope Benedict's  warnings on secularism and religious liberty

One of the most central insights of Pope Benedict’s pontificate was summed up in his phrase “the dictatorship of relativism”. In his now famous conversation with the German journalist Peter Seewald (the same one on which he said that popes can abdicate), he said this, in explanation: “In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished; this is a real threat we face. The danger is that reason – so-called Western reason – claims that it has now really recognized what is right and thus makes a claim to totality that is inimical to freedom. I believe that we must very emphatically delineate this danger. No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the ‘new religion’ as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind.”
--
There can be little doubt that this secularist dictatorship is being rolled out in this country today, notably in the education system, where in certain key areas, certain forms of behaviour must be presented as being valid and acceptable whether or not teachers believe they are.
--
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury spoke out about the implications for religious liberty of the vote last Tuesday on the same sex “marriage” bill now being pushed (probably irresistibly) through the Commons by the “Conservative” Prime Minister, David Cameron. Bishop Davies last week told married couples gathered from all over his diocese to celebrate landmark anniversaries at an annual Mass of Thanksgiving for Marriage that it was possible to “see the absurdity of changing the identity of marriage in the name of a false understanding of equality by the desire to even strike out the cherished names of ‘mother’ and ‘father’”.

That was a predictable enough criticism. But he also repeated a warning he has given before: having said that recognising the truth of marriage was not “an injustice to be remedied” he went on to predict that soon it could even become an offence to repeat “the beautiful teaching of Christ” that marriage is the lasting union of one man and one woman which forms the foundation of the family.

Update:  Today's example.  Andrew Cuomo’s Radical Abortion Regime

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo seeks to impose a radical new abortion regime on the state, one that goes far beyond the euphemistic byword “choice.” The bill would in fact limit many choices, for instance the choice of Catholic hospitals and other institutions with moral objections to decline to allow abortions to be performed in their facilities. It would limit the choices of organizations that counsel pregnant women if their counseling were held to be insufficiently enthusiastic about abortion. It would limit the choices of organizations that seek to help women in crisis without involving themselves in the politics of abortion.
--
Governor Cuomo’s bill is not about easing access to abortion — those bloody skids already are well-greased. The issue is political domination. The abortion party does not brook resistance, and it steadfastly seeks to ensure that everybody has a hand in its grisly business: taxpayers, employers, priests. All must be implicated. If a religious hospital declines to provide abortions, then it must be forced to do so. If a counseling center treats adoption as preferable to abortion, it will either change its mind or have its mind changed for it by the gentle persuasion of the State of New York.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:19 PM | Permalink

February 4, 2013

Communism, Fascism and liberals

John Gray reviews Vladimir Tismaneanu's The Devil in History, Communism, Fascism, and some lessons of the twentieth century
in Communism, Fascism and liberals now featured in The Times Literary Supplement.

Writing about Tismaneanu's belief that

in important respects Communism and Fascism were at one. He is clear that “Communism is not Fascism, and Fascism is not Communism. Each totalitarian experiment has its own irreducible attributes”. Even so, the two were alike in viewing mass killing as a legitimate instrument of social engineering.
---
Tismaneanu’s account of Communist totalitarianism will be resisted by those who want to believe that it was an essentially humanistic project derailed by events – national backwardness, foreign encirclement and the like. But as he points out, the Soviet state was founded on policies which implied that some human beings were not fully human. Lenin may have held to a version of humanism, but it was one that excluded much of actually existing humankind. …. If radical evil consists in denying the protection of morality to sections of humankind, the regime founded by Lenin undoubtedly qualifies.
--
In its predominant forms, liberalism has been in recent times a version of the religion of humanity, and with rare exceptions – Russell is one of the few that come to mind – liberals have seen the Communist experiment as a hyperbolic expression of their own project of improvement; if the experiment failed, its casualties were incurred for the sake of a progressive cause. To think otherwise – to admit the possibility that the millions who were judged to be less than fully human suffered and died for nothing – would be to question the idea that history is a story of continuing human advance, which for liberals today is an article of faith. That is why, despite all evidence to the contrary, so many of them continue to deny Communism’s clear affinities with Fascism. Blindness to the true nature of Communism is an inability to accept that radical evil can come from the pursuit of progress.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink

December 6, 2012

Decadence and Darwin

More Babies, Please by Russ Douthat

Beneath these policy debates, though, lie cultural forces that no legislator can really hope to change. The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.

Such decadence need not be permanent, but neither can it be undone by political willpower alone. It can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.


Boy did that set off a storm.  What most bothered people was the term decadence.

Douthat responded to his critics, Don't Mention the Decadence 

Or to put it another way, if we have moral obligations to future, as-yet-unborn generations, as almost everyone seems to agree, surely those duties have to include some obligation for somebody to bring those generations into existence in the first place — to imitate the sacrifices that our parents made, and give another generation the chances that we’ve had? And if that basic obligation exists in some form, then surely there comes a point when a culture in which it’s crowded out by other goals, other pursuits and yes, other pleasures can be aptly described as … what’s the word I’m looking for … decadent?
--
Is replacement-level fertility really so much to ask, morally speaking, of people graced with wealth and entertainments and diversions beyond the dreams of any previous generation? If conspicuous consumption is morally dubious when it substitutes for sacrifices on behalf of strangers, as most good progressives seem to think, why isn’t it morally dubious when it substitutes for the more intimate form of sacrifice that made all of our lives possible in the first place?
--
Can it really be that having achieved so much independence and autonomy and professional success, today’s Western women have no moral interest in seeing that as many women are born into the possibility of similar opportunities tomorrow? Is the feminist revolution such a fragile thing that it requires outright population decline to fulfill its goals, and is female advancement really incompatible with the goal of a modestly above-replacement birthrate?
---
And what Yglesias calls nuttiness still looks like moral common sense to me — a view of intergenerational obligation that human flourishing depends on, and whose disappearance threatens to sacrifice essential goods and relationships on the altar of more transient forms of satisfaction.

Mollie Hemingway ways in Admit It: We're a Decadent People

How denigrating the practice of childrearing is viewed as a feminist triumph is beyond me.

But why can't we admit that our lack of childbearing is due to luxurious self-indulgence? Seems to me that even for those who support our current self-centered way of life, this is viewed as a feature rather than a bug of our birth control culture. Why do we have to pretend otherwise?

Megan McArdle has this to say about Our Demographic Decline

Our whole economy and social system are designed for a growing economy, and a growing population.  Without future growth, savings and investment become more necessary, but less attractive.  Without growth, people become less generous towards strangers and more unhappy about their own circumstances. And without the growth around which all of our modern welfare states have been structured, the modern safety nets that governments have spent the last century establishing may not be politically or economically sustainable. 

In a less decadent age, Darwin foreswore the self-indulgence we've come to take for granted.  The private life of Charles Darwin

In the notes – made in April and July 1938 when he was 29 years old – Darwin weighs the options, listing the positive and negative points for matrimony with a pragmatic and analytical detachment that doubtless served him well in his scientific inquiries. When choosing a soulmate though, Darwin's approach comes across as – how can I put it – a little less than romantic.

On the plus side of the ledger he cites "Children (if it Please God)" and companionship, "[an] object to be beloved and played with – better than a dog anyhow". He also approves of the health-giving benefits of the "charms of music & female chit-chat".

But he then turns to the many freedoms he worries he will miss out on – "Conversation of clever men at clubs"; "cannot read in the evenings"; "less money for books". There will also be the anxiety and responsibility of fatherhood, "fatness and idleness" and above all, "loss of time"……"How should I manage all my business if I were obliged to go every day walking with my wife.  Eheu!! I never should know French, – or see the Continent – or go to America, or go up in a Balloon, or take solitary trip in Wales – poor slave."

In the end, he decided he would be happier married.

"It is intolerable to think of spending one's whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all.  No, no won't do – Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London."

He later married and described his wedding day as "the day of days" 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:00 PM | Permalink

November 3, 2012

"We are ordinary people and our mission is a simple one"

Daniel Greenfield We Are Those Who Stand for the Day

We are ordinary people and our mission is a simple one. We are the preservers of the present. Our task is to stand against the destroyers, the dislocated in mind and body, drawing up their plans for mutant civilizations, their distorted visions of the past and future set in ideological dogmas, for the plain and simple things of the present. While they seek to take away our nations, our beliefs and our children away from us, we fight to preserve them and to keep our world with us.

We have no grand schemes or manifestos, no glorious visions of caliphates and socialist republics, our vision is of our homes and our stores, our families and our friends, the communities that we have built and the small things that we have done every day of our lives for the sake of all these things. These small things, the little uncounted freedoms and the self-chosen responsibilities are our manifestos, they are our battle cries and they are what we fight for. They are our world and we hold them now in the light of day against the destroyers who would bring against us the fall of night.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:32 PM | Permalink

October 15, 2012

Compare the Persecution of Christians elsewhere and the treatment of Muslims here

In just one month Muslim Persecution of Christians: August, 2012

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

Jihad Killings and Christian Displacement in Iraq, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria and Syria

Church Attacks in Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria and Syria

Punishment for Apostasy, Blasphemy and Proselytism In Egypt, Pakistan, Tanzania and Tunisia

General Abuse, Debasement and Suppression of Non-Muslims in Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia, Turkey, Uzbekistan

Here in the United States, another cause for shame. Muslims Offended--Soldier's Career Destroyed--Official Army Records Show Loss to Nation

During a Pentagon press conference on May 10, 2012, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly excoriated Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Matthew Dooley, a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a highly decorated combat veteran. His reason: The course on Islamic Radicalism which LTC Dooley was teaching at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) of the National Defense University was offensive to Muslims.

General Dempsey characterized LTC Dooley's course as "totally objectionable," and ordered all material offensive to Islam scrubbed from military professional education within the JFSC and elsewhere. But that's not all. LTC Dooley was fired from his instructor position and given an ordered negative Officer Evaluation Report (OER) -- the death-knell for a military career.

The actions against LTC Dooley follow a letter to the Department of Defense dated October 19, 2011 signed by 57 Muslim organizations demanding that all training materials offensive to Islam and Muslims be purged and the trainers disciplined.

Our state department sent Salam al-Marayati, founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), was picked to represent the United States government at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) annual 10-day human rights conference, a representative who is anti-Israel, a sympathizer with Hamas and Hezbollah and a 9/11 truther.

The ACLU is hard at work protecting terrorist funding and Sultan Knish  reports on the  Muslim Takeover of the ACLU.

The ACLU now counts at least eight Muslims on its national executive staff alone. In fact, a Muslim runs the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, while another heads its National Security Project.  The irony is not lost on Steve Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

“The ACLU was founded on the basis that there shouldn’t be any blasphemy laws,” said Emerson, who’s airing a new documentary, “Jihad in America: The Grand Deception.” “Yet in the last 10 years, they’ve appointed (to their boards) members of the Muslim Brotherhood who believe in blasphemy laws.”

One brave journalist tells the truth Lara Logan on "the Taliban Are Losing" and Other Lies the Administration Tells

“I chose this subject because, one, I can’t stand, that there is a major lie being propagated . . . The lie is that America’s military might has tamed the Taliban. There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!” She made a passionate case that our government is downplaying the strength of our enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a rationale of getting us out of the longest war. We have been lulled into believing that the perils are in the past: “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.” Our enemies are writing the story, she suggests, and there’s no happy ending for us.

Michael Coren on  The Tale of Two Religions

The West may hate Catholicism and be too intimidated or seduced to stand firm against Islamic extremism, but one day it will discover just how different those religions are, and feel the consequences in a manner it cannot even imagine.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 PM | Permalink

October 13, 2012

The Continuing Shame of Benghazi

Mark Steyn: 'Politicized' Benghazi distracts from Big Bird

"The entire reason that this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."

Thus, Stephanie Cutter, President Obama's deputy campaign manager, speaking on CNN about an armed attack on the 9/11 anniversary that left a U.S. consulate a smoking ruin and killed four diplomatic staff, including the first American ambassador to be murdered in a third of a century. To discuss this event is apparently to "politicize" it and to distract from the real issues the American people are concerned about. For example, Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki, speaking on board Air Force One on Thursday:

"There's only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane."
----
Instead, the State Department outsourced security for the Benghazi consulate to Blue Mountain, a Welsh firm that hires ex-British and Commonwealth Special Forces, among the toughest hombres on the planet. The company's very name comes from the poem "The Golden Journey To Samarkand," whose words famously adorn the regimental headquarters of Britain's Special Air Service in Hereford. Unfortunately, the one-year contract for consulate security was only $387,413 – or less than the cost of deploying a single U.S. soldier overseas. On that budget, you can't really afford to fly in a lot of crack SAS killing machines, and have to make do with the neighborhood talent pool. So who's available? Blue Mountain hired five members of the Benghazi branch of the February 17th Martyrs' Brigade and equipped them with handcuffs and batons. A baton is very useful when someone is firing an RPG at you, at least if you play a little baseball. There were supposed to be four men heavily armed with handcuffs on duty that night, but, the date of Sept. 11 having no particular significance in the Muslim world, only two guards were actually on shift.

Let's pause right there, and "politicize" a little more. Liberals are always going on about the evils of "outsourcing" and "offshoring" – selfish vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney shipping jobs to cheap labor overseas just to save a few bucks. How unpatriotic can you get! So now the United States government is outsourcing embassy security to cheap Welshmen who, in turn, outsource it to cheaper Libyans. Diplomatic facilities are U.S. sovereign territory – no different de jure from Fifth Avenue or Mount Rushmore. So defending them is one of the core responsibilities of the state. But that's the funny thing about Big Government: the bigger it gets, the more of life it swallows up, the worse it gets at those very few things it's supposed to be doing. So, on the first anniversary of 9/11 in a post-revolutionary city in which Western diplomats had been steadily targeted over the previous six months, the government of the supposedly most powerful nation on Earth entrusted its security to Abdulaziz Majbari, 29, and his pal, who report to some bloke back in Carmarthen, Wales.

 Steven Breen Cartooncartoon by Steve Breen

So why on 9/11 were Marines stationed at the Barbados embassy but not at Benghazi near an armed Al Qaeda cell?

At the vice-presidential debate,  Biden interrupted Ryan 85 times and told at least 10 outright lies including "Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security"
despite the fact that the day before, former regional security Eric Nordstrom described,  in open Congressional hearings, his frustration with having his requests for security turned down by the government bureaucracy and his unforgettable line,  "For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building."

Suddenly everyone's reading the Bible and Proverbs 29:9: " If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet"

And Clint Eastwood is looking like a prophet when he said this about Joe Biden, "Just a kind of a grin with a body behind it."

About the maker of that anti-Muslim film that nobody ever heard about before it was blamed for the Al Qaeda -planned uprisings around the globe on September 11,  Walid Shoebat. a former member of the Muslim Brotherfhood says it was made by Muslim terrorists and the man Nakoula Bacile Nakoula is not a Christian Copt but a fraudster with multiple identities  who embezzled millions of dollars with Shoebat's cousin Eiad Salame.

So it's no surprise that Ayman al-Zawahri,  the leader of Al-Qaida,  has urged Muslims to wage holy war against the United States and Israel over that film.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:59 PM | Permalink

October 3, 2012

UN Head: Free Speech a 'Gift'

Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson said yesterday in a press conference, Free Speech a 'Gift'

Free speech is a “gift given to us by the [Universal] Declaration of Human Rights,”  It is “a privilege,” Eliasson said, “that we have, which in my view involves also the need for respect, the need to avoid provocations.”
--
Eliasson’s boss Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said last month that using “freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs” was not worthy of protection. Rather, Ban Ki-moon indicated that such freedom only deserved protection when “used for common justice, common purpose.”
--

I agree completely with Mark Steyn, Behead All Those Who Insult Free Speech

Free speech is a gift given to us in 1948 by U.N. officials? Who knew?

The only appropriate response of free-born peoples to such a statement is: **** off, ******. Free speech is not in the gift of minor Swedish timeserving hack bureaucrats, either to grant or withdraw…… In the end, the one-way multiculturalism of craven squishes like Eliasson will destroy our world. Nuts to him and to the U.N.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:49 PM | Permalink

September 18, 2012

Are the new ideas of what a 'family' is good for society?

Harvard professor categorizes families across time and culture into three types    Family Impact on Society

Scott Hahn in his book “First Comes Love” cites the monumental work of Harvard University Professor, Carle C. Zimmerman’s entitled “Family and Civilization” …..  Zimmerman studied families in different societies throughout history.  He classified families in these societies into three categories:  the trustee family, the domestic family, and the atomistic family.
The trustee family includes the ancestors, the present living family members, and progeny, yet to be born, as members of the family.  This type of family is called “trustee family” because the living members are the trustees of all that belongs to the family:  its values, its religious beliefs, its rights, its blood, its name, and its property.  The duty of the present members is to preserve, protect, and pass on to future generations all that they consider as properly belonging to the family.  The trustee family sees itself in religious terms, and considers itself united by a sacred bond to its ancestors as well as to its future descendants who will perpetuate the family name, honor, and worship. The trustee family considers children to be a divine blessing; a father is treated with great respect as a patriarch who serves the ancestors as well as the offspring.  In the trustee family sexual immorality is considered a crime.  Marriage is a covenant.

The domestic family limits its members to the living, the children of a father and a mother united as husband and wife by a marital bond.  The family members have individual rights, but also family duties. Children are considered as indispensable economic agents.  The father is seen as the chief executive of the family.  Sexual immorality is considered an individual sin, and the marriage bond is a contract.

The atomistic family emphasizes individual rights above family duties.  The offspring consider the household as a place from which to escape.  Children are considered a liability and an obstacle to personal fulfillment.  The father is viewed as a pathetic figure that must be left behind, in order for an individual to grow.  Sexual immorality is considered a private matter, an alternative life style.  A society in which the atomistic family model predominates has a high rated of divorce, negative population growth, and pervasive sexual immorality.  Marriage is seen as a convenient means of companionship.

The most significant finding of Zimmerman’s studies is that societies that embrace the trustee family model are societies that rise to the level of civilizations.  Whereas societies based on the atomistic family model are societies on the verge of ultimate decline.

No civilization is eternal.  Over time the concept of family degenerates from the trustee family model to the atomistic family model before the total collapse of that civilization.

We are seeing today an all-out assault on the traditional meaning of families.  One example from the headlines:  California's proposed three parent family law .  Jennifer Roback Morse writes that it was inevitable.

Can a child have three parents? If California State Senator Mark Leno has his way, children in California will be able to have three legal parents. Before we dismiss SB 1476 as another example of California Weird, we had best look into it more closely.
--
I believe this development was inevitable, more inevitable in fact than the much-vaunted inevitability of gay marriage. Once we started trying to normalize parenting by same-sex couples and redefine marriage to remove the dual-gender requirement, we had to end up with triple-parenting.
--
We are replacing the natural pre-political concept of biological parenthood with an artificial, government-created concept of parenthood that is entirely socially constructed. Instead of the government simply recognizing and recording the pre-political reality of biological parenthood, we are giving agents of the state the authority to construct parenthood.
--
The solution is to amend the law to remove the possibility of a person unrelated to the child, either by biology or adoption, being counted as a parent. The solution is to stop requiring a gender-neutral reading of a statute that is based on the biological, gendered facts of human reproduction.

Brazil's three-way 'marriage' ignites uproar.  A legal notary gave her stamp of approval to a civil union between a man and a woman and another woman.

Domingues believes that the couple represents a new idea of what “family” is and how the definition of what a family is has changed over the years.

The BBC quotes Domingues saying, “What we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we would consider a family today.  We are only recognizing what has always existed,” she added. “We are not inventing anything."

While polygamy is illegal in Brazil, this is classified as a "civil union" not a marriage.

A lawyer who helped draft the civil union document says the women and their man merely wanted to make it official, to protect all of their rights if they split up, and to make it easier to divide pensions, health benefits, and personal property if one or another (or another) dies.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 PM | Permalink

September 11, 2012

September 11 now long ago and far away

 911 From Space

Even from space, this view of 9/11 cries out

Station Commander Frank Culbertson…wrote in his diary…"It's horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are."

The Miracle of Human Goodness

The following account, written by a nameless flight attendant in the wake of 9/11 and released into cyberspace like a note in a bottle thrown into the sea, is just one of such rays of sunshine, an uplifting and heartwarming story that restores, if only for a while, one's belief in mankind.
--
Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75-kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up. ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the "guests." Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes. A young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration. Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.

Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.  Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools.  People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered great meals.  Everyone was given tokens for local laundromats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.  In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.  The generous hosts also tried their best to entertain the stranded passengers, offering them all kinds of excursions.  Some guests were taken on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors.  Some went for hikes in the forests.  Finally, when U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late.  The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane each needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving.

Read to the very end.

 Tribute-In-Light

The Problem with Moving On From 9/11

Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the crime, is dead, as President Obama and his supporters constantly remind us and for that we are thankful. But Al Qaeda is far from destroyed. The Islamist terrorist war against the West is not over and those who act as if it is are doing the country a disservice.


Americans are, we are constantly told, weary of the wars that followed 9/11 and it is hard to blame them for that. The United States has left Iraq and the mess that our exit is causing may undo the victory that President Bush’s surge made possible. We are soon to leave Afghanistan, a decision that may eventually lead to power for Al Qaeda’s Taliban allies. Throughout the Middle East, terrorists loosely affiliated with Al Qaeda persist. So do others that call themselves by different names. In Gaza, the Islamists of Hamas have created an independent terrorist state in all but name. In Lebanon, the Islamists of Hezbollah now dominate the government. In Iran, an Islamist state funds terror throughout the region and works to build a nuclear bomb as the West pursues ineffectual measures to stop them.

It is true that more than a decade of hard work by American intelligence services has prevented another 9/11. Given that most experts thought a second tragedy was almost inevitable, this is no small achievement. But the problem with this battle is that it needs more than constant vigilance from those tasked with protecting the country. It also requires the sort of patience that the citizens of democracies rarely possess.

NBC’s ‘Today’ Skips 9/11 Moment Of Silence For Kardashian Interview

The cable networks all carried it, with ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning” carrying it as well. The only national general news program to not carry the moment of silence was NBC’s ‘Today,” which, in an odd bit of counter-programming, opted to air an interview with “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star Kris Jenner, who talked about the new season of the reality show, and her breast implants.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:07 PM | Permalink

August 3, 2012

"The so-called 'Welfare State' is less a means of combating poverty than institutionalizing it...This is an irrefutable lesson of history"

Roger Kimball on Despotism, Distraction and the Defense of Civilization

The so-called “Welfare State,” for example is less a means of combating poverty than institutionalizing it. You don’t hear that from our politicians. But that is the irrefutable lesson of history.
--
That is to say, the battle for freedom and against the encroachments of servitude is never over. Every generation must fight it again, indeed, every individual must always be vigilant about keeping freedom alive in his own heart. That is the great Burkean point I try to make in The Fortunes of Permanence. Civilization is an achievement not a gift; it is always besieged, must constantly be defended, and once lost, is immeasurably difficult to reclaim. We see the results of the assaults against freedom all around us.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:53 AM | Permalink

July 31, 2012

Confirm thy soul in self control

Anthony Dalrymple on Diluting Self-Restraint

First there has been a profound cultural shift in the direction of the abandonment of self-control as a virtue. Thanks to the cultural revolution of the 50s and 60s (of which I am a product), people have fewer self-patrolled boundaries than they once would have had. Managers who once would have felt ashamed to deprive shareholders of their funds no longer do so. One sees this loss of self-control in all walks of life. In the public sector, for example, in which I have spent much of my adult life, the public purse is now shamelessly looted by those who work in it in a way that was inconceivable when I started my career (inefficiency is another question entirely). I could give many other examples, from obesity to gambling to drug-taking and binge-drinking.

Paul Kengor , "Confirm thy soul in self-control"

George Washington, knew the necessity of governing one’s self before a nation’s people were capable of self-governance. As Washington stated in his classic Farewell Address, “’Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”
--
A forgotten philosopher who had an important influence on the American Founders was the Frenchman, Charles Montesquieu, whose work included the seminal book, The Spirit of the Laws (1748). Montesquieu considered various forms of government. In a tyrannical system, people are prompted not by freedom of choice or any expression of public virtue but, instead, by the sheer coercive power of the state, whether by decree of an individual despot or an unaccountable rogue regime. That’s no way for human beings to live. There’s life under such a system, yes, but not much liberty or pursuit of happiness; even life itself is threatened.

Montesquieu concluded that the best form of government is a self-governing one, and yet it is also the most difficult to maintain because it demands a virtuous populace. As noted by John Howard—the outstanding senior fellow at the Howard Center for Family, Religion, & Society—Montesquieu noted that each citizen in a self-governing state must voluntarily abide by certain essential standards of conduct: lawfulness, truthfulness, honesty, fairness, respect for the rights and well-being of others, obligation to one’s spouse and children, to name a few.
--
Sadly, becoming virtuous has indeed become a monstrous chore in a society not only lacking virtue but eschewing virtue—fleeing virtue like a vampire fleeing a cross. Living life in a good way—what Benedict Groeschel calls The Virtue Driven Life—becomes so alien that the people prefer darkness over light. When virtues are not taught—whether at home, at school, or by America’s educator-in-chief, the TV set—they become unknown and ignored and unfulfilled, desiccated and dead upon the national landscape.

And perhaps saddest of all, as John Howard notes, virtue is something that can be acquired, like learning to speak a culture’s language. Once inculcated, however, it needs to be continuously reinforced by the cultural elements of the society. Virtue needs nourished, like fruitful plants need water and sunlight. Says Howard emphatically: “I want to repeat…. Virtue must be continuously reinforced by the culture.”
--
Consider this line from one of our sacred political hymns, America, the Beautiful:

America, America,
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

That’s the ticket: Confirm thy soul in self-control. Our liberty is enshrined in our laws, but liberty should not be license for opportunities for the flesh. Our liberties, protected and permitted as they are, should not be exploited to do anything and everything we want, including things harmful to oneself, to one’s family, to one’s neighbors, to one’s culture, to one’s country. That misunderstanding and abuse of freedom is what Pope Benedict XVI calls a “confused ideology of freedom,” one that can engender “the self-destruction of freedom” for others.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2012

America's Cultural Revolution

I was educated in the 60s before the "Cultural Revolutions" so I remember the way we were.  Gelernter is harsh but right.

Dismantling of a Culture

DAVID GELERNTER: The Cultural Revolution itself began right after World War II (when our leading colleges were still in the hands of the generally centrist WASP elite) and culminated around 1970, when intellectuals were in control, and preparing to use these universities as platforms for imposing their worldview throughout the schools’ establishment and cultural elite.

So America went lite starting around 1970. The big change was complete by the 1980s: In ’83, “A Nation at Risk” described the mediocrity of our schools; in ’87, Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind described the intellectual corruption of our universities. Both times, these disasters had (of course) already happened. And Bill Bennett, secretary of education under Reagan from ’85 to ’88, repeatedly drew the nation’s attention to this cultural disaster.
--
LOPEZ: Is it a bit dramatic to call what’s happened here an actual “cultural revolution”? Was there blood? Mandates?

GELERNTER: American culture had its throat slit and bled to death at our feet. Isn’t that revolutionary enough? The blood is only metaphorical, but to the 40 percent of [all] infants [who are] born to single mothers this year, the consequences will be real.

In a piddling few decades, the world’s most powerful, influential cultural establishment happened to get demolished and rebuilt from the ground up. What had been basically a Christian, patriotic, family-loving, politically moderate part of society became contemptuous of biblical religion, of patriotism, of the family, of American greatness. The American cultural elite used to resemble (more or less) the rest of America. Today it disdains the rest of America. That’s a revolution.
--

LOPEZ: You write that we are “facing a terrible problem with a fairly simple solution. But the problem must be solved soon, or we lose a crucial advantage. There are still plenty of people around who were educated before the cultural revolution and remember the way we were: our schools, colleges, the press and the civilized world generally striving — with partial success at best, but fine persistence — to tell the truth. Principled conservatives and liberals remember it all fondly. They don’t want to go back in time. They don’t want to restore an old world; they want to build a new one that we can be as proud of as William DeVane was proud of America in 1957. We want a country whose national leaders are known for ‘integrity, idealism and skill’; where our college teachers are ‘learned and devoted’; where America herself is ‘the wonder and envy of other nations.’” You add: “In short, we want to go back to telling the truth.” But whose truth, Professor?

GELERNTER: Everyone’s truth. Mankind’s. Truth transcends time, place, and cultural tastes. This is a revealing, sad question for what it says about the pervasiveness of deconstruction, post-structuralism, and other games we play with the truth, all so much easier and more fun than actually finding the truth. Who does Leviticus 19 belong to, or the Ten Commandments? To mankind, and they are true for all mankind. A whole generation has been taught that truth is just a matter of taste. This is false.

Sure, we disagree about evidence. Sometimes we ask the wrong questions. We might be the jury at a murder trial, with twelve different opinions among us and no sure way of knowing who is right. But one thing we do know for sure: The truth exists, whether we can find it or not.
--
GELERNTER: This was and remains a religious country. There is nothing hypothetical (barring some unthinkable catastrophe) about the survival and success of Judaism and Christianity in America. Many left-wing religious brands are out of business or flailing helplessly as they take on water, but up-to-date religion never did make sense, because religion is our lifeline and a sort of love letter to our families, our ancestors, and our better selves.

David Brooks struck a similar note when he wrote Why Our Elites Stink

Over the past half–century, a more diverse and meritocratic elite has replaced the Protestant Establishment. People are more likely to rise on the basis of grades, test scores, effort and performance.

Yet, as this meritocratic elite has taken over institutions, trust in them has plummeted. It’s not even clear that the brainy elite is doing a better job of running them than the old boys’ network. Would we say that Wall Street is working better now than it did 60 years ago? Or government? The system is more just, but the outcomes are mixed. The meritocracy has not fulfilled its promise.
--

The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.

Today’s elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous). Wall Street firms, for example, now hire on the basis of youth and brains, not experience and character. Most of their problems can be traced to this.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

April 27, 2012

Obamacare and Pope Leo XIII, the handwriting on the wall

Recommended by the Scrapbook. here are a couple of very good articles to read over the weekend

The most intelligent article I've read about How to Replace Obamacare by James Capretta and Robert Moffit in National Affairs .

The Handwriting on the Wall by George Weigel

the words on the wall at this moment in history speak of the results of a negation — a deconstruction — of the deep truths on which the civilization of the West has been built. And one of the main things that the "handwriting on the wall" in the early 21st century is telling us is that the secular project is over.

By "secular project," I mean the effort, extending over the past two centuries or more, to erect an empty shrine at the heart of political modernity.
--
In both its hard and soft forms, the secular project was wrong. Above all, it ignored the deep truth that it takes a certain kind of people, living certain virtues, to make democracy and the free economy work properly. People of that kind do not just happen. They must be formed in the habits of heart and mind, the virtues that enable them to guide the machinery of free politics and free economics so that the net outcome is human flourishing and the promotion of the common good. There is no such formation in the virtues of freedom available at the empty shrine.

A glimpse of what the empty shrine does produce was on offer late last summer in Great Britain, when packs of feral young people rampaged through city after city in an orgy of self-indulgence, theft, and destruction. The truth of what all that was about was most powerfully articulated by Lord Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

This was the bursting of a dam of potential trouble that had been building for years. The collapse of families and communities leaves in its wake unsocialized young people…[who are the products of] a tsunami of wishful thinking that washed across the West, saying that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage, children without the responsibility of parenthood, social order without the responsibility of citizenship, liberty without the responsibility of morality, and self-esteem without the responsibility of work and earned achievement.
--
That false worship of the Self — the worship of that which is not worthy of worship — has led to a severe attenuation of the moral sinews of democratic culture: the commitment to reason and truth-telling in debate; the courage to face hard facts squarely; the willingness to concede that others may have something to teach us; the ability to distinguish between prudent compromise and the abandonment of principle; the very idea of the common good, which may demand personal sacrifice.
---
Taking a cue from that great philosophical celebrant of irony, Richard Rorty, Colgate University's Robert Kraynak has neatly described the net result of all this as "freeloading atheism": Like Belshazzar's lords, wives, and concubines, those formed by the empty shrine and the worship of the imperial, autonomous Self have been drinking profligately out of sacred vessels, freeloading on moral truths that they do not acknowledge (and in many cases hold in contempt), but which are essential for sustaining democracy and the free economy, which the freeloaders claim to honor. But as Lord Sacks pointed out last summer, that jig is up.
--
What I have called the "empty shrine" at the center of political modernity was, for Leo XIII, the result of a dramatic revolution in European intellectual life in which metaphysics had been displaced from the center of reflection, thinking-about-thinking had replaced thinking-about-truth, and governance had therefore come unstuck from the first principles of justice. Science, which had replaced metaphysics as the most consequential of intellectual disciplines, could provide no answer to the moral question with which all politics, in the Western tradition, begins: How ought we to live together? Worse, when science stepped outside its disciplinary boundaries and tried its hand at social and political prescription, it let loose new demons, such as Social Darwinism, that would prove astonishingly lethal when they shaped the national tempers that made possible the great slaughters of the First World War.
--
Leo XIII insisted that freedom is not sheer willfulness. Rather, as Leo's successor John Paul II would later put it, freedom is the human capacity to know what is truly good, to choose it freely, and to do so as a matter of habit, or virtue. According to this line of argument, a talent for freedom grows in us; we cut short that learning process if we insist, with the culture of the imperial autonomous Self, that my freedom consists in doing what I want to do, now.
---
"The handwriting on the wall" at this moment in history is telling us that a political culture detached from the deep truths embedded in the human condition eventually yields traits of selfishness and irresponsibility that ill befit citizens of a democracy. "The handwriting on the wall" is telling us that a democratic politics that ignores those deep truths eventually dissolves into thinly disguised dictatorship — the dictatorship of relativism. And if that is the message, then our duty comes into clearer focus, too.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:27 PM | Permalink

April 16, 2012

"I don't know what is awaiting me" says Pope Benedict on his 85th birthday

Happy Birthday Holy Father.  Benedict on his 85th Birthday

Earlier in the day, in an impromptu homily, the Pope had said: “I find myself on the last stretch of my journey in life, and I don’t know what is awaiting me.”

“I know, however, that the light of God exists, that he is risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness and that God’s goodness is stronger than any evil in this world, and this helps me go forward with certainty,” he said.

 B16 At 85
10 Bavarian children dance the skirt-swirling, shoe-stomping, thigh-slapping 'Schuhplattler' before the Pope

Michael Cook at MercatorNet.  Benedict XVI's analysis of the crisis of Western culture is outstanding in its depth and clarity.

Although insiders say that Benedict is slowing down, he lives at a pace which would kill younger men: a relentless succession of trips in Italy, trips overseas, daily speeches, a multitude of official visitors and the constant pressure of global attention.

And Joseph Ratzinger is still a one-man ideas factory. Since he was elected in 2005, he has written two books of his own as the theologian Joseph Ratzinger, has collaborated in a book-length interview, has written three encyclicals (more or less book-length theological position papers) and his collected addresses have been compiled into several books.
--
There is no denying that Western humanism is tottering. It was born in the cradle of religious belief and is grounded on the twin cornerstones of respect for reason and awe at the dignity of mankind. But – to telescope 200 years of cultural history into a few sentences – it is quavering in a crisis of self-confidence. Religion is shut up in a closet. The ambit of reason is restricted to only those things which can be touched and measured. And human dignity is being suffocated by technology.
--
Books have been and will be written about Benedict’s achievement. But I’m not risking anything by highlighting out the following themes.

If the ideal society is thoroughly secular, why is depression one of the leading causes of disability?
Even before he became Pope, Benedict has stressed that Christianity offers a coherent answer to our search for happiness.

Joy as the secret weapon of Christianity is a theme to which he returns again and again. "Faith gives joy. When God is not there, the world becomes desolate, and everything becomes boring, and everything is completely unsatisfactory,”
--
If atheism is a sign of progress, why have we trashed the environment? Few people have noticed, but ecology is a recurrent theme in Benedict’s writing. This stems not from a vague pantheism or nostalgic conservatism, but from the Biblical conviction that man is the steward of creation. A desolate environment mirrors interior desolation.
--
If science is so convincing, why is it so difficult to agree on fundamental issues?…Questioning moral relativism is fundamental to his program. He keeps reminding his listeners that if reason cannot deal with intangible issues like what is good and what is just, they will be defined by whoever is most powerful.
--

More at the link.

The Anchoress says Benedict is A Cloister Unto Himself.

Some people think the pope is a very complicated man, but really, he is very easy to get, because he is very open. He is not a politician; he is not a diplomat; he is simply a man who is humbly all-for-God, who lives his faith so completely that there are no shadows. His words are words of Be-ing, primarily.
---
Even before he was Benedict, back when he was Joseph Ratzinger, I loved his humility; he has always struck me as the shy old uncle who — once drawn out — keeps you enthralled with the openness, depth and breadth of his intellect, which is never pedantic, and always accessible.
--
His pontificate, which some thought would be “transitional” may very well end up being transformational.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:30 PM | Permalink

April 13, 2012

"The age we mark as modernity began with grand, exhilarating gestures'

Jason Jones, Of Human Dignity and Shoes

The age we mark as modernity began with grand, exhilarating gestures: discourses on method that would set us free from the dead hand of tradition (Descartes); declarations of the rights of man (the French Revolutionary Assembly); manifestos rejecting the tyranny of mere economic laws over the lives and labor of men (Karl Marx). The grand progression of the movement Henri de Lubac dubbed “heroic humanism” was full of such golden moments, which moved through the dark night of history like torches leading us forward, ever forward, to a glittering future that would make life at long last worthy of man. At the end of all the struggles, after the next (surely final!) conflict, or the next, we were promised without any irony a brave new world, an earthly paradise.
--
And we did. That’s what we spent the 19th and 20th centuries doing, energetically. We broke up historic empires into nation-states, where men forgot their loyalty to tiny village or global Church, and learned to think as members of ethnic tribes or aggrieved social classes. After these collectives had done their work, and proved themselves too dangerous (in 1945, and 1989, respectively) we set about smashing them, too. We broke down the ramshackle, inefficient structure of the old extended family to its minimal, nuclear core—and then when that didn’t prove as economically useful, we split that into atoms. When we learned that families have no economic use or political import, we redefined them at last as consensual, temporary alliances of adults—to whom the State contracts the duty of caring for children overnight, in the hours when schools and daycare facilities aren’t open. We have very thoroughly accomplished the job modernity’s founders set us: liquidating every barrier to the assertion of the Self, short of the laws of physics. We have killed all the fathers. We are free to make of ourselves exactly what we will, no less and no more. And here we sit with the treasure we’ve won: this pile of shoes.
--
The only support, it turned out, for having a high opinion of other people’s lives (our own are sacred by definition) lay not in the shiny new laboratories or libraries we were building, but in the drafty, candlelit houses of worship we had to bulldoze to make room.
--
The old sacred books that old men quoted to thwart the free play of our desires, which we piled in bonfires or smirked at as curiosities, were more important than we realized. They held crucial information, the shibboleths needed to make men treat each other a certain way—a way we had come to take for granted. That way of treating people—respecting the weak, sacrificing for the young, venerating the old—emerged in human history as the side-effects of specific assertions about the world. We didn’t want to believe this.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:26 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2012

The modern university teaches that there is no truth, only "lifestyle."

Western Survival Depends on Western Pride writes David Rusin

Due to “post-modernism, moral relativism, and multiculturalism, the West has lost all self-confidence in its own values, and seems incapable and unwilling to defend those values,” argues Ibn Warraq, author of Why the West Is Best. “By contrast, resurgent Islam, in all its forms, is supremely confident, and is able to exploit the West’s moral weakness and cultural confusion to demand ever more concessions from her.”

Warraq declares that if their system is to endure, Westerners must acknowledge that “the great ideas of the West — rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy — are superior to any others devised by humankind.” Likewise, it is critical to compare Western ideals to those of the Islamists, which are antithetical to liberty and increasingly threaten it. A glance at how women and minorities are treated by strict Islamic law is sufficient to expose multiculturalism’s “lie that all cultures are worthy of equal respect and equally embracing of individual freedom and democracy,” to quote reformist Muslim Salim Mansur.

Astonishing isn't it, that people who point this out are often vilified and politicians who do so are raked over the coals for daring to declare the superiority of Western culture.

This decline in Western confidence was apparent 25 years ago when Alan Bloom first wrote, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students.    It was a book that drove them crazy

The crisis was​–is​–​a crisis of confidence in the principle that serves as the premise of liberal education: that reason, informed by learning and experience, can arrive at truth, and that one truth may be truer than another.
--
He asked readers to consider contemporary students as he encountered them. They arrived ill-equipped to explore the large questions the humanities pose, and few saw the need to bother with them in any case. Instead, he said, they were cheerful, unconcerned, dutiful, and prosaic, their eyes on the prize of that cushy job. They were “nice.” You can almost see him shudder as he writes the word. “They are united only in their relativism,” he wrote. “The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate.”

Relativism, in fact, was the only moral postulate that went unchallenged in academic life.
---
a professor at Carleton College, Michael Zuckert, told of canvassing the students in his class on American political thought. He asked whether they agreed that the truths in the first lines of the Declaration of Independence were indeed “self-evident.” Seven percent voted “yes.” On further conversation, he wrote, it turned out “that they were convinced there is no such thing as ‘truth,’ self-evident or otherwise, in the sphere of claims of the sort raised in the Declaration.”

An admirer of the book writes

The goal of Bloom’s book was to show how Americans of all political persuasions, social backgrounds and economic conditions are debating within a narrow modern world-view and have simply accepted as fact a mushy blend of modern theory that repeatedly contradicts itself and stands in sharp contrast to an almost entirely forgotten world of opposing thought: that of the ancients.
--
Where the purpose of higher education once was to enable the student to find truth, the modern university teaches that there is no truth, only "lifestyle."
--
Bloom simply wanted to make students think, to make them understand that there are different ideas of what man is and that they must confront these ideas if they wish to lead a meaningful life.

Andrew Ferguson writes another appreciation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink

The Nationalization of the Family

"The West has nationalised families over the last 60 years.  Old age, ill health, single motherhood — everything is the responsibility of the state."

Professor R. Vaidyanathan, Indian Institute of Management, as quoted by Mark Steyn.

The nationalized family is the key to understanding why the West's economic "downturn" is not merely cyclical. Like any other nationalized industry, the nationalized family prioritizes more and more perks for its beneficiaries, is unresponsive to market pressure, and revels in declining productivity. Literally: The biggest structural defect in the Western world is its deathbed demography, the upside-down family tree. When 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren (as in Greece), it is a societal challenge under any circumstances. When 42 grandchildren have to pay off the massive debts run up by 100 grandparents, that's pretty much a guarantee of disaster
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2012

Greece's depression twice as deep as Britain's in the thirties

I have been transfixed at what is going in Greece, but I never realized how bad it was until I read The callous cruelty of the EU is destroying Greece, a once-proud country.

For all of my adult life, support for the European Union has been seen as the mark of a civilised, reasonable and above all compassionate politician....the British establishment has tended to view the EU as perhaps a little incompetent and corrupt, but certainly benign and generally a force for good in a troubled world. This attitude is becoming harder and harder to sustain, as this partnership of nations is suddenly starting to look very nasty indeed: a brutal oppressor that is scornful of democracy, national identity and the livelihoods of ordinary people.

The turning point may have come this week with the latest intervention by Brussels: bureaucrats are threatening to bankrupt an entire country unless opposition parties promise to support the EU-backed austerity plan.

Let’s put the Greek problem in its proper perspective. Britain’s Great Depression in the Thirties has become part of our national myth. It was the era of soup kitchens, mass unemployment and the Jarrow March...Yet the fall in national output during the Depression – from peak to trough – was never more than 10 per cent. In Greece, gross domestic product is already down about 13 per cent since 2008, and according to experts is likely to fall a further 7 per cent by the end of this year. In other words, by this Christmas, Greece’s depression will have been twice as deep as the infamous economic catastrophe that struck Britain 80 years ago.

Yet all the evidence suggests that the European elite could not give a damn...
--
Perhaps 100,000 businesses have folded, and many more are collapsing. Suicides are sharply up, homicides have reportedly doubled, with tens of thousands being made homeless. Life in the rural areas, which are returning to barter, is bearable. In the towns it is harsh and for minorities – above all the Albanians, who have no rights and have long taken the jobs Greeks did not want – it is terrifying....

It is not just families that are suffering – Greek institutions are being torn to shreds. Unlike Britain amid the economic devastation of the Thirties, Greece cannot look back towards centuries of more or less stable parliamentary democracy. It is scarcely a generation since the country emerged from a military dictatorship and, with parts of the country now lawless, sinister forces are once again on the rise. Only last autumn, extremist parties accounted for about 30 per cent of the popular vote. Now the hard Left and hard Right stand at about 50 per cent and surging.

I'm with Daniel Hannan who writes Leaving the euro isn't a punishment; it's Greece's last chance for recovery.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 PM | Permalink

February 15, 2012

Greece on Fire, Athens "blackened with ashes and rage"

The implosion of the Greek economy is affecting everyone in Greece.  After lawmakers approved of harsh new austerity measures demanded by creditors, in exchange for money (130 billion euro) to keep the country afloat.

there were riots across the country.  Athens was burned leaving unprecedented damage.

Nearly a third of the targets were banks.

Rioters destroyed or seriously damaged 93 buildings45 buildings were burned in Athens, including nine national heritage buildings.

"Criminals targeted all that was best in the city of Athens, its neoclassical monuments," said Thanassis Davakis, the Conservatives' cultural policy chief. "The damage must be swiftly redressed and the city's memory restored."

The Chaos of Greece

Rioters torched shops and offices, with banks and foreign businesses the main targets. Pensioners wearing gas masks joined a blockade of Parliament and squared off against some 4,000 police officers. The city's best-known cinema was burned to the ground, along with nine other national-heritage sites.

This was Athens on Sunday night as the Greek Parliament voted for austerity measures that are their only ticket to a €130 billion bailout. Don't think these scenes can't—or won't—be repeated in other Western capitals.

Stunning Pictures of the Disaster Zone in Greece

 Burning Cinema Athens

The Attikon cinema burning

Nikos Konstandaras on What was Lost in the Fire

What is lost in the fire may be greater than that which we feared to lose. The neoclassical building that housed the Attikon cinema was one of the most beautiful in Athens, among the very few that reminded us of what our city could have become if we had respected its past, if we cared about its present and its future. Perhaps it was a fitting sacrifice – a symbol of our rush to destroy because we cannot create, an expression of our need to abandon memories and pass into the future, blackened with ashes and rage.

What is lost in the flames may be greater than the incomes that will be reduced, greater than percentages of wages and pensions, greater than deposits lost and hopes abandoned. What is at greatest risk is our identity, our civilization. If we cannot stay in the eurozone, if we find ourselves on Europe's edge, we will be defeated, humiliated and alone.

The Way Greeks Live Now

By many indicators, Greece is devolving into something unprecedented in modern Western experience. A quarter of all Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009, and half of all small businesses in the country say they are unable to meet payroll. The suicide rate increased by 40 percent in the first half of 2011. A barter economy has sprung up, as people try to work around a broken financial system. Nearly half the population under 25 is unemployed. Last September, organizers of a government-sponsored seminar on emigrating to Australia, an event that drew 42 people a year earlier, were overwhelmed when 12,000 people signed up. Greek bankers told me that people had taken about one-third of their money out of their accounts; many, it seems, were keeping what savings they had under their beds or buried in their backyards. One banker, part of whose job these days is persuading people to keep their money in the bank, said to me, “Who would trust a Greek bank?”

Misery in Athens New Poor' Grows from Greek Middle Class

The "new poor" includes Lambros Zacharatos, who navigates the streets of Athens with Leonidas Koutikas in the Klimaka van night after night. Until last year, Zacharatos worked as an interior designer, earning up to €4,000 ($5,300) in a good month. "All of the sudden, boom, the crisis was here and 90 percent of the commissions were gone," he says. Zacharatos and two others sleep in a room above the Klimaka offices. The bunkbeds and veneer cabinet are reminiscent of a youth hostel.

Zacharatos says things happened very quickly. He lost his job, had no money to pay for his apartment, and within a few months he was out on the street. "Never in my worst nightmares would I have imagined that I would one day become homeless," he says.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:16 AM | Permalink

February 9, 2012

Social media vs. Religion

In the Guardian, Alain de Botton: a life in writing. An atheist who appreciates religion.

Religions, he thinks, have the buttons and know how to use them. His book considers the Catholic mass, early Christianitiy's ritual of agape or love feasts, and Jewish Passover rituals to explore how religions encouraged us to overcome fear of strangers and create communities.

He then tentatively imagines a so-called "agape restaurant" where, instead of dining with like-minded friends, you would be invited to eat with strangers. It would be the antithesis of Facebook. "Social media has lots of benefits but compared to Christianity it tends to group people by interests. Religion puts you with people who have nothing in common except that you're human." It might be a welcome challenge, he suggests. "I think that's what we need at a societal level – hosts who are able to produce the benevolence, charity, curiosity and goodwill that are in all of us but we can't let out."
--
He thus suggests he and Oprah, unlike our philosophy departments, have a surer grasp on society's anxieties. "I once very politely raised the thought that one reason philosophy departments have been cut is the fault of philosophers. The answer always comes back: 'The point of philosophy is to ask questions, not to give answers.' I can't help but think 'No. It can't be!' Imagine if you applied that question to other areas – is the purpose of rocket science to ask questions about rockets?"

We need, he insists, answers to Oprah-like questions now more than ever. "We're quite adrift. Civilisation should be about the transmission of the best ideas and we don't seem to believe in transmission. We've no effective mechanism."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2012

When All Hell Let Loose

What happens when All Hell Let Loose?

Military historian Sir Max Hastings asks and answers the question

what happens when “almost everything which civilised people take for granted in time of peace [is] swept aside, above all the expectation of being protected from violence.”
---

The figures themselves almost overwhelm the reader: 60 million people died between 1939-45, both combatants and civilians, often in horrifying circumstances. Russia’s sacrifice of lives was immeasurably greater than all the other countries: 65 percent of the total.
---
He also shows the bungling and incompetence that are a characteristic of war and which often caused most casualties, commenting that in England “before peace came, accidents in the blackout killed more people than did the Luftwaffe.” The magnificent Churchillian rhetoric which Hastings rightly extols in his study of the wartime prime minister could not hide the fact that the British armed forces demonstrated continual “failures of will, leadership, equipment, tactics and training.” Where there was a will to win, as the author points out, it could not compete with the Russian or German brutal acceptance of the inevitability of huge
--
Interestingly, given the intellectual eminence of Germany, the author suggests that Britain’s claim to genuine success lay in the superiority of its application of science and technology.  The best civilian brains were mobilised in the war effort; the work of the boffins at Bletchley Park and the cracking of the German Enigma code were more effective in defeating the enemy than the campaigns in the field.
--
Yet as the author grimly reminds us, two million Russians also starved to death in territories controlled by their own governments; Stalin was as cynical about human life as was Hitler. His war aims, to grab as much territory in Eastern Europe as he could get away with, were equally selfish and at odds with human liberty.
--
He is dismissive of the German defence, “We did not know” when mass atrocities came to light after the War, concluding that it was “impossible” for most German civilians credibly to deny knowledge of the concentration camps or of the slave labour system. Again, referring to the Holocaust, he judges that it was “easy”, in one of the most highly educated societies in Europe, to find people willing to murder “those whom their rulers defined as state enemies, without employing duress.”

His book available at Amazon

'Unquestionably the best single-volume history of the war ever written’ The London Sunday Times

...an epic tale of human experience, from campaign to campaign, continent to continent.This magisterial book ranges across a vast canvas, from the Russian front, where more than 90% of all German soldiers who perished met their fate, to the agony of Poland amid the September 1939 Nazi invasion, and the 1943 Bengal famine, in which at least a million people died under British rule – and British neglect.

Via Tea at Trianon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 AM | Permalink

January 31, 2012

Sex-trafficking, witchcraft and torture in SCOTLAND

Sex trafficking victims reveal horror of witchcraft and torture being used to enslave women in Scotland

VICTIMS of human sex trafficking have told how they were enslaved by witchcraft, torture and death threats in modern-day Scotland.

The harrowing stories of ten women were compiled by campaigners investigating the world’s fastest growing organised crime. Nine came from Africa, one from South America.
--
The women tell their stories in research commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The main centres for sex trafficking are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Paisley, Stirling and Falkirk but it also touches small towns and villages
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:31 PM | Permalink

January 23, 2012

Denying the Holocaust in Our Midst

Based on facts and truth is  Michael Paulsen's cri de coeur, The Unbearable Wrongness of Roe

Today, thousands of people at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., are commemorating the thirty-ninth anniversary of a legal and moral monstrosity, Roe v. Wade, and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The two cases, in combination, created an essentially unqualified constitutional right of pregnant women to abortion—the right to kill their children, gestating in their wombs, up to the point of birth. After nearly four decades, Roe’s human death toll stands at nearly sixty million human lives, a total exceeding the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin’s purges, Pol Pot’s killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined. Over the past forty years, one-sixth of the American population has been killed by abortion. One in four African-Americans is killed before birth. Abortion is the leading cause of (unnatural) death in America.
--
Start with Roe’s radicalism, a radicalism that we may no longer grasp because it has become so familiar. Roe created a constitutional right to obtain or commit an abortion of a human life—that is, to terminate the life of a human embryo or fetus. It is important to be clear-sighted about this: abortion kills a living human embryo or fetus.
---
The right created by the Supreme Court in Roe is a constitutional right of some human beings to kill other human beings.
--
This brings us to Roe’s utter indefensibility as a matter of constitutional law. ... it has absolutely no basis in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution. No rule or principle of law fairly traceable to the text, discernible from its structure, or fairly derived from evidence of intention or historical understanding of an authoritative decision of the people, remotely supports the result reached in Roe. In terms of fair principles of constitutional interpretation, Roe is perhaps the least defensible major constitutional decision in the Supreme Court’s history.
--
Finally, there is Roe’s immorality—the abortion holocaust it unleashed—and the problem of our response to it. Roe is a radical decision and a legally indefensible one. But what really makes Roe unbearably wrong is its consequences. The result of Roe and Doe has been the legally authorized killing of nearly sixty million Americans since 1973. Roe v. Wade authorized unrestricted private violence against human life on an almost unimaginable scale, and did so, falsely, in the name of the Constitution.
--
Here is the problem, undressed: If human embryonic life is morally worthy of protection, we have permitted sixty million murders under our watch. Faced with this prospect, many of us—maybe even most—flee from the factsWe deny that the living human embryo is “truly” or “fully” human life, adopt a view that whether the embryo or fetus is human “depends,” or can be judged in degrees, on a sliding scale over the course of pregnancy; or we proclaim uncertainty about the facts of human biology; or we proclaim moral agnosticism about the propriety of “imposing our views on others”; or we throw up our hands and give up because moral opposition to an entrenched, pervasive social practice is not worth the effort, discomfort, and social costs. The one position not on the table—the one possibility too hard to look at—is that abortion is a grave moral wrong on a par with the greatest human moral atrocities of all time and that we passively, almost willingly, accept it as such.
--
The Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade should not be accepted as law, in any sense. It should be resisted by legislatures and it should be refused enforcement by executive officials because it is not the law. It should be resisted by all citizens, with all the resources at their disposal, and perhaps even with resources not (yet) at their disposal. Anything less is holocaust denial.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink

January 22, 2012

"Unconscionable" challenge to religious liberty

The Other Health-Care Mandate: Good Samaritan Turned Upside Down

From the outset, the administration sought to camouflage the mandate’s radical assault on conscience by inserting an exemption for “religious employers” who objected to paying for contraception and abortion. It is a pitifully small fig leaf, however.

An organization cannot qualify if it has a “non-religious” aim (such as caring for the sick or feeding the hungry), or if it hires or serves persons of different faiths. In other words, the administration has managed to legislate a grotesque inversion of the parable of the Good Samaritan: A religious group loses the protection of the law precisely because it reaches across boundaries to help the outsider.

Religious Liberty the Latest Target of Obamacare

The Obamacare regulation gives faith-based institutions, like Catholic universities and hospitals, the choice of violating the fundamental tenets of their faith by covering the federally mandated coverage in their employee health plans, or of dropping health insurance for their employees — in which case they would be fined for violating the employer mandate.

This is an outrage...

here is a war on religion from the Left, and it is very dangerous to the institutions that make our civil society function.

The Catholic Church historically has been a vital part of the safety net — providing aid for the poor, care for the sick, shelter and food for the homeless, and care for mothers in need, as a few examples.

The health-care law threatens to tear gaping holes in that safety net by forcing Catholic health plans to cover contraception, by denying funds to Catholic adoption agencies, and ultimately by forcing taxpayers — including Catholics — to fund abortion.

This is dangerous to the very fabric of our society. It’s a crucial reason why the whole health law, with its centralized control over health-care decisions, must not stand.

" A Foul Ball, By Any Standard" U.S. Bishops vow to fight this edict.

Unconscionable to force citizens to buy contraceptives against their will.

The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception – including controversial abortifacients – be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.

The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."

The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception – including controversial abortifacients – be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan

“Almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans… Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”

"...the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our conscience"

Beginning August 1, 2012 (less than eight months from today), the insurance premiums we pay, including the insurance premiums paid by Catholics for employees of churches and schools -- will be used to cover drugs and procedures that are in direct conflict with the teachings of our Church.

That's right. Our government will now force us to pay for insurance coverage for birth control, sterilization and even some abortion drugs.
---
Abortion-rights groups immediately applauded the decision.

"Birth control is not just basic health care for women, it is an economic concern," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "This common sense decision means that millions of women, who would otherwise pay $15 to $50 a month, will have access to affordable birth control, helping them save hundreds of dollars each year."
--

Was it for this that President Obama cut $500 billion from Medicare?  Why are contraceptives and abortifacients 'privileged' as opposed to every other drug, like statins for instance?

As you might recall, it was primarily orthodox Catholics and conservative Evangelicals who kept saying during the last presidential campaign that then-Sen. Obama's record revealed a man with an unswerving, ideological obsession with making access to contraceptives and abortion available to just about anyone, anytime, anywhere—and on the taxpayers' dime. Yet it is those very folks who are continually painted as the extremists and the rigid zealots, blinded by their religious faith. But, really, who are the extremists and zealots here? How much physical, familial, cultural, social, and spiritual damage must take place before the scales fall from the eyes of those who want a drug for every problem, an excuse for every sin, and the government's heavy hand at every turn in the road of life?

Just last week Pope Benedict XIV  spoke to the American bishops in Rome on their "ad-limina" visit about the alarming state of religious freedom in America.      What the bishops told him.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:58 AM | Permalink

January 20, 2012

More on women and children first

It's been most interesting to read what people have to say about Captain Francesco Schettino, dubbed 'Captain Coward' and 'Chicken of the Sea' as well as about those of his  crew and the men that elbowed aside women and children to get into the lifeboats.

What was surprising is how many commenters blamed feminists for holding men to an unjust double standard. Feminists have been saying for decades that they are just as tough as men, they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and don't need any protection.  Who can forget, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

I believe that The natural duty and responsibility of men is to protect life, especially women and children,  and if necessary give up their lives to do so.    Children have a long life ahead of them; women can create new life.  And that is why they are naturally given preference and rescued first.  More life is rescued if women and children are rescued first.

Whatever happened to women and children first?

It would now seem as though the accident was avoidable, and this makes it all the more horrifying for everyone who lived through what one crew-member called a 36-hour nightmare.

One of the features of the disaster that has provoked a great deal of  comment is the stream of reports from angry survivors of how, in the chaos, men refused to put women and  children first, and instead pushed themselves forward to escape; and how the Italian crew ignored passengers and reportedly shouldered their way past mothers and pregnant women to get into lifeboats.
--
When the Titanic went down in April 1912, the Captain’s orders were: ‘Women and children first!’
Although this legendary edict was never part of maritime law, it was adhered to so strictly on the Titanic that men were actually stopped from boarding lifeboats, many of which went to sea only three-quarters full.
There were only a few exceptions to the unvarying tales of heroism: three men in steerage who disobeyed the rule — Italians, coincidentally — were shot.

The chivalry was reflected in survival rates: 74 per cent of the women were saved; 52 per cent of the children; and just 20 per cent of the men.
--
As the father of three daughters, I do not, with a single fibre of my being, wish to go back to a time when women could not have the vote or get a university degree. Nor do I, surrounded by extremely strong-charactered and intelligent women in my family and among my friends, feel tempted to regard women as the frail sex.

But the fact remains that there is a longing among most men to protect women and children, and chivalry is simply a manifestation of that longing.  And whatever transpires about the reason for the Costa Concordia disaster, the disappearance of a chivalric code is a sorry reflection on society today.

Ed West says  Women and children first is the great marker of civilisation

Before the Victorian era it was normal for men to save themselves rather than to lay down their lives for a woman, a very un-Darwinian act of selflessness; in many cultures still men are given priority during famines. A system where women and children are given preference, in contrast, is one where physical strength gives way. For that reason "women and children first" remains one of the great markers of civilisation.

"Dud, Where's My Lifeboat'

A century ago this spring, as the Titanic entered its death throes and all its lifeboats had been launched, Capt. Edward Smith told his crew: “Men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Now it’s every man for himself.” One witness recalled seeing him, probably washed overboard, clutching a child in the water as the Titanic disappeared. A member of the crew always believed it was Captain Smith’s voice he heard from the water after the Titanic was gone, urging him and others on: “Good boys! Good lads!”

“Every man for himself” is a phrase associated with the deadly Costa Concordia disaster, but not as a last-minute expedient. It appears to have been the natural order of things.

Costa Concordia hero Roberto Bosio calls captain Francesco Schettino 'a disgraceful man'.

'Only a disgraceful man would have left all those passengers on board. It was the most horrible experience of my life. A tragedy, a heartache that I will carry with me forever.'

Off-duty Bosio, who captains the Concordia's sister ship the Serena, was only on board the ship by chance as he made his way back home to Savona, near Genoa. Bosio, who is engaged and lives in Ventimiglia on the French-Italian border, was in his cabin resting when disaster struck.

He helped dozens of woman and children into lifeboats, and is understood to have organised the entire rescue effort throughout the night.
--
'Don’t call me a hero. I just did my duty, the duty of a sea captain – actually the duty of a normal man.

'I and the others with me just did our duty. We looked each other in the eyes for a second and then we just got on with it.'

Seafarers outraged that Captain could Jump Ship

"It's a matter of honor that the master is the last to leave. Nothing less will do in this profession," said Jorgen Loren, captain of a passenger ferry operating between Sweden and Denmark and chairman of the Swedish Maritime Officer's Association.
--
Jim Staples, a captain for 20 years, who spoke Wednesday from a 1,000-foot (300-meter) cargo vessel he was captaining near New Orleans, said captains are duty-bound to stay with the ship until the situation is hopeless. When they bail early, everything falls apart.

"I'm totally embarrassed by what he did," he said of Schettino. "He's given the industry a bad name, he's made us all look bad. It's shameful."
--
A more recent example is Robert Royer, the captain of a fishing vessel that sank off Alaska in 2010. As water gushed into the ship and the three other crew members jumped overboard, Royer stayed in the wheelhouse to make a frantic mayday call and give the ship's position to the Coast Guard. The crew said that likely saved their lives, because the ship's emergency beacon didn't work.

On bravery, cowardice, moral evolution and the Costa Concordia

Why are humans cowardly and brave? What inspires suicidal courage or craven self-preservation? -- If Capt Schettino did flee the sinking ship, then he failed his duty as a captain and a leader, regardless of the evolutionary background of our species. But more interesting is that others – tens of millions of others throughout human history – have not; have risked (and lost) their own lives for other people. We often criticise human nature as brutish, selfish or ugly, but it's not – or not always. The callous logic of natural selection has made us brave, moral and loyal as well.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 AM | Permalink

January 19, 2012

The European Project like a 'massive, post-Tito Yugoslavia'

In short, the incontinent spending of many European governments, which awarded whole populations unearned benefits at the expense of generations to come, has—along with a megalomaniacal currency union—produced a crisis not merely economic but social, political, and even civilizational. The European Union that was supposed to put an end to war on the continent has resuscitated antagonisms that might end in bellicosity, if not in outright war. And the European Project stands revealed as what any sensible person could have seen it always was: something akin to the construction of a massive, post-Tito Yugoslavia.

Theodore Dalrymple, The European Crack-Up

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:08 PM | Permalink

December 30, 2011

Eucastrophe, An Explosion of Good

It's the sixth or seventh day of Christmas, so we're only halfway through Christmastide

Party On! It's Biblical

Postmodern man– and postmodern woman– doesn’t know how to give a good party. It’s up to us Catholics to reclaim this lost art and share it with the world.  Why? Because good parties are intrinsic to our Catholic faith.

Seven 2011 events that will change the Chuch's Story in America

the best example of the new Catholic excellence in media is Father Robert Barron’s Catholicism series. This DVD review of the beauty, truth and goodness of our faith is itself a model of beauty, truth and goodness. And it is not just a great achievement of its own. It is a sign that our talk of the New Evangelization is bearing real fruit.

A Christmas Meditation on how the Word Must Become Flesh in Us  by Msgr Charles Pope

True faith is “incarnational,” in that it takes on flesh in my very “body-person.” Remember, we human beings are not pure spirit, we are not intellect and will only, we are also flesh and blood. Therefore our faith cannot remain merely immaterial. What we most are, must be reflected in our bodies, in what we actually, physically do as well.

1
Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato


In Forbes, Christmas, Kurtosis, Fat Tails, Black Swans and Risk Management by Jerry Bowyer

Which brings us to Christmas. What is more barren than a virgin’s womb? (Perhaps only the tomb, but that is a topic for a column in April.) The late Christopher Hitchens quipped more than once that if civilization suddenly collapsed, would we really need to remind ourselves that Christ was born of a virgin?

The obvious implication is that the Christmas story (Fact? Myth?Both?)is useless for the rebuilding of civilization. That is a very odd observation from a man who prided himself on his knowledge of history, because, in fact, that is exactly what civilization did remind itself of after it collapsed. What Civilization?

Why Christopher Hitchens’ civilization and yours and mine: Western civilization.

When Rome fell and barbarian hordes raped and murdered their way across the dark ages, civilization was rebuilt on the Christmas story. Mary, a woman, was the Chris-bearer (in Greek, Christopheros) after whom Mr. Hitchens was named. She assented to that role willingly. If an all-powerful God does not rape, then neither should you. If God prized human life enough to bind himself to it through incarnation, then you, barbarian warrior, should not murder. If God comes as a child through a woman, then women and children are fully human, endowed with no less dignity than men.
--
Christmas is a good time for us to recognize that though the world generates catastrophes, but it also has been given what JRR Tolkien called eucastrophes. Eucatastrophes are sudden, unexpected, but perfectly logical-in-hindsight explosions of good. Tolkien coined the word first to describe the incarnation which Christians are currently celebrating.

What Literature Owes the Bible by Marilynne Robinson

Biblical allusions can suggest a degree of seriousness or significance their context in a modern fiction does not always support. This is no cause for alarm. Every fiction is a leap in the dark, and a failed grasp at seriousness is to be respected for what it attempts. In any case, these references demonstrate that in the culture there is a well of special meaning to be drawn upon that can make an obscure death a martyrdom and a gesture of forgiveness an act of grace. Whatever the state of belief of a writer or reader, such resonances have meaning that is more than ornamental, since they acknowledge complexity of experience of a kind that is the substance of fiction.

History shows contributions of Catholic Church to Western Civilization

modern historians of science freely acknowledge the church's contributions — both theoretical and material — to the Scientific Revolution. It was the church's worldview that insisted the universe was orderly and operated according to certain fixed laws. Only buoyed with that confidence would it have made sense to bother investigating the physical world in the first place, or even to develop the scientific method (which can work only in an orderly world). It's likewise a little tricky to claim the church has been an implacable foe of the sciences when so many priests were accomplished scientists.
--
The early church also institutionalized the care of widows, orphans, the sick and the poor in ways unseen in classical Greece or Rome. Even her harshest critics, from the fourth-century emperor Julian the Apostate all the way to Martin Luther and Voltaire, conceded the church's enormous contributions to the relief of human misery.

The spirit of Catholic charity — that we help those in need not out of any expectation of reciprocity, but as a pure gift, and that we even help those who might not like us — finds no analogue in classical Greece and Rome, but it is this idea of charity that we continue to embrace today.

The university was an utterly new phenomenon in European history. Nothing like it had existed in ancient Greece or Rome. The institution that we recognize today, with its faculties, courses of study, examinations and degrees, as well as the familiar distinction between undergraduate and graduate study, come to us directly from the medieval world.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:48 PM | Permalink

December 13, 2011

"Has Europe Lost its Soul?"

In London, a magnificent speech well worth reading in its entirety,  Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks asks, "Has Europe Lost its Soul?"

For the task ahead of us is not between Jews and Catholics, or even Jews and Christians in general, but between Jews and Christians on the one hand, and the increasingly, even aggressively secularising forces at work in Europe today on the other, challenging and even ridiculing our faith.

If Europe loses the Judaeo-Christian heritage that gave it its historic identity and its greatest achievements in literature, art, music, education, politics, and as we will see, economics, it will lose its identity and its greatness, not immediately, but before this century reaches its end.

When a civilisation loses its faith, it loses its future. When it recovers its faith, it recovers its future. For the sake of our children, and their children not yet born, we – Jews and Christians, side-by-side – must renew our faith and its prophetic voice. We must help Europe recover its soul.

 Jonathan Sacks Eu

He then cites a quote, I've repeated often in various blog posts.

the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences was given the task of discovering how the West, having lagged behind China for centuries, eventually overtook it and established itself in a position of world pre-eminence. At first, said the scholar, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we concluded it was because you had the best political system. Then we realised it was your economic system. "But in the past 20 years, we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don't have any doubt about this.”

What happens when a trust economy turns into a risk economy.

George Soros writes of how in his early years as an investment manager he had to spend immense time and energy proving his credentials, his character and integrity, before people would do business with him. Nowadays, he says, deals are transactional rather than personal. Instead of placing your faith in a person, you get lawyers to write safeguards into the contract. This is an historic shift from a trust economy to a risk economy. But trust is not a dispensable luxury. It is the very basis of our social life. Many scholars believe that capitalism had religious roots because people could trust other people who, feeling that they were answerable to God, could be relied on to be honest in business. A world without trust is a lonely and dangerous place.

It was precisely the breakdown of trust that caused the banking crisis in the first place. We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that the market is a shrine to materialism, forgetting that its keywords are deeply spiritual. “Credit” comes from the Latin “credo” meaning “I believe.” “Confidence” comes from the Latin meaning “shared faith.” “Trust” is a word that has deeply religious resonance. Try running a bank, a business or an economy in the absence of confidence and trust and you will know it can’t be done. In the end we do not put our faith in systems but in the people responsible for those systems, and without morality, responsibility, transparency, accountability, honesty and integrity, the system will fail. And as it happens, the system did fail.

What lasts.

Economic superpowers have a short shelf-life: Spain in the fifteenth century, Venice in the sixteenth, Holland in the seventeenth, France in the eighteenth, Britain in the nineteenth, America in the twentieth. Meanwhile Christianity has survived for two thousand years, and Judaism for twice as long as that. The Judeo-Christian heritage is the only system known to me capable of defeating the law of entropy that says all systems lose energy over time.

Stabilising the Euro is one thing, healing the culture that surrounds it is another. A world in which material values are everything and spiritual values nothing is neither a stable state nor a good society. The time has come for us to recover the Judeo-Christian ethic of human dignity in the image of God. When Europe recovers its soul, it will recover its wealth-creating energies. But first it must remember: humanity was not created to serve markets. Markets were created to serve humankind.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:21 PM | Permalink

December 3, 2011

" If Christianity goes, the lot goes"

Peter Mullen brings a sigh of relief after learning that the calvary in the form of the US Federal Reserve rode to the rescue of the European financial institutions, but not for long.

If Christianity goes, so does Europe

Whatever the future holds, we need to understand that the economic collapse is not the main crisis which engulfs Europe. More significantly, we see the EU developing into the ever-tighter totalitarianism which was envisaged from its inception. The founding fathers of the EU never foresaw a democratic union.
--
But this creeping totalitarianism is not the root of our problem. Our crisis is a spiritual crisis, a crisis of identity.
--
all references to Europe’s Christian character have been expunged by the EU bureaucrats. Europe is now officially secular.  Pope Benedict XVI identified our real crisis with terrifying clarity:

“The EU is godless. But then it is unthinkable that the EU could build a common European house while ignoring Europe’s identity. Europe is a historical, cultural and moral identity before it is a geographic, economic or political reality. It is an identity built on a set of values which Christianity played a part in moulding.”
--
The mistake of the secularists and the bien pensants who now control every aspect of our lives is to imagine that we can throw off our Christian identity and yet all the political liberties and other good social consequences we derive from that identity will remain in place.

They won’t and already they haven’t. If Christianity goes, the lot goes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:06 PM | Permalink

November 7, 2011

"It is perilously easy for young men to lose their way and our society does very little to help"

The wise man Walter Russell Mead writes  The Crisis of Young Men is a Crisis For Us All

Joblessness is only one aspect of a growing social crisis.  America is increasingly failing at the most basic task of socializing any group of people faces: helping its young males make the difficult transition from boyhood and adolescent to mature manhood.  Raised right and appropriately mentored, young men channel their energy and idealism into building families and making a better world.  Hard work, ambition, the desire to serve and protect: young men at their best make indispensable contributions to social health and well being.

It is perilously easy for young men to lose their way and our society does very little to help.  Between widespread divorce and illegitimacy, many young men are growing up with only tenuous connections with suitable adult role models.  Movies, television and popular music offer the most distorted and destructive images of men: either superhuman macho killing and loving machines or ineffectual workadaddy wimps and figures of fun.

If our boys don’t negotiate that complex transition and become men, American society will fail.  It is really that simple.  In some urban communities the transmission of the values and behaviors that help boys become men has broken down altogether; that crisis is spreading out of the inner cities and into the mainstream.  Churches, community groups and individual men need to think hard about how to reach and help this vulnerable and vital demographic.  Without new generations of upright, God fearing, disciplined, hard working and community minded men, American society will be a poor and violent place.  We are already well on the way.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

October 14, 2011

The Empty Cradle

Low birth rates a threat to economy, study shows

Throughout the developed world, lowered birth rates and family breakdown will have a devastating effect on the global economy and the welfare state’s viability, says an international study released Oct 3.

“On current trends, we face a world of rapidly aging and declining populations, of few children — many of them without the benefit of siblings and a stable, two-parent home — of lonely seniors living on meagre public support, of cultural and economic stagnation,” says the study, entitled “The Empty Cradle: How Contemporary Trends Undermine the Global Economy.”

Co-sponsored by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) and pro-family groups in the United States, the Philippines, Spain and Colombia, the study shows even developing countries such as Iran, Lebanon, Chile, Thailand and South Korea have seen their lifetime births per woman shrink to fewer than two from averages as high as six. Canada’s birth rate is only 1.5 children per woman.
 Empty-Cradle

The study also examines the role of culture and religion.

“Today there remains in the individual countries of Europe, and of the West generally, a strong and growing correlation between conservative religious values and larger-than-average family size.”

In France and Spain, for example, practising Catholic women have “significantly more children” than non-religious women.

“Much the same story can be found throughout the globe, where the religiously observant typically have markedly higher birth rates than does the rest of the population.”

Recognizing that none of their suggestions are adequate, the authors of the study

indicate a philosophical approach is needed, “one that emphasizes the critical role of the intact, nurturing and financially secure family in sustaining and renewing the human, social and financial capital of aging societies around the globe.”

One uncomfortable fact is that if the 40 million children aborted since 1973 were alive, we would not be facing a social security problem.  About 25 million more people would be paying into the system and creating demand in the economy.

But it was Mark Steyn who put it best in It's the Demography, Stupid

The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birth rate to sustain it.
---
Europe by the end of this century will be a continent after the neutron bomb; the grand buildings will still be standing, but the people who built them will be gone. We are living through a remarkable period: the self-extinction of the race who, for good or ill, shaped the modern world."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:48 AM | Permalink

September 25, 2011

"It's been such a long time since I heard anything that gave me some hope."

I found this story profoundly moving.  It comes from Sandro Magister, The Pope in Germany. In the Desert of Faith

"Where God is, there is the future" is the title Pope Benedict XVI wanted to give his third visit to Germany.
--
In Berlin and Erfurt, Benedict XVI enters into the area of Europe farthest from God. He wants to make it a new mission territory. A report from Chemnitz, where atheists are in the majority and almost no one is baptized anymore.
--
The protagonists of the renewed evangelization are a few families of Neocatechumenal Catholics, who have gone there as missionaries from other European countries.
--
It is moving, the little crowd of young Christians this evening in Chemnitz, formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt. Because in this corner of the former German Democratic Republic, civilization was born, in the year 1136, from a handful of Benedictine monks who founded an abbey, bringing in their wake Christian families who lived around the convent and cleared the forests for farmland, and those families also had about a dozen children apiece.

Can the story begin again, when it seems finished? You ask yourself this in this silent and spent city, where one out of every four inhabitants is elderly, and the only children of broken families are alone. Here the people turn around and look if a Neocatechumenal family goes out with even half of its children. And if a classmate happens to come over for lunch, he takes a picture of the crowded table with his cellphone, in disbelief.
--
"You're so lucky," they often say to us, "you go home from school and you all eat together. We eat alone, or with the cat." In a flash of longing for a real family.
--
Two generations without God are a lot, to the memory of men. But when, one day, some of Professor Rebeggiani's children began to sing from the balcony of their home – for the pure joy of it – the ancient song "Non nobis Domine sed nomini tuo da gloriam," the neighbors came to the windows to listen. And a widow asked the young people to sing the same song at the cemetery, in memory of her dead husband. They did, and one of those present approached them at the end: "It's been such a long time," he said, "since I heard anything that gave me some hope."

Who knows, you ask yourself, if it didn't begin the same way for the handful of Benedictine monks and laypeople who arrived here in 1136: with the astonishment of men who glimpsed something beautiful in them, and felt a mysterious longing for it.

Not to us, not to us, O Lord,
But to your name give glory.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:35 PM | Permalink

September 20, 2011

"A long, likely parade of horribles"

In Forbes is Greece and The Crisis of the Governing Elite

Europe’s governing elite – and those who believe in the superiority of government in the management of the economy – is in crisis.  Their visions of a more just society and economic security are being shredded by the stark reality that the governments they run are running out of money.

That begins a wonderful quote of Frederic Bastiat , “Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state.  They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.”


While Takis Michas writes in the Wall Street Journal Greece Won't Reform

"The present government has done absolutely nothing during the last 12 months to speed up privatizations, reduce the public sector or open up closed professions," Athanasios Papandropoulos, a leading economic analyst, told me recently in an interview. "In these 12 months it has not fired even one civil servant. The only thing it is doing is trying to tax the private sector out of existence. Why should we believe that they will do something different now?"

Bret Stephens takes a whack at What Comes After 'Europe'.

What comes next is the explosion of the European project. Given what European leaders have made of that project over the past 30-odd years, it's not an altogether bad thing. But it will come at a massive cost. The riots of Athens will become those of Milan, Madrid and Marseilles. Parties of the fringe will gain greater sway. Border checkpoints will return. Currencies will be resurrected, then devalued. Countries will choose decay over reform. It's a long, likely parade of horribles.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink

September 14, 2011

China will soon become the largest Christian country on earth

Liao Yiwu spent four years in jail for writing and recording "Massacre", a poem about the killing of democracy protestors in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and when faced with jail again for the publication of his book God is Red slipped out of China to take refuge in Germany writes Ellen Bork in Hammer and Sickle and Cross

"God Is Red" consists of informal profiles of Christians in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu and Dali and in remote areas of the southwestern province of Yunnan. Beginning with a 100-year-old nun and ending with a recovering slacker in his 20s, his subjects describe the days of Western missionaries, the advent of communism—"like hearing the sinister caw of dark ravens," the nun recalls—and the ambiguous tolerance of the post-Mao era.
--
Mr. Liao is an unlikely chronicler of China's roughly 70 million Christians. Though skeptical about the vicious, anti-religious Communist propaganda he was raised on—he is 53—he is also skeptical of religion itself.
--
Mr. Liao became interested in the topic after encounters with two doctors who gave up successful careers to pursue missionary work, one in the mountains, the other in the underground "house churches" of Beijing (an alternative to the official churches controlled by the state). At the time, Mr. Liao himself was struggling, broke and on the run from security agents whom he had provoked by reporting on the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement. His research proved redemptive. "These trips have exhilarated me, lifting me out of my drunken depression," he recalls. "In these remote corners, I have discovered a center point, where East met West, and although there has been a collision of cultures, there is now a new Christian identity that is distinctively Chinese."

 Jesus In Chinese Arts

The BBC reports on Christians in China: Is the country in spiritual crisis?

“There are already more Chinese at church on a Sunday than in the whole of Europe.”

Christopher Landau has recorded two fascinating programs for the BBC as he journeyed through China and reports on why Communist authorities are allowing Christianity to flourish so freely now.

Christianity in China. episode 1
Christianity in China. episode 2

For BBC4, Tim Gardam reports on God in China where Christianity is exploding: China will soon become the largest Christian country on earth. 

As the Communist Party seeks to address the effects on Chinese society in becoming manufacturer to the world, combined with rampant consumerism and its own one child policy, it is turning to religion to fill the void.
God in China Christianity and Catholicism

There are more Christians in China (70 million) than there are people in Britain (62 million in 2009).  Some estimate the number of Christians in China to be closer to 80 million, even 100 million, when you count all the practicing Christians in underground churches that are not approved by the government.  If you take the latter number, there are more Christians in China than members of the Communist party.

Xun Jinzhen, a Christian convert who runs a beauty salon in Beijing, put it eloquently when he said: "We have very few people who believe in communism as a faith. So there's an emptiness in their hearts."

The growth of the Christian churches in China is a story of great courage and belief in the special status of man as a moral creature, for whom good and evil are eternal truths that cannot be redefined by politicians. It gives enormous hope for the future happiness of a people who have suffered under the dying creed of communism for much too long.

 Chinese Icon Mary Babyjesus

One reason the Chinese government is allowing Christianity is because of the social services they provide - old age homes and orphanages and more  - at little or no cost to the government. 

Another is a quote from Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power that I repeat one or more times every year since 2006.

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.  That is why the West is so powerful.

“The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.”

But not all in the government are happy because the Growth of Christianity in China may lead to social change.

Beijing's often brutal crackdown on those of the Christian faith, have included roundups, blacklisting and jailing. The government has driven thousands of followers underground, spurring on the house church network. It's estimated that 60 percent of Chinese Christians attend unregistered house churches.

 Chinese Crucifixion

Catholic Christians in China have faced increasing hostility with the growth of what is called the "Patriotic" Church, a State sponsored Chinese Catholic expression which seeks to undermine the authority of the Pope and the teaching office, the Magisterium, of the Roman Catholic Church.

Recently, this Patriotic Church proceeded with the consecration of one of its own Bishops with no approval from the Holy See. Catholic bishops and Priests loyal to the Church were coerced and compelled to attend or face persecution. Pope benedict XVI has heroically and publicly spoken out against this persecution and encouraged the Chinese faithful to persevere.

 Resurrection-Chinese

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:54 PM | Permalink

August 22, 2011

"A meek man of mighty action"

Jonathan Sacks, Britain's chief rabbi,  on Reversing the Moral Decay Behind the London Riots

Britain is the latest country to pay the price for what happened half a century ago in one of the most radical transformations in the history of the West. In virtually every Western society in the 1960s there was a moral revolution, an abandonment of its entire traditional ethic of self-restraint.
--
This was the bursting of a dam of potential trouble that has been building for years. The collapse of families and communities leaves in its wake unsocialized young people, deprived of parental care, who on average—and yes, there are exceptions—do worse than their peers at school, are more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse, less likely to find stable employment and more likely to land up in jail.

The truth is, it is not their fault. They are the victims of the tsunami of wishful thinking that washed across the West saying that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage, children without the responsibility of parenthood, social order without the responsibility of citizenship, liberty without the responsibility of morality and self-esteem without the responsibility of work and earned achievement.
--
We have been spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital.

Janet Dailey, UK riots: The end of the liberals' great moral delusion

What real people know – and have known for quite a long time – is that the great tacit agreement which once held civic life together has been deliberately blown apart. There was a time within living memory when all reasonable grown-ups were considered to be on the same side. Parents, teachers, police, judges, politicians – decent citizens of every station and calling – formed an unspoken confederacy to uphold standards of behaviour within their own communities. But their shared values and expectations about human conduct were systematically undermined by a post-Sixties political ideology that preached wholesale disrespect for authority, and legitimised anti-social activity in the name of protest.

 Londonriots-Hooded-Youth

--
Somehow, we are going to have to restore trust that the operations of government and the law are not at odds with the moral inclinations of conscientious citizens. Basic to this will be the acceptance that we do not have to explain – to find legitimate reasons for – acts of wickedness: that people can do bad things for no good reason at all, and that destructive and vicious impulses are, sadly, as “natural” as charitable ones. It is futile to go on asking why the riots happened, when the question that was on the minds of most of the rioters was not “Why?” but “Why not?”

With the exception of few leftists who continue to excuse the rioters,  everyone who is paying attention sees clearly the rot that has infested modern, western culture.  Yet  few understand the important role faith communities have in building up the civic culture and in reversing the downward spiral of culture and society

Damian Thompson Benedict XVI in Spain: a triumph for this 'meek man of mighty action' (despite the best efforts of the BBC)

The crowd-pulling power of Benedict XVI is almost miraculous, given the contrast with his openly charismatic predecessor, and his former image as a conservative “enforcer”.
--
I’m very struck by the rapport – so evident during the Pope’s visit to Britain – that Benedict has established with young people. Partly it’s his grandfatherly charm; partly his spiritual message, expressed in language that is neither platitudinous nor patronising. What a breath of fresh air for young people exposed to bishops’ conferences’ “youth ministries”, with their dumbed-down homilies and 1970s folksy musak. The Herald’s Madeleine Teahan, definitely a young Catholic writer to watch, came up with a lovely phrase for this Pope: “A meek man of mighty action”.

 Papal Mass

James Bradley, a year ago an Anglican, now  a deacon in the Personal Ordinate of Our Lady of Walsingham that Pope Benedict set up,  sang the Gospel in front of the Pope and half a million youth

After hours of liturgical rehearsals, sound checks and walk-throughs I thought I was more than ready for the liturgy, but I’m not sure that anything would have adequately prepared me for the sheer joy which echoed around the streets of the city.

As the papal entourage entered Plaza de Cibeles, more than half a million young adults from five continents erupted with cheers of welcome: “Viva! Viva!.” Faithful to the Church, hungry for Christ, and with a deep respect for the papacy, the volume showed just how vibrant and alive the Catholic Church is among the young, and especially how much they love and revere Pope Benedict.

Spanish leftists harassed the young pilgrims in Madrid as one young woman writes.

We went in and people were shouting filthy slurs and cursing the Pope and it was awful
So we knelt down and prayed a Rosary for them in the crowd and got surrounded by angry protesters, shouting and threatening and spitting and filming us and mocking us and trying to burn our flags.
A gay couple came and made out in front of us but whatever...

 Pilgrim-Madrid Protestors

Atheist Richard Dawkins blasts  the Catholic Church

... It is extremely powerful and its "moral" crusades adversely affect the lives of millions of people in Europe and in the world.

and announces a London march for secularism on Sept 17.

Fr Dwight Longenecker on Dawkins' Rage and WJD

The Catholic Church mounts World Youth Day and over a million young people from around the world turn up to be public about their love for the Catholic Church. You know that million represent another ten million who would love to be there. They are young. They are positive. They are smart. They are energetic, and they are joyful. Watch the video of Antonio--a boy "born deaf and near death" for a shining example of what it means to be young, to be Catholic and to be pro-life.

In contrast have a look at your usual atheist-secularist gathering. They're old. They're dull. They're negative. They're tired and most of all they're angry. The more they organize their graying, baying crowds of worn out sexually exhausted has beens the better. They make our World Youth Day crowds look like the future. Which they are.

-Nuns Wyd Madid

This makes me laugh out loud with joy, for Richard Dawkins in his impotent rage is now raining on his own parade. He is increasingly marginalized as a shrill and incoherent shadow of his former self. Once an eminent scientist his public persona is now of the wild eyed extremist--the sort of irrational atheist who would gladly suppress religion in the name of 'freedom', close church schools in the interests of education, and forbid religious education and enforce atheist indoctrination in the name of 'freedom of thought'.

Father Blake, in advance of WYD, wrote about Dawkins in Two Different Worlds.

Richard Dawkins brought at least one lapsed Catholic back to the Church during the Papal visit to the UK. She saw the the anti-Pope snarling mob led by Dawkins and Tatchel, with their plastic devil horns and inflated condoms, sex "toys" and angry faces and she saw the sheer joy of those cheering the Pope and the banners carried by the enthusiastic youth. She said it wasn't about arguments, it was about faces.  Dawkins & co. glaring and hopeless, those who were there cheering the Pope full of hope and smiling - anger and joy, hate and love. For her it was the contrast between two worlds, signified by the Pope and Dawkins, faith and faithlessness, hope and hopelessness, the spiritual and the material, light and darkness.

 Catechesissm Wyd

A pilgrim to WYD writes in the Huffington Post

Pilgrims will likely not forget hiking with temperatures over 90 degrees in order to encounter the million other people arriving at the same site and looking for a place to sleep, only for their belongings later to be soaked or blown away by the rain and high winds that caused a chapel constructed on the site to collapse. Still, inclement weather was but a preface to the deeper atmosphere at the conclusion of World Youth Day in Spain.

At the beginning of his homily, Pope Benedict expressed that his heart was full of joy in seeing young people from all ends of the world gathered together - and still gathered together, despite how the weather affected the almost entirely tent-less pilgrims who slept outside the night before. Many had responded to the storm with even more singing and dancing, and millions of us here in Madrid had tasted a similar joy during this week.

And the joy was contagious

 Wydpilgrims

--
The 20th-century Jesuit Pierre Teillhard de Chardin said that "joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God." After seeing the Pope, encountering over a million fellow young people who share their faith, attending liturgical celebrations in various languages with music that moves their hearts, many young people explicitly attest to feeling as if they have been in the presence of God and that they are "rooted in Christ"-- part of the theme of this year's World Youth Day. All while exuding a contagious joy that can be an indication of that presence.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:03 PM | Permalink

August 20, 2011

Sexual freedom trumps child welfare again

David French, Ideology Trumps Child Welfare

In recent days and weeks, I’ve been pounding at the theme of how our culture and legal system place paramount importance on adult desires. Even when directly dealing with a child’s well-being (including their very right to life), the greater concern is adult happiness.

The latest example comes from Illinois, where a county judge ruled the state can decline to renew its contracts with Catholic Charities to provide publicly funded foster care and adoption services. While I haven’t read the court opinion (and thus can’t opine on the legal merits of the decision), the public policy is horrific. After the passage of the state’s civil-unions bill, Illinois officials told Catholic Charities that its policy of placing children only in married households or where single parents live alone violated state anti-discrimination law and did not fit within the very narrow religious liberty protections contained in the civil-unions statute. 

The consequence? More than 2,000 children are in danger of removal from Catholic Charities’ care — without any evidence that its care is deficient or harmful to these children. Ironically enough, this ruling comes the same week that research from the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project unequivocally reaffirms that children do better in married households — the very households Catholic Charities prefers.

Same-sex marriage advocates have long minimized its impact on religious liberty, but as this and other examples show, both religious liberty and child welfare are ultimately subordinate to sexual freedom. 

The New York Times piece on The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy about the increasingly commonplace practice whereby twin pregnancies are "reduced" to single babies via abortion has garnered lots of attention.

For all its successes, reproductive medicine has produced a paradox: in creating life where none seemed possible, doctors often generate more fetuses than they intend. In the mid-1980s, they devised an escape hatch to deal with these megapregnancies, terminating all but two or three fetuses to lower the risks to women and the babies they took home. But what began as an intervention for extreme medical circumstances has quietly become an option for women carrying twins. With that, pregnancy reduction shifted from a medical decision to an ethical dilemma. As science allows us to intervene more than ever at the beginning and the end of life, it outruns our ability to reach a new moral equilibrium.

Ross Douthat focuses on The Failure of LIberal Bioethics

The liberal camp includes many thinkers I admire, and it has produced some of the more eloquent reflections on biotechnology’s implications for human affairs. But at least in the United States, the liberal effort to (as the Goodman of 1980 put it) “monitor” and “debate” and “control” the development of reproductive technologies has been extraordinarily ineffectual. From embryo experimentation to selective reduction to the eugenic uses of abortion, liberals always promise to draw lines and then never actually manage to draw them. Like Dr. Evans, they find reasons to embrace each new technological leap while promising to resist the next one — and then time passes, science marches on, and they find reasons why the next moral compromise, too, must be accepted for the greater good, or at least tolerated in the name of privacy and choice. You can always count on them to worry, often perceptively, about hypothetical evils, potential slips down the bioethical slope. But they’re either ineffectual or accommodating once an evil actually arrives. Tomorrow, they always say — tomorrow, we’ll draw the line. But tomorrow never comes.

While French hits the mark in 'Selective Reduction' and Self-Indulgence.

What is the common thread? A desire for life on their own terms. They want children (I don’t doubt some desperately want children; especially the older women seeking expensive and sometimes painful fertility treatments), but within certain boundaries. That’s not to say there aren’t profound and intense emotions involved, and those emotions are certainly rationalized in innumerable ways, but selfishness is the heart of the matter.
--
Self-indulgence is the common thread that runs through most culture war issues. From marriage to divorce to cohabitation to abortion, the desperate desire to satisfy the longings of our heart collides with a Judeo-Christian moral tradition that calls for children to be raised in faithful, married mother-father households. And so we make endless accommodations to our desires — protecting as a legal right the quest to satisfy every personal whim — and our culture cracks and crumbles.

The paradox of the human condition is that those who seek to find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life will find it. In other words, the very act of self-denial enriches your life while selfishness destroys the soul
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2011

More reflections on the London riots

Mark Steyn: Lessons for us from London in flames

Big Government means small citizens: it corrodes the integrity of a people, catastrophically. Within living memory, the city in flames on our TV screens every night governed a fifth of the Earth's surface and a quarter of its population. When you're imperialists on that scale, there are bound to be a few mishaps along the way. But nothing the British Empire did to its subject peoples has been as total and catastrophic as what a post-great Britain did to its own.

Andrew Fox: It's J.G. Ballard's World, We Just Live in It

Readers familiar with Ballard’s final quartet of novels, all of which feature middle class professionals either diving into or being pulled into revolutionary, nihilistic violence due to ennui, boredom, or a cancerlike consumerism which has replaced religion and patriotism at the center of their psyches, will certainly nod with recognition at this article from The Daily Mail, which reveals that arrested looters and rioters included a law student, a social worker, a ballerina in training, and the school-age daughter of a millionnaire.

Telegraph editorial

This crisis has been building for years. It is the result of a major cultural shift that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, and the long-term decline of the conservative values and institutions that had underpinned British society since the late 19th century. This process was marked by a collapse in the belief in marriage, a retreat of the police from the streets, a move away from tough penalties for property crime, the rise of moral relativism and rampant consumerism, the diminution of stigma as a restraint on bad behaviour and the entrenchment of welfare dependency. It was not about poverty, but a collapse in values.

 Woman Jumping From Fire London

The woman who leapt from the flames

Miss Konczyk, who is from the Polish town of Koronowo and has a ten-year-old son called Damian, had made the huge move to England after divorcing her husband and leaving behind a job that paid her a pittance.
She said she moved to England because she considered it a great place

'I thought London was a civilised society full of gentlemen and ladies - but it is not like that. England has become a sick society.'
--
'I found myself jumping for my life after being attacked by thugs and thieves. They set fire to my building without any thought for anyone's safety.

'They were happy for me to die.
They were like animals - greedy, selfish animals who thought only of themselves.'

Legacy of a society that believes in nothing A.N. Wilson

Raw with grief, in a voice steady but tight with emotion, his appeal for calm on Wednesday was a beacon of hope amid the tumult and carnage of a horribly dark week for Britain.

....Mr Jahan had the dignity, the compassion and the common sense to demand an end to the violence that had shattered his life. ‘Blacks, Asians, whites — we all live in the same community,’ he said. ‘Why do we have to kill one another? Why are we doing this? Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home — please.’

--Mr Jahan made an open and straightforward declaration of his faith. ‘I’m a Muslim. I believe in divine fate and destiny, and it was his destiny and his fate, and now he’s gone,’ he said. ‘And may Allah forgive him and bless him

 Father Tariq-Jahan

All the main religions are unshakeable when it comes to self-evident truths about right and wrong; about stealing, harming others, coveting goods, instant gratification and so on.
--
I interviewed Immanuel Jakobovits on his retirement as Chief Rabbi in Britain...His parting message as he retired, not only to the Jewish community but also to the British people, was that marriage and family life need to be learned; that if necessary we should have classes for young people, teaching them the importance of family life, of how to bring up children, how to discipline them kindly but firmly, and how to instil the sense of that moral law within.
--
Today, we live in a society where religion is something for which apologies must be made.
--
A Christian woman working for British Airways who wears a cross round her neck is asked to remove it for fear of offending other people. A nurse who prays with a patient in hospital is committing an almost criminal act. Catholic adoption agencies which disapprove of gay adoptive parents on religious grounds have their licences taken away.

And all the while, our governing classes and academics and teachers chip away at the fundamental truths of the great religions — truths that have stood the test of time for thousands of years — in their arrogant certainty that there are no moral absolutes and that the human race can make up the rules as it goes along.
--
I suspect that when time passes and we look back on this week, it is the religious sincerity of Tariq Jahan that we shall remember. All of us — Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, Christians — have a rich religious inheritance.
At the core of this inheritance is a sense of right and wrong.
And in all these religions, the school where we learn of right and wrong is the family. Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus have all, very noticeably, retained this twin strand of family structure and ethical teaching.
--
Faith in Christianity itself began to unravel long ago, and the majority of those whose forebears were Christian are now completely secular. They would not even recognise simple Bible stories.

The events of the past week have shown the enormous value of a living religious faith.

Not only was Tariq Jahan more impressive than any of the commentators or politicians who spouted on the airwaves this week. He was more human.

By his religious response to his son’s death, he humanised not only the dreadful and immediate tragedy. He showed us that without a religion we are all less than human.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2011

Revolt of the underclass in Britain and its modern day prophet

I've been reading Theodore Dalrymple for years, so I was horrified but not at all surprised at the London riots.  They were inevitable given the decline to  Broken Britain.    I went back to read again some of my posts quoting Dalrymple's essays.  He's a modern day prophet.

Bored by Decency.  After years of working as a psychiatrist at one of Britain's prisons, observing closely the destructive behavior and environments that brought him his clients, Theodore Dalrymple analyzed the underclass.  Long term poverty, he concludes, is caused not by economics but by a dysfunctional set of values.

"not poor... by the standards of human history" but trapped in "a special wretchedness" from which it cannot emerge.

"The combination of relativism and antipathy to traditional culture has played a large part in creating the underclass, thus turning Britain from a class to a caste society. ... Henceforth what they had and what they did was as good as anything, because all cultures and all cultural artifacts are equal. Aspiration was therefore pointless: and thus they have been immobilized in their poverty -- material, mental, and spiritual -- as completely as the damned in Dante's Inferno. Having in large part created this underclass, the British intelligentsia, guilty about its own allegedly undemocratic antecedents, feels obliged to flatter it by imitation and has persuaded the rest of the middle class to do likewise."
--
For people who have no transcendent purpose to their lives and cannot invent one through contributing to a cultural tradition (for example), in other words who have no religious belief and no intellectual interests to stimulate them, self-destruction and the creation of crises in their life is one way of warding off meaninglessness.
--
Without religion or culture (and here I mean high, or high-ish, culture) evil is very attractive. It is not boring.

Where not to be a child

The worst place in the Western world to be a child is Britain reports UNICEF; Theodore Dalrymple calls it Childhood's End.

The British, never fond of children, have lost all knowledge or intuition about how to raise them; as a consequence, they now fear them, perhaps the most terrible augury possible for a society.

What happened to the British character?

Polite, considerate, self-controlled, law-abiding, tolerant of all eccentricities, humble and modest  are adjectives once used to describe the British not that long ago.

Today, the British are often described as loutish, violent, drunken, sluttish, boastful and brutish.
--
Lack of self-control is just as character-forming as self-control: but it forms a different, and much worse and shallower, character. Further, once self-control becomes neither second nature nor a desired goal, but rather a vice to avoid at all costs, there is no plumbing the depths to which people will sink.
--
Habits become character. Perhaps they shouldn’t, but they do.

"I have seen the future and it's riots"

Not long ago, I had occasion to stay for a few weeks in a once-industrial town in the north of England. The last steel mills had just closed down. I was surprised by the elegance of much of the early 19th-century architecture, now completely overwhelmed by the brutalism of the 1960s and ’70s. The prematurely middle-aged spent their time looking for secondhand clothes in charity shops. Pawnshops had also made a big comeback. Feral young men with an expression of urban predation on their faces stood around on street corners in nylon tracksuits and hoods, muttering f---ing this and f---ing that to one another. About half the people in the street were unemployed young immigrants, mainly of Middle Eastern origin, on the lookout for a bit of small-scale trafficking. Some took advantage of free Internet access in the public library—a concrete building aesthetically suitable as the headquarters of the Stasi—to look at inflammatory political sites or to search for women.

I have seen the future, and it’s riots.

He was right.

 Londonriot Taunting Hackney

In the Daily News today , Dalrymple writes Behind England's riots, a violent and entitled generation of British young people

The riots in London and elsewhere in England have confirmed what I long knew and have long preached to my disbelieving but totally unobservant countrymen: that young British people are among the most unpleasant and potentially violent young people in the world. It took determination on the part of my countrymen not to notice it.
--
The rioting is only the extreme end of the spectrum of bad behavior by British youth and young adults. The characteristics that are common to all classes are arrogance, a sense of entitlement and an unwillingness to moderate their behavior for the convenience of others. The main difference between the classes is that the rich can pay for what they feel entitled to, while the poor have to wheedle, cajole, swindle and steal it. But the inflamed sense of entitlement is the same.

These riots certainly did not emerge from a cultural vacuum. Many visitors to Britain, including Americans, are surprised and disturbed by how quickly many people in Britain appear to get murderously angry over trifles and direct real and frightening hatred at a person who has offended them in some very slight way. Tempers flare over nothing.
--
Long training and experience have taught young denizens of our poorer areas that they have nothing to fear from the law. Not only do the police solve a mere 5% of crimes or thereabouts, but nothing much happens to those who are convicted. A former lord chief justice of England, Lord Baron Woolf, thought that house burglary was so trivial a crime that those who committed it should not be imprisoned. Shoplifting has been virtually decriminalized. The slum dwellers of London are not well-educated - they reject the very concept of education - but are perfectly capable of drawing their conclusions. The only thing that will stop the rioters is boredom or exhaustion.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink

August 4, 2011

"Girls in particular believe they are a 'commodity they must sell to other people' on Facebook.

You probably know this already but now a top scientist says it

Facebook and Twitter are creating a vain generation of self-obsessed people with child-like need for feedback,

Facebook and Twitter have created a generation obsessed with themselves, who have short attention spans and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives, a top scientist believes.

Repeated exposure to social networking sites leaves users with an 'identity crisis', wanting attention in the manner of a toddler saying: 'Look at me, Mummy, I've done this.'

Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, believes the growth of internet 'friendships' – as well as greater use of computer games – could effectively 'rewire' the brain.

This can result in reduced concentration, a need for instant gratification and poor non-verbal skills, such as the ability to make eye contact during conversations.
--
Her views were echoed by Sue Palmer, a literacy expert and author, who said girls in particular believe they are a 'commodity they must sell to other people' on Facebook.

She said: 'People used to have a portrait painted but now we can more or less design our own picture online. It's like being the star of your own reality TV show that you create and put out to the world.'

How chilling is this,  "Girls in particular believe they are a 'commodity they must sell to other people' on Facebook."

How sad and tragic.

If a girl sees herself as a commodity, it becomes a lot easier to rationalize prostitution. Seeking Arrangement: College Students Using 'Sugar Daddies' To Pay Off Loan Debt

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 AM | Permalink

July 21, 2011

Excluding a Christian church from Ground Zero

Given the problems facing the Department of Homeland Security, you would think they would avoid the problems inherent in political correctness if only to maintain their credibility, but no.

A new video from the DHS characterizes white middle class Americans as the most likely terrorists with no mention of its own finding in December "In the last 24 months (2009 and 2010) 126 people were indicted on terrorist-related charges in the United States. All of them were Muslim."

I simply cannot understand why the mayor and the governor are not on the phone demanding the Port Authority to do all it can to rebuild St.Nicholas which was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks with the tenth anniversary less than 2 months away.

Islamic Supremacism trumps Christianity at Ground Zero

While New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg works in anxious haste to build the cultural obscenity that is the Ground Zero mosque, the iconic St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was built in 1916 and destroyed in the attack on the World Trade Center towers by Muslim terrorists, remains vanquished, unable to rebuild.
Bloomberg is lobbying for 9/11 taxpayer funds for the Islamic supremacist grifters behind the Ground Zero mosque, but St. Nicholas Church is in purgatory ten years after the worst day in modern American history.
--

I spoke with Evan C. Lambrou, who is a former editor of the National Herald, the country's oldest and largest Greek-American newspaper, and a distinguished graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston.  He explained that it was "wrong for the Port Authority to take the church's original property for its purposes, in exchange for another parcel nearby; extract the church's good faith by promising to actually deliver the promised new parcel; and then not make good on that promise. In short, the Port Authority got the church to do something it didn't really want to do by promising the church something else instead, and then refused to give what was promised. That's just not right. It's morally reprehensible, in fact.

"It's very disgraceful that the Port Authority has compelled the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to file a federal lawsuit just to rebuild one of our churches. And it's simply astounding that people work themselves into such a frenzy about Park 51; that so many elected officials have rushed to defend development of an Islamic community center two blocks away from Ground Zero; and that virtually no one cares about the Port Authority's plans to exclude a Christian church from Ground Zero altogether."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 PM | Permalink

July 16, 2011

More worrisome things

More worrisome things that I must take note of and pass on so I can clear my tabs.

A very different picture of what Palestinians think was revealed in a recent  survey of 1010 Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was completed last week by American pollster Stanley Greenburg and it's not very hopeful.

6 in 10 Palestinians reject a two-state solution.  Sixty-six percent said the Palestinians’ real goal should be to start with a two-state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state.
--
Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62% supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage, and 53% were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.
--
Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the (Hamas) charter (and a hadith, or tradition ascribed to the prophet Muhammad) about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees.
--
But only 45% said they believed in the charter’s statement that the only solution to the Palestinian problem was jihad.
--
When asked what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s top priorities should be, 83% said creating jobs. Just 4% said getting the UN to recognize a Palestinian state, and only 2% said peace talks with Israel.

I don't like this at all.  Hezbollah hooks up with Mexican drug cartels.

Islamic terrorist groups are setting up shop in Mexico and forming alarming ties with the country's brutal drug cartels, according to a 2010 internal memo from the Tucson Police Department.  The memo, leaked by the hacker group LulzSec as part of its Arizona Department of Public Safety hack, warns that Hezbollah has established operations — and a large arms stockpile — in Mexico.

Mark Steyn reports on a public taxpayer-funded school in Toronto where every Friday afternoon, the cafeteria is opened for Muslim Friday prayers that was featured in last Saturday's Toronto Star.

 Toronto Hs Muslimprayers

The picture is taken from the back of the cafeteria. In the distance are the boys. They’re male, so they get to sit up front at prayers. Behind them are the girls. They’re female, so they have to sit behind the boys because they’re second-class citizens – not in the whole of Canada, not formally, not yet, but in the cafeteria of a middle school run by the Toronto District School Board they most certainly are.

And the third row? The ones with their backs to us in the foreground of the picture? Well, let the Star’s caption writer explain:

At Valley Park Middle School, Muslim students participate in the Friday prayer service. Menstruating girls, at the very back, do not take part.

Oh. As Kathy Shaidle says:

Yep, that’s part of the caption of the Toronto Star photo.

Yes, the country is Canada and the year is 2011.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 PM | Permalink

July 15, 2011

The Totalitarian impulse and Elite Sanctimony

These days when the debate over gay marriage has become rancorous, George Weigel  reminds us about the totalitarian temptation in No Homophobia.

[C]rying “homophobia” is a cheap calumny, a crypto-totalitarian bully’s smear that impresses no serious person.

As analysts running the gamut from Hannah Arendt to Leszek Kolakowski understood, modern totalitarian systems were, at bottom, attempts to remake reality by redefining reality and remaking human beings in the process. Coercive state power was essential to this process, because reality doesn’t yield easily to remaking, and neither do people. In the lands Communism tried to remake, the human instinct for justice — justice that is rooted in reality rather than ephemeral opinion — was too strong to change the way tastemakers change fashions in the arts. Men and women had to be coerced into accepting, however sullenly, the Communist New Order, which was a new metaphysical, epistemological, and moral order — a New Order of reality, a new set of “truths,” and a new way of living “in harmony with society,” as late-bureaucratic Communist claptrap had it.
--
[M]arriage and the families that are built around marriage constitute one of the basic elements of civil society, that free space of free associations whose boundaries the just state must respect. If the 21st-century democratic state attempts to redefine something it has neither the capacity nor the authority to refine, it can only do so coercively. That redefinition, and its legal enforcement, is a grave encroachment into civil society.

If the state can redefine marriage and enforce that redefinition, it can do so with the doctor-patient relationship, the lawyer-client relationship, the parent-child relationship, the confessor-penitent relationship, and virtually every other relationship that is woven into the texture of civil society. In doing so, the state does serious damage to the democratic project. Concurrently, it reduces what it tries to substitute for reality to farce.

That’s what those whom Mr. Kennicott deplores as virulent bigots were trying to point out.

Neoneocon points out how religious freedom lost in Gay marriage and religious freedom

The original legislation contained an important clause protecting (for now) churches from being forced to perform gay marriages if it violates their beliefs. But it lacked protection for any other group or individual that might have a similar problem. The repercussions could have been predicted, and actions such as that of Laura L. Fotusky, who resigned as town clerk of Barker, NY because performing such marriages would violate her religious beliefs, might be followed by similar actions on the part of others facing the same dilemma.
--
Ms. Rice’s characterization of their attitude as “personal” and “discriminatory” is personal and discriminatory itself, because beliefs founded in a religion that’s been a going concern for two thousand years are more of a group/institutional thing than some personal idiosyncrasy. Plus—at least until the NY legislation was passed less than three weeks ago—the belief that marriage remained the province of man and woman was considered mainstream and nondiscriminatory.

No doubt Ms. Rice, who is a DA, chose her words carefully in order to downplay and/or ignore the real issue here, which is religious freedom, a supposedly protected right. It is the same issue involved in protecting hospital and health care workers who refuse on religious grounds to participate in abortions that run counter to their belief system.

It's hard not to agree with Frank Furedi who wrote in The Australian on a similar debate down under: When gay matrimony meets elite sanctimony.

Whatever one thinks about the pros and cons of gay marriage, a tolerant society cannot deny the right of homosexual couples to formalise their relationship. But the campaign for gay marriage is not just about rights but about the contestation of values and attitudes.

From a sociological perspective, the ascendancy of the campaign for gay marriage provides a fascinating story about the dynamics of the cultural conflicts that prevail in Western society. During the past decade the issue of gay marriage has been transformed into a cultural weapon that explicitly challenges prevailing norms through condemning those who oppose it. This is not so much a call for legal change as a cause: one that endows its supporters with moral superiority and demotes its opponents with the status of moral inferiority.

As a result, it does not simply represent a claim for a right but a demand for the institutionalisation of new moral and cultural values.
--
What we have here is the casual affirmation of a double standard: tolerance towards supporters of gay marriage and intolerance directed towards its opponents.

The declaration that certain values and attitudes are incompatible with modern society tends to serve as a prelude towards stigmatising and attempting to silence it. That is why the so-called enlightened opponents of "old-time religion" more than match the intolerance of those they denounce as homophobic bigots.

In the Anglo-American world, gay marriage has become one of those causes through which the cosmopolitan cultural elites define themselves and construct a moral contrast between themselves and ordinary folk. What's really important for them is the sense of superiority experienced through the conviction that "we" are not like them. In this way, a clear moral distinction is drawn between the forward-looking attitudes of an enlightened, courageous minority and the backward-looking prejudices of a homophobic majority.

Another Australian writer Sheila Liaugminas interviews Princeton philosophy professor Robert George in The
Orthodoxy of Sexual Liberation

Devotion to “sexual freedom” had been no part of the liberalism of FDR, George Meaney, Cesar Chavez, Hubert Humphrey, or the leaders and rank-and-file members of the civil-rights movement. Today, however, allegiance to the cause of sexual freedom is the nonnegotiable price of admission to the liberal (or “progressive”) club. ...

As Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and I argue in our Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy article, once one buys into the ideology of sexual liberalism, the reality that has traditionally been denominated as “marriage” loses all intelligibility. That is true whether one regards oneself politically as a liberal or a conservative. For people who have absorbed the central premises of sexual liberation (whether formally and explicitly, as liberals tend to do, or merely implicitly as those conservatives who have gone in for it tend to do), marriage simply cannot function as the central principle or standard of rectitude in sexual conduct, as it has in Western philosophy, theology, and law for centuries.
--
Moreover, one will come to regard one’s allegiance to sexual liberalism as a mark of urbanity and sophistication, and will likely find oneself looking down on those “ignorant,” “intolerant,” “bigoted” people — those hicks and rubes — who refuse to get “on the right side of history.” One will perceive people who wish to engage in conduct rejected by traditional morality (especially where such conduct is sought in satisfaction of desires that can be redescribed or labeled as an “orientation,” such as “gay” or “bisexual,” or “polyamorist”) as belonging to the category of “sexual minorities” whose “civil rights” are violated by laws embodying the historic understanding of marriage and sexual ethics. One will begin congratulating oneself for one’s “open-mindedness” and “tolerance” in holding that marriage should be redefined to accommodate the interests of these minorities, and one will likely lose any real regard for the rights of, say, parents who do not wish to have their children indoctrinated into the ideology of sexual liberalism in public schools. “Why,” one will ask, “should fundamentalist parents be free to rear their children as little bigots?” Heather’s two mommies or Billy’s two mommies and three daddies are the keys to freeing children from parental “homophobia” and “polyphobia.”

---
“Let the marriage matter be put to the ballot in state after state,” he said, emphatically. “Because when the people deliberate on the issue, they have always come down on the side of traditional marriage.” In 31 out of 31 times it’s been put to the vote, he reminds me.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:13 AM | Permalink

July 6, 2011

"State-encouraged incest"

Germany and EU to Legalize Pedophilia and with it, Child Pornography as well


Booklets from a subsidiary of the German government’s Ministry for Family Affairs encourage parents to sexually massage their children as young as 1 to 3 years of age.
--
“Fathers do not devote enough attention to the clitoris and vagina of their daughters. Their caresses too seldom pertain to these regions, while this is the only way the girls can develop a sense of pride in their sex,” reads the booklet regarding 1-3 year olds. The authors rationalize, “The child touches all parts of their father’s body, sometimes arousing him. The father should do the same.”

My favorite Canadian author Michael O'Brien comments:

It is, he said, “State-encouraged incest, which in most civilized societies is a crime.” The development is, he suggests, a natural outcome of the rejection of the Judeo-Christian moral order.

“The imposed social revolution that has swept the western world is moving to a new stage as it works out the logical consequences of its view of man’s value,” said O’Brien. “It is merely obeying its strictly materialist philosophy of man. If man is no more than a creature created for pleasure or power. If he is no more than a cell in the social organism, then no moral standards, no psychological truths, no spiritual truths can refute the ‘will to power’ and the ‘will to pleasure’.”
--
The wiser and deeper position of most civilizations recognized that children need a period of innocence,” commented O’Brien. “Now the state, the German state, is encouraging destruction of this state of innocence,”
he added. “This is consistent with the materialist philosophy that sees all moral norms and all truths about human nature as repressive. Pleasure and their distorted concept of freedom are their only guiding principles.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:39 AM | Permalink

July 4, 2011

"The things of the spirit come first" - Calvin Coolidge

President Calvin Coolidge was a 4th of July baby,  born on July 4 in 1872.

His Speech on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence is extraordinary and

and I urge you to read and ponder it.    We are not only in danger of neglecting our great heritage, we may fail to pass it on and that is worse.

We meet to celebrate the birthday of America. The coming of a new life always excites our interest. Although we know in the case of the individual that it has been an infinite repetition reaching back beyond our vision, that only makes it the more wonderful. But how our interest and wonder increase when we behold the miracle of the birth of a new nation.

Although a century and a half measured in comparison with the length of human experience is but a short time, yet measured in the life of governments and nations it ranks as a very respectable period.
Certainly enough time has elapsed to demonstrate with a great deal of thoroughness the value of our institutions and their dependability as rules for the regulation of human conduct and the advancement of civilization. They have been in existence long enough to become very well seasoned. They have met, and met successfully, the test of experience.

It is not so much then for the purpose of undertaking to proclaim new theories and principles that this annual celebration is maintained, but rather
to reaffirm and reestablish those old theories and principles which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound. Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken. Whatever perils appear, whatever dangers threaten, the Nation remains secure in the knowledge that the ultimate application of the law of the land will provide an adequate defense and protection.
-----
We are too prone to overlook another conclusion. Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people....

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern.  But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

--
Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meeting-house. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 AM | Permalink

June 29, 2011

The buffoonery of TIME

The tripe on the covers of the fading newsweeklies make me ever thankful for the Internet.

 Timecover Shredding Constitution

When managing editor Richard Stengel penned One Document Under Siege  he hadn't counted on  Patterico who called the piece a "journalistic scandal" written by a man who serves in an organization dedicated to teaching other journalists about the Constitution yet "rife with factual errors, including many that are obvious simply by reading the Constitution."

Patterico finds thirteen factual errors and rebuts then one by one with real facts.

False Claim #1: The Constitution does not limit the Federal Government.

Proof that he is wrong: The Constitution is filled with limitations on Federal Power.  For instance, Article I, Section 9 says:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.  [A.W.: They’re talking about the slave trade.]

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another….

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States[.]

And then there is Article III, Section 3, limiting what the government can do to a traitor:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

It should be noted that Corruption of Blood is a doctrine by which the family of a traitor would suffer because of their alleged corrupted blood, so this is limiting the government’s ability to punish the children of a traitor for his or her treason.

And then there is the Bill of Rights.  As I noted last time, Mr. Stengel considered them as of a piece with the original Constitution, an interpretation I concurred with.  Every single one of them represents a limitation on federal power, so it is sufficient to only quote a few of them:

Amendment 1

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 2

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
….

Amendment 9

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So contrary to his suggestion, the Constitution does indeed limit the power of the Federal Government, a point most of us learned in elementary school.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 AM | Permalink

April 26, 2011

"In God We Trust"

"In God We Trust", inscribed on all our currency is a "non religious recognition of the faith of the nation's founders in a higher power as the source of all rights" ruled the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a ruling the US Supreme Court declined to review. Newdow vs. Lefevre, 10-892.

–In God We Trust Coin

Professional plaintiff Michael Newdow, an atheist, had claimed that the phrase on currency amounts of an endorsement of religion and violates his rights under the First Amendment.

However, the origin of that amendment is attributed by historians to the founding fathers’ desire to avoid an official federally-supported church, like the Church of England, and was not intended to exclude religious expression in public life.

In July 2010, another federal appeals court in the District of Columbia ruled 3-0 in favor the national motto’s constitutionality under the First Amendment.

“It is quite obvious that the national motto and slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion,” wrote the panel, quoting the 1970 decision, Aronow v. United States.

Father Barron explains Why It Matters That Our Democracy Trusts in God. 

It's the only way we can justify our 'inalienable rights' of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.    Only if these rights exist prior to king or state can they be protected from the king or state.  Otherwise, the king or the state is
free to grant, nullify or deny those rights that do not serve their purposes.

Even the United Nations in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights posits human dignity as the foundation of those rights.    We Americans are just more forthright about where that dignity comes from.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 AM | Permalink

April 21, 2011

"Austerity and decline are what will come if we do not reform the welfare state." Austerity and decline are what will come if we do not reform the welfare state.

A candidate for best essay of the year,  Beyond the Welfare State by Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs.


It is becoming increasingly clear that we in America are living through a period of transition. One chapter of our national life is closing, and another is about to begin. We can sense this in
the tense volatility of our electoral politics, as dramatic "change elections" follow closely upon one another. We can feel it in the unseemly mood of decline that has infected our public life — leaving our usually cheerful nation fretful about global competition and unsure if the next generation will be able to live as well as the present one. Perhaps above all, we can discern it in an overwhelming sense of exhaustion emanating from many of our public institutions — our creaking mid-century transportation infrastructure, our overburdened regulatory agencies struggling to keep pace with a dynamic economy, our massive entitlement system edging toward insolvency.

But these are mostly symptoms of our mounting unease. The most significant cause runs deeper. We have the feeling that
profound and unsettling change is afoot because the vision that has dominated our political imagination for a century — the vision of the social-democratic welfare state — is drained and growing bankrupt, and it is not yet clear just what will take its place.
--
The fact is that we do not face a choice between the liberal welfare state on one hand and austerity on the other. Those are two sides of the same coin:
Austerity and decline are what will come if we do not reform the welfare state.
---

Our welfare state is very poorly suited to the kind of society we are — an aging society in which older people are, on the whole, wealthier than younger people. And it is very poorly suited to the kind of society we want to be — enterprising and vibrant, with a free economy, devoted to social mobility and eager to offer a hand up to the poor. A successful reform agenda would have to take account of both.

It would begin not from the assumption that capitalism is dehumanizing, but rather from the
sense that too many people do not have access to capitalism's benefits. It would start not from the presumption that traditional practices and institutions must be overcome by rational administration, but rather from the firm conviction that family, church, and civil society are the means by which human beings find fulfillment and are essential counterweights to the market. It would reject the notion that universal dependence can build solidarity, and insist instead that only self-reliance, responsibility, and discipline can build mutual respect and character in a free society. It would seek to help the poor not with an empty promise of material equality but with a fervent commitment to upward mobility. It would reject the top-down bureaucratic state in favor of consumer choice and competition. It would insist on the distinction between a welfare program and a welfare state — between directed efforts to help the poor avail themselves of meaningful opportunities and a broad project to remake society along social-democratic lines.
--

We need it above all because the decline of the social-democratic welfare state risks persuading us, falsely, that America's fate is to decline along with it. On the contrary, America's fate is, as it always has been, to show the world by example how a commitment to human liberty and equality, an application of republican virtues, a belief in individual ingenuity and drive, and an unswerving devotion to helping the least among us rise can defy the cynics and the pessimists, and can make future generations proud to succeed us.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink

April 14, 2011

The Book That Made Your World

First,  Chinese leaders say that Christianity was the reason for the West's success, now we have an Indian philosopher who says the Bible created the soul of Western civilization and sees India's need for the "reforming power of the Bible".   

While Christianity is scorned and belittled by the secular elites in Europe and the USA, dynamic, growing,  forward-looking countries are seeing  Christianity and its positive impact on society more clearly.

Does the Bible Matter In the 21st Century?

The cancer at the heart of America’s political economy is cultural. This great nation was built by an ethic – a spirituality that taught citizens to work, earn, save, invest, and use their wealth to serve their neighbors. This biblical ethic has been replaced by secularism’s entitlement culture that teaches people that they have a right to this, that and the other without corresponding obligations to work, save, and serve. This new culture forces the state to take from productive citizens or borrow from other nations and spend it on man-made rights. This corruption of character is destroying the world’s greatest economy, but can democracy allow leaders to go against the voters’ voice?
---
The West became great because biblical monogamy harnessed sexual energy to build strong families, women, children, and men.

Human history knows no force other than the Bible that has the capacity to dam sexual energy to build powerful families and nations. Indeed, no non-biblical culture has ever been able to require husbands to “love your wives” and give them the spiritual resources to do so.

The author of this piece, Vishai Mangalwadi, an Indian philosopher, is also the author of "The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization" which will be published in May.

 Vishal Mangalwadi

From his website, his bio

Vishal Mangalwadi (1949-) is an international lecturer, social reformer, political columnist, and author of thirteen books. Born and raised in India, he studied philosophy at universities, in Hindu ashrams, and at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. In 1976 he turned down several job offers in the West to return to India where he and his wife, Ruth, founded a community to serve the rural poor. Vishal continued his involvement in community development serving at the headquarters of two national political parties, where he worked for the empowerment and liberation of peasants and the lower castes.
--
Vishal and Ruth are currently in the United States for the production of a television documentary, The Book of the Millennium: How the Bible Changed Civilization, a project inspired by Vishal and Ruth's recognition of India's need for the reforming power of the Bible.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 8, 2011

Facing criminal charges for called Chechan al-Qaeda leader a "terrorist"

 

In Finland, a Priest May Be Defrocked, Facing Criminal Charges for Calling Chechen al-Qaeda Leader a "Terrorist"

A priest in Finland faces being defrocked after describing one of the world’s most-wanted criminals as a ‘terrorist’. He was referring to Doku Umarov — the man behind the Moscow metro and airport bombings, among other crimes.

He received death threats and when he reported them to police, he was prosecuted for hate speech crimes. He is now considering moving to Russia because he believes it there is more liberty there than in politically correct Finland.

Juha Molari is not a Catholic priest, but a Lutheran one in a 'national church' supported by the state.
The Lutheran Church now wants to defrock him for promoting religious intolerance.

Doku Umarov is a Chechan Islamist leader in Russia who claimed responsibility for the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings (40 civilians killed) and the 2011 Moscow airport bombing  (36 civilians killed), injuring hundreds.  Called 'Russia's Bid Laden', the United Nations Security Council added him to the list of individuals associated with Al Qaeda.

Molari gave fiery speeches against the website Kavkaz Centre, the internet outlet for Doku Umarov, a site banned in Russia and many other European countries, a site where extremists freely air their views. 

After a death threat which promised to behead him and his family, Molari divorced his wife so she and his children could flee for safety. 

Johan Backman, the chairman of the Finnish-Caucasus Friendship Society, says the case reflects anti-Russian feeling in the EU.

“He has told the Finnish public the truth about the activities of Doku Umarov in Finland because in Finland, the information channel of terrorists, the so-called Kavkaz Center has been operating for several years without any kind of reaction from the government or officials of Finland,” Backman said. “Of course this raises questions about whether Finnish authorities and the government of Finland are promoting terrorism against Russia.”

Molari is also being sued for criticizing what Finland calls "a legally operating organization".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:01 PM | Permalink

April 6, 2011

""You have to go somewhere where there is sacred ground"

Walter Russell Mead on Life Beyond Blue: Faith and the Inner City

There are two big mistakes most Americans make about our inner city problems:  we believe that the troubles of the inner city are mostly about race, and we believe that they can be solved without God.

The failure of the blue social model to solve the problems of the underclass in America’s inner cities was one of the great tragedies of the last thirty years.  Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent; tens of millions of lives remained blighted, and a culture of violence, degradation and despair has taken hold among some of our society’s most vulnerable and needy people.  Generations of children are growing up in gangs; our scarce financial resources are being consumed by a grotesquely overbuilt prison system; whole segments of our population are unable to cope with even the simplest demands of modern life.
--
But technocratic fixes and government policy however wise and inspired cannot fix everything that is broken in the inner cities of the United States and abroad.  Drug addiction, cycles of violence and abuse, the prevalence and attraction of street gangs and the appeal of religious extremism are not the kinds of things that bureaucrats can do much about.
--
the hard truth is that unless someone reaches the lost generations in our inner city with powerful, life transforming messages, the dysfunctional cycles of violence, poverty and destruction will continue.  The people in our cities need the power to change their lives — and that kind of power, for most of the people most of the time in history, comes through transformational encounters with the power and the presence of God.
--
What I’ve learned from Gene lately is a new appreciation of the importance of the Black church in the redemption of the inner city.  Specifically, I’ve been learning about the importance of the Pentecostal churches.  Historically, the Pentecostal churches in the United States as elsewhere are strongly rooted among the poor.

To see the power of the gospel and the power of gospel music as an art form  and what it means in the lives of young teens who find a way to express their pain and to experience joy, you must watch 60 minutes which last week when Leslie Stahl looked at  Gospel for Teens, Part 1 and Part 2.

"You have to go somewhere where there is sacred ground, where there's hope, where there's  possibility, where there's a better life"    Exactly what gospel music, born in slavery,  was designed to provide in the first place.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

April 4, 2011

"Three dynamics interacted in a noxious fashion"

Greg Sheridan in The Australian speaks from his personal experience as he explains how he lost faith in multiculturalism

IN 1993, my family and I moved into Belmore in southwest Sydney....When I first moved there I loved it.
__
In the nearly 15 years we lived there the suburb changed, and much for the worse.

Three dynamics interacted in a noxious fashion: the growth of a macho, misogynist culture among young men that often found expression in extremely violent crime; a pervasive atmosphere of anti-social behaviour in the streets; and the simultaneous growth of Islamist extremism and jihadi culture.

This is my story, our story and the story of a failed policy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 PM | Permalink

April 1, 2011

Feminism and Multiculturalism

The bravest woman of the week is  the Pakistani actress Veena Malik who smacks down an Egyptian mullah who accuses her of immorality.

   

Susannah Fleetwood tells us why this viral video was A Seminal Moment for Feminism

Liberals seem to have an overwhelming tendency to downplay Islamic abuses towards women (as well as towards gays) under the guise of multiculturalism.

She quotes David Frum who wrote in Feminists need to admit that Western men are not the enemy,

Throughout Europe, women’s rights are regressing rather than advancing, as immigration from North Africa and the Middle East transforms European societies. Europeans have found it very difficult to demand that the newcomers adapt to local ways. So Europeans are adapting instead.

He asks whether today's feminists are

morally and intellectually capable of recognizing the dangers to women’s aspirations in the 21st century? Can they transcend their inherited ideology, and recognize that the best and only guarantee of women’s equality is Western liberal democratic capitalism? Will they accept critics of Third World misogyny — such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji — into the pantheon of feminism along with Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony and Simone de Beauvoir?
--
In short, can they accept that the irony of history has reoriented feminism into a fundamentally conservative movement? Or will their inherited ideological prejudices entrap them forever in a vanished world — dooming feminism to obsolescence and subjecting the dwindling rights of women to the aggressions of “multiculturalism”?

Geert Wilders speaks in Rome at the Magna Carta Foundation on The Failure of Multiculturalism and How to Turn the Tide

I am here today to talk about multiculturalism. This term has a number of different meanings. I use the term to refer to a specific political ideology. It advocates that all cultures are equal. If they are equal it follows that the state is not allowed to promote any specific cultural values as central and dominant. In other words: multiculturalism holds that the state should not promote a leitkultur, which immigrants have to accept if they want to live in our midst.

It is this ideology of cultural relativism which the German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently referred to when she said that multiculturalism has proved “an absolute failure.”

After quoting Winston Churchill writing in 1899, he  says

Churchill is right. However, if Europe falls, it will fall because, like ancient Rome, it no longer believes in the superiority of its own civilization. It will fall because it foolishly believes that all cultures are equal and that, consequently, there is no reason why we should fight for our own culture in order to preserve it.

This failure to defend our own culture has turned immigration into the most dangerous threat that can be used against the West. Multiculturalism has made us so tolerant that we tolerate the intolerant.
--
Islam is a totalitarian ideology. Islamic Shariah law supervises every detail of life. Islam is not compatible with our Western way of life. Islam is a threat to our values. Respect for people who think otherwise, the equality of men and women, the equality of homosexuals and heterosexuals, respect for Christians, Jews, unbelievers and apostates, the separation of church and state, freedom of speech, they are all under pressure because of islamization.

--
The multiculturalist Left is facilitating islamization. Leftist multiculturalists are cheering for every new shariah bank, for every new islamic school, for every new mosque. Multiculturalists consider Islam as being equal to our own culture. Shariah law or democracy? Islam or freedom? It doesn’t really matter to them. But it does matter to us. The entire leftist elite is guilty of practising cultural relativism. Universities, churches, trade unions, the media, politicians. They are all betraying our hard-won liberties.

A call to action.  A rallying cry for The Fight of Our Lives

Let us avoid.... suicide...We may soon find out whether we will take seriously our great moral and intellectual inheritance and so determine whether we indeed have the will, and the ability, to not only call this a war but to identify our enemy and to win it as well. Or, in the long run, will we be the authors of our own undoing?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 AM | Permalink

March 31, 2011

Jesus in Beijing

Christianity the reason for West's success, say the Chinese

In the West we are doing our best to destroy our Christian heritage but in China, Chinese intellectuals are coming around to the view that it is precisely this heritage that has made the West so successful.

Former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, Dominic Lawson, in a review in the Sunday Times of Niall Ferguson's new book, ‘Civilisation: The West and the Rest’, carries a quote from a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in which he tries to account for the success of the West, to date.

He said: “One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world.

“We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had.

“Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system.

“But in the past twenty years, we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful.

“The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.”

The source?

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,  an instrument of the Chinese Communist government which spends a not inconsiderable amount of time and money persecuting Christians and is officially atheistic.

I wrote about this in 2006 in Christians in China and drew quotes from an interview of David Aikma, the author of Jesus in Beijing.

I would like readers of Jesus in Beijing to grasp how Christianity, though assumed by many in the West to be outmoded and irrelevant to modern life, is regarded by many Chinese as the absolute key to a successful, peaceful, powerful modern China in the future.
----
Many concluded that it was Christian ethics and the dynamism of a faith based on a profound hope in the future and a belief that history was not cyclical, as Buddhism and even Confucianism proclaimed, but linear, and with a specific end goal.

Finally, Christians in the fine and performing arts have shown that there is a way out from the often-nihilistic cycle of modernism and postmodernism. This can be very attractive to artists who would prefer a hope-filled universe in which to develop their creative skills.
--
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.

In fact, there are now More Christians than Communists in China.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:40 PM | Permalink

March 29, 2011

"They have bet that such a society cannot survive"

Mark Steyn is back talking about push-up bras for eight-year-olds and why, as time goes by, there are no more  popular love songs among other things in Pushing Deviancy Up.

Islam will readily acknowledge our technological superiority: If you want to operate a no-fly zone over Benghazi or send an unmanned drone into Waziristan, we have the capability and they don't. The difference is that Islam thinks our technological superiority doesn't matter - because we're unmanned drones in a more basic sense: we believe in nothing except the most transitory and dreary self-gratification, an endless adolescence that begins with a push-up bra at eight and continues through free government condoms for 30-year olds. Not only do the surging Muslim populations in European cities have no wish to "assimilate" with such a culture, they do not believe they will have to - for they have bet that such a society cannot survive.

Are they right? A hyper-sexualized society becomes, paradoxically, sexless, and certainly joyless. Listening in recent weeks to young women in both New York and London complain that the men they meet would rather look at pictures of them naked on the Internet than actually see them naked in the same room reminded me of The Children Of Men, in which P D James' characters, liberated from human fertility, find sex too much trouble. Eight-year olds with fake breasts are almost too obvious a satirist's fancy for a last desperate transgression of the terminally jaded.

I ask myself all the time How did we get here?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:29 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 24, 2011

The continuing persecution of Christians - ho-hum

The ongoing, sometimes deadly, persecution of Christians continues unabated and few appear bothered, even when it is happening in the United States.    Freedom of religion is now being interpreted as freedom from religion.    Yet our founding fathers knew quite well that freedom to practice religion or not to practice religion at all was the essential foundation for civil society.

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other," John Adams

     

Out of every ten people, seven can not live their faith in freedom. The most persecuted religion is Christianity with at least 200 million people suffering from discrimination.  

The persecution is particularly acute in some countries with a Muslim majority.

Archbishop Warda: Iraq’s Christian History “Wiped From Collective Memory”

Archbishop Bashar Warda of northern Iraq did not mince words about the plight of Christians and other non-Muslims  in his country. Christians in Iraq face “near genocide” due only to their non-Muslim status as the Iraqi government muddies the waters of jurisprudence.
--
Since 2003, roughly a million Iraqi Christians have either fled their native homeland or been massacred. The damage wrought by Islamists has also taken its toll on Christian buildings dedicated to serving and uplifting the downtrodden....

The first Iraqi church was bombed in June, 2004 in Mosul. Following that event, successive campaigns have occurred and a total of 66 churches have been attacked or bombed; 41 in Baghdad, 19 in Mosul, 5 in Kirkuk and 1 in Ramadi. In addition, 2 convents, 1 monastery and a church orphanage was bombed.

Via my friend Gil Bailie in Islam is as Islam Does  is this  bloodstained image of Christ in the Church of Saints in Alexandria, Egypt, where a bomb went off at a  New Year's Eve service, killing 21 and wounding 70.

 Bloodstained Christ

He also points to George Marlin who examines The Forgotten: Christians Persecuted in the Middle East  in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, all countries with a Muslim majority where religious liberty does not have the value it does in Western countries.

A more subtle persecution of Christians is increasing here in the United States  as we can see when the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies 18- pro-family groups as "hate" groups  We're seeing an unfolding process of attempting to redefine Christian teaching on sex and marriage as racism

I used to have a residual respect for the ACLU, though I never knew the its founder Roger Baldwin was a Communist, "Communism is the goal."  But no more after reading ACLU vs. Religious Liberty

An ACLU-crafted Consent Decree has been used as a weapon to threaten school district employees with fines and jail time for merely praying over a meal, and for exercising -- even while away from school -- their sincerely held Christian faith. You read that right. The ACLU is literally seeking to criminalize Christianity.

In August of 2009, Liberty Counsel successfully defended staff member Michelle Winkler from contempt charges brought by the ACLU after her husband, who is not even employed by the district, offered a meal prayer at a privately sponsored event in a neighboring county.
--
During witness testimony, Mrs. Winkler sobbed as she described how she and a coworker, who had recently lost a child, literally had to hide in a closet to pray.

Fortunately, Federal District Court Judge Casey Rogers granted in part a preliminary injunction

Judge Rodgers concluded that even though "a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy," one aspect of the Consent Decree -- its attempt to prohibit school employees from fully participating in private religious events -- is so flawed that it must be immediately halted.

The Court thus enjoined the School Board "from enforcing any school policy that restrains in any way an employee's participation in, or speech or conduct during, a private religious service, including baccalaureate" pending a trial on the merits. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:40 PM | Permalink

February 26, 2011

The Killer Apps of Western Civilization

A most interesting interview with Niall Ferguson in the Guardian on the occasion of his soon-to-be published  book Civilization.

       Niall-Ferguson

'Westerners don't understand how vulnerable freedom is'

Civilization sets out to answer a question that Ferguson identifies as the "most interesting" facing historians of the modern era: "Why, beginning around 1500, did a few small polities on the western end of the Eurasian landmass come to dominate the rest of the world?" In other words, the book attempts to explain the roots of something – western power – that has long fascinated its author.

The killer 'apps' are the ideas that propelled the West to world domination:

1. Competition
2. Science
3. Property
4. Modern science
5. Consumption
6. Work ethic

His personal relationship with Ayaan Hirsi Ali to whom the book is dedicated has clearly influenced him.

"Ayaan comes from a completely different civilisation," he says, explaining what he meant by saying she knows what western civilisation "really means". "She grew up in the Muslim world, was born in Somalia, spent time in Saudi Arabia, was a fundamentalist as a teenager. Her journey from the world of her childhood and family to where she is today is an odyssey that's extremely hard for you or I to imagine. To see and hear how she understands western philosophy, how she understands the great thinkers of the Enlightenment, of the 19th-century liberal era, is a great privilege, because she sees it with a clarity and freshness of perspective that's really hard for us to match. So much of liberalism in its classical sense is taken for granted in the west today and even disrespected. We take freedom for granted, and because of this we don't understand how incredibly vulnerable it is."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

February 3, 2011

The Immateriality of Wealth

The most crucial elements of a successful culture and a prosperous society are "intangible, immaterial, spiritual" argues Jay Richards, in The American,

His Top Ten Ways to Alleviate Poverty show The Immateriality of Wealth.

1) Establish and maintain the rule of law.

2) Focus the jurisdiction of government primarily on maintaining the rule of law, and limit its jurisdiction over the economy and the institutions of civil society.

3) Implement a formal property system with consistent and accessible means for securing a clear title to property one owns.

4) Encourage economic freedom.

5) Encourage stable families and other important private institutions which mediate between the individual and the state.

6) Encourage belief in the truth that the universe is purposeful and makes sense.

7) Encourage the right cultural mores.

8) Instill a proper understanding of the nature of wealth creation and poverty.

9) Focus on cultivating your comparative advantage rather than protecting what used to be your comparative advantage.

10) Work hard.

There is a striking correlation between societies that exhibit these traits, or some subset of them, and the large-scale wealth creation. But notice that only one of them describes a material good. All the others are intangible, immaterial, spiritual. You can’t find economic freedom or cultural mores on a map or put them in a safe. You can’t bottle diligence or weigh the ingredients for stable families and voluntary institutions on a scale. These goods involve beliefs, social conventions, institutions, commitments, virtues, and creativity.

In 2006, the World Bank released a study - Where is the Wealth of Nations? - highlighting the importance of "intangible wealth" as distinct from "natural capital" and "produced capital" with a snapshot of wealth for 120 countries at the turn of the millennium.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 PM | Permalink

January 4, 2011

"Permanence is the illusion of every age"

In The New Criterion, Mark Steyn decries the erosion of personal liberty, the loss of cultural inheritance and the debauching of human capital in Dependence Day.

What happens when, as a matter of state policy, you debauch your human capital? The United Kingdom has the highest drug use in Europe, the highest incidence of sexually transmitted disease, the highest number of single mothers; marriage is all but defunct, except for toffs, upscale gays, and Muslims. For Americans, the quickest way to understand modern Britain is to look at what lbj’s Great Society did to the black family and imagine it applied to the general population. One-fifth of British children are raised in homes in which no adult works. Just under 900,000 people have been off sick for over a decade, claiming “sick benefits,” week in, week out, for ten years and counting. “Indolence,” as Machiavelli understood, is the greatest enemy of a free society, but rarely has any state embraced this oldest temptation as literally as Britain. There is almost nothing you can’t get the government to pay for.

--

After Big Government, after global retreat, after the loss of liberty, there is only remorseless civic disintegration.

-- Permanence is the illusion of every age. But you cannot wage a sustained ideological assault on your own civilization without profound consequence.

---

In our time, to be born a citizen of the United States is to win first prize in the lottery of life, and, as Britons did, too many Americans assume it will always be so. Do you think the laws of God will be suspended in favor of America because you were born in it? Great convulsions lie ahead, and at the end of it we may be in a post-Anglosphere world.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:28 PM | Permalink

January 3, 2011

Sliding into anarchy

It may seem incredible to some that the children no longer play soccer on the streets as before. Now they pretend to be assassins. They form teams, just as before, but now they arm their mini commando units to engage in imaginary battles that perhaps in the future will be their reality.

The girls too form part of this game, leaving their dolls to the side to turn themselves into assassins. Some are even the commanders in these play groups of children.

The drug cartels are taking over Mexico amid escalating violence and corruption. Close to 40,000 Mexicans have been killed by drug violence in the past four years.

A nation sharing a border with the U.S. descending into anarchy is a frightful thought for Americans, and the obvious implications of such an event should be causing concern throughout the halls of the White House and the State Department.

Failed State Watch: How Much Longer for Mexico?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 PM | Permalink

Resist the eclipse of reason, preserve the capacity to see the essential, the very future of the world is at stake

Theodore Darlrymple calls Pope Benedict, the "George Orwell of our time".

A great deal of the hostility to the Pope’s visit was likewise caused by his having been right, at least in some things, such as the insufficiency of consumerist materialism as a basis for a satisfactory existence. There are few human types less attractive, surely, than failed materialists, which is what the British, or at least so many of them, now are. They consume without discrimination what they have not earned: which is why many of them are so grotesquely fat as well as so deeply indebted. Indeed, there is scarcely any kind of debt or deficit to which we as a nation have not resorted in order to continue (at least for a time) on our vulgar and degraded way. A nation that behaves thus is quite without honour or self-respect, collective or individual. All this Benedict XVI has seen with a perfectly clear eye; and if what George Orwell once wrote, that we have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men, we might even call the Pope the George Orwell of our time.

The Pope is becoming more prophetic, even more apocalyptic . In his Christmas address to the Roman curia he calls to mind

the decline of the Roman empire

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. [Awaken your power Lord and come] Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.

----

For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.

addresses the clergy sex abuse crisis again in all its gravity

when in this year of all years [The Year for Priests] and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.

--

Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again

puts it in context,

We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity.

-

In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.

seeks its ultimate ideological source

In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.

He talks about an awareness of shared responsibility at this moment in history

Alexis de Tocqueville, in his day, observed that democracy in America had become possible and had worked because there existed a fundamental moral consensus which, transcending individual denominations, united everyone. Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk wherever its place, the place of moral reasoning, is taken by the purely instrumental rationality of which I spoke earlier. In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will.

The very future of the world is at stake.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:50 AM | Permalink

November 26, 2010

"The Euro Game is Up!"





He's a member of the European Parliament, a Euro-skeptic from Great Britain by name of Nigel Farage.
Here's part of what he said

Untold millions must suffer so that your euro dream can continue. Well it won't work, because it's Portugal next. With their debt levels of 325 percent of GDP they are the next ones on the list, and after that I suspect it will be Spain, and the bailout for Spain would be 7 times the size of Ireland, and at that moment all the bailout money has gone - there won't be any more.

But it's even more serious than economics, because if you rob people of their identity, if you rob them of their democracy, then all they are left with is nationalism and violence. I can only hope and pray that the euro project is destroyed by the markets before that really happens.
The Daily Express has become the first national newspaper to call for Britain to leave the European Union. Britain is Better Off Out.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:25 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2010

The Bloodlands

In the New York Review of Books, Anne Applebaum reviews two new books in The Worst of the Madness.   Even from this distance in time it's hard to fathom how civilized European societies descended into such paroxysms of murderous violence and depravity.

Once, in an attempt to explain the history of his country to outsiders, the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz described the impact of war, occupation, and the Holocaust on ordinary morality. Mass violence, he explained, could shatter a man’s sense of natural justice. In normal times, had he stumbled upon a corpse on the street, he would have called the police. A crowd would have gathered, and much talk and comment would have ensued. Now he knows he must avoid the dark body lying in the gutter, and refrain from asking unnecessary questions….

---

For all of these reasons, Miłosz explained, “the man of the East cannot take Americans [or other Westerners] seriously.” Because they hadn’t undergone such experiences, they couldn’t seem to fathom what they meant, and couldn’t seem to imagine how they had happened either. “Their resultant lack of imagination,” he concluded, “is appalling."

The title of this book, Bloodlands, is not a metaphor. ...This is the region that experienced not one but two—and sometimes three—wartime occupations. This is also the region that suffered the most casualties and endured the worst physical destruction....This is the region that experienced the worst of both Stalin’s and Hitler’s ideological madness.....

This region was also the site of most of the politically motivated killing in Europe—killing that began not in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, but in 1933, with the famine in Ukraine. Between 1933 and 1945, fourteen million people died there, not in combat but because someone made a deliberate decision to murder them.

If nothing else, a reassessment of what we know about Europe in the years between 1933 and 1953 could finally cure us of that “lack of imagination” that so appalled Czesław Miłosz almost sixty years ago. When considered in isolation, Auschwitz can be easily compartmentalized, characterized as belonging to a specific place and time, or explained away as the result of Germany’s unique history or particular culture. But if Auschwitz was not the only mass atrocity, if mass murder was simultaneously taking place across a multinational landscape and with the support of many different kinds of people, then it is not so easy to compartmentalize or explain away.


;Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin" (Timothy Snyder)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:51 PM | Permalink

“The real crisis in Britain is the destruction of human relationships, the foundation of society.”

Called England's "red Tory" and a "philosopher king"  Philip Blond believes Both Left and Right Have Broken Britain  and How We Can Fix It the title of his new book.

“The Right is exclusively pro-market and the Left is proscribing everything but the state. They are now no longer sustainable positions.”
--
Blond differs from most other critics of capitalism is in trying to reunite economics with ethics and in seeing social and economic problems as symbiotic.
--
Part of Blond’s mission is to restore economics to its roots, for it is impossible to separate economic decline and social breakdown.

“The real crisis in Britain is the destruction of human relationships, the foundation of society,” he says. “And that’s what’s right with the Broken Britain thesis. It’s a loss of human society. The poorer you are, the lonelier you are, the more costs you incur for the state, because human sociability is linked with wealth, health and all sorts of indicators from mental illness to obesity.

“The crisis in human relationships is shown in the way men treat women and women treat men, and how we treat our children. Now we’re getting to the situation where nearly half of all British children will be born outside of marriage, and the longevity of the relationships they’re born into is a third less than if they were married. We are reproducing an atomised society. That is a genuine social disaster.”
--
“We’ve killed history in our country. These people, often university educated, have literally a sophomoric understanding of British history. In fact, it’s not even that good. They have no grasp of their own recent history or their own future.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:46 PM | Permalink

October 12, 2010

History of the Future

I just want to note that the Muslim Brotherhood has declared war on the United States.

The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has endorsed (Arabic) (English translation by MEMRI) anti-American Jihad and pretty much every element in the al-Qaida ideology book. Since the Brotherhood is the main opposition force in Egypt and Jordan as well as the most powerful group, both politically and religiously, in the Muslim communities of Europe and North America this is pretty serious stuff.
--

Does that mean the Egyptian, Jordanian, and all the camouflaged Muslim Brotherhood fronts in Europe and North America are going to launch terrorism as one of their affiliates, Hamas, has long done? No.

But it does mean that something awaited for decades has happened: the Muslim Brotherhood is ready to move from the era of propaganda and base-building to one of revolutionary action.
----
In August 1996, al-Qaida declared war on America, the West, Christians and Jews. Nobody important paid much attention to this. Almost exactly five years later, September 11 forced them to notice. Let it be said that
in September 2010 the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with one hundred times more activists than al-Qaida, issued its declaration of war. What remains is the history of the future.

Thanks Michael Totten

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:43 PM | Permalink

The First Atheistic Civilization

Vaclav Havel at the opening session of 14th session of Forum 2000 in Prague warns that the world is heading towards catastrophe due to pride.

We are living in the first truly global civilisation. That means that whatever comes into existence on its soil can very quickly and easily span the whole world.

But we are also living in the first atheistic civilisation, in other words, a civilisation that has lost its connection with the infinite and eternity. For that reason it prefers short-term profit to long-term profit. What is important is whether an investment will provide a return in ten or fifteen years; how it will affect the lives of our descendants in a hundred years is less important.
--

But with the cult of measurable profit, proven progress and visible usefulness there disappears respect for mystery and along with it humble reverence for everything we shall never measure and know, not to mention the vexed question of the infinite and eternal, which were until recently the most important horizons of our actions.

We have totally forgotten what all previous civilisations knew: that nothing is self-evident.

--
Wonder and an awareness that things are not self-evident are, I believe, the only way out of the dangerous world of a civilisation of pride.
--

Perhaps someone, just a few hundred light years away from our planet, is looking at us through a perfect telescope. What do they see? They see the Thirty Years War. For that reason alone it holds true that everything is here all the time, that nothing that has happened can unhappen, and that with our every word or movement we are making the cosmos different – forever - from what it was before.

In all events, I am certain that our civilisation is heading for catastrophe unless present-day humankind comes to its senses. And it can only come to its senses if it grapples with its short-sightedness, its stupid conviction of its omniscience and its swollen pride, which have been so deeply anchored in its thinking and actions.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:30 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2010

The most fundamental question of the modern age

James Schall reflects on Pope Benedict's visit to Britain and the question he left us all to ponder, "The Ultimate Meaning of Our Human Existence."

On reflecting on this visit, no Briton, I think, whatever be the fame of English practicality, can help but wonder, if he has not before, "What is the ultimate meaning of our existence?" He did not have this question addressed to him in the Times or the Guardian but in the reflections of Benedict XVI, the Successor to Peter. It is still the most fundamental question of the modern age.

More rippling effects of Benedict's visit come from the venerable Bede,  English, atheist and blogger, who subjects Richard Dawkins to a serious intellectual flogging for his speech at the Protest the Pope Rally in London which Bede calls a "miserable performance".

One other thing announces itself with curious clarity in Dawkins's diatribe, and that's his resentment at Ratzinger being acclaimed as an important intellectual.

The only way to dispute Ratzinger's stature as a major intellect is to refuse to listen to anything he has to say; the only way to deny that his view of modern society's ills is cogent and valid is to deny his central thesis, and cling to the 'everything is wonderful in our secular paradise' mantra that Dawkins and all the rest so shamefully endorse.

Ratzinger is a bigger thinker, a better thinker, because he starts from the premise that there is something deeply wrong: the grown-up's premise.

To merely accept this as a starting base takes courage, but without doing so nothing can be achieved. A world view - still more one that assumes entitlement to authority - that does not begin from this base is dangerous, cowardly and irrelevant.

If, like me, you don't like some of Ratzinger's answers then great - let the civilised adult debate begin. But if you'd rather attach condoms to an umbrella and parade through London with a bunch of dipsticks you rule yourself out of all serious consideration. Ratzinger is asking for a debate on some big subjects, and the best these supposed intellectual heavyweights can do is call him names, ignore the questions, and congratulate each other as the waters rise around their ugly necks.

He would trust the Pope before Dawkins.

But compare Ratzinger's rigorous analysis of the "loss of an awareness of intangible moral values" in a culture that "sees in its own history only what is blameworthy and destructive [and] is no longer capable of perceiving what is great and pure" with the ghastly fluffy-bunny 'consciousness raising' of Dawkins's recent sermons and decide for yourself in whose hands your future would be safer.

Britain Gobsmacked by Pope Benedict

At a conference in Rome this evening, barrister and president of Britain’s Catholic Union, Jamie Bogle, told me, “The secular atheist liberals and their friends in the media are going to take a long time to get over this visit. Because they thought they were on a winner. They thought they were going to, if not arrest the pope, at least seriously embarrass him.

“And this little guy in white just flattened them. His gentle, calm, soft-spoken approach just won everybody over. And the demonstrations faded away.”

--
The pope’s addresses, delivered barely above a whisper, made his detractors look “ridiculous, like children throwing their toys out of the pram because they couldn’t have their own way.” And today the pope’s opponents are left with little to say. “They’re nonplussed and confused” Fr. Allan said, “astonished.” “They didn’t expect people to respond as they have done.”

“They don’t understand why the British people listened to him. Why they wanted to see him. Everything the pope said is outside their mindset.”

The pope’s messages, that Christianity has a foundational place in the building of a just society, one that cannot be suppressed without destroying the foundations of freedom, were delivered fearlessly but gently, in a tone that one had to strain to hear and with an accent one had to concentrate to understand.

“He was just stating the truth,” Fr. Allan said. “It’s really swept people off their feet.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 PM | Permalink

September 30, 2010

The War Next Door

Investors Business Daily asks Anyone Notice The War Next Door?

Mexico's war against drug and alien-smuggling cartels grows ever more similar to the horrors of Afghanistan and Iraq. Beheadings, stonings, car bombs and terrorist attacks speak to a lust for power every bit as implacable as that of the Afghanistan's Taliban or the insurgents of Iraq.

The cartels may seem to be just a police problem, but Mexico's own officials know better: President Felipe Calderon warns that everything about their actions says they mean to take over.

But even with such a nearby threat, there are no U.S. crisis task forces or special envoys. The Northern Command hasn't been bolstered. The unbuilt border fence is one excuse after another, hostage to domestic and electoral politics.
--
Does anyone care that a cartel has threatened to destroy a dam in Texas? Oregon officials report huge new cartel marijuana fields on a scale never seen earlier.

The Los Angeles Police Department even warns that five cartels have set up logistics operations in America's second-largest city.
--
On Monday, another small-town Mexican mayor, Gustavo Sanchez of Tancitaro, was shot dead by cartels for firing corrupt officials. It was the fifth murder of a mayor in five weeks.
--
In Juarez, across the river from El Paso, Texas, the death toll since 2006 tops 6,000, while deaths in the entire country have surpassed 29,000. The latest outrage was the murder of a 6-year-old girl. She was murdered as she slept in her bed Monday, shot point-blank in the face by a cartel gunman.

Over 230,000 residents of Juarez, population 1.3 million, have fled for their lives from cartels, a citizens group reported last week, with 54% of them gone to El Paso.

This sure gives an added dimension to the issue of border security.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

September 22, 2010

"There is no more Molly Norris"

Molly Norris didn't die.  She disappeared.  They call it "going ghost"

Molly Norris, a cartoonist for the Seattle Weekly, has disappeared on the advice of the FBI.  She became famous because she ventured  to lampoon the self-censorship of Comedy Central who pulled an episode that depicted the prophet  Mohammed disguising himself in a bear suit after threats by Islamist -- by suggesting an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day".

For that , Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, you know the one who inspired the Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hassan and the man accused of attempting to blow up a US jetliner over Detroit of Christmas Day issued a fatwa, essentially publicly ordered that she be executed, saying her "proper abode is Hellfire".

Diana West reports on this "message from an outpost of the Civilization formerly noted as Western."

The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, “going ghost”: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity.

Very little attention is being paid to what is not unlike a death.    No one seems to be grieving the giving up of her life as the price Molly Norris paid  for exercising her First Amendment rights as a citizen living in the United States. 

The Washington Examiner editorializes:

Freedom of speech and press are in deep trouble when the American government thinks the best it can do to protect a journalist from death threats is to counsel her to go into hiding, and when the elite voices of American journalism can't be bothered to say anything in her defense. But it's actually worse than that.

So why is nobody talking about what's happening to Molly Norris asks Jim Treacher.

Yeah, isn’t that weird? Some dummy in Florida threatened to burn some books — not kill anybody, not even give anybody a bloody nose, but burn some books in a stupid, spiteful gesture — and it was a media firestorm for a whole week. Even the President of the United States felt the need to condemn it. But now we’ve got an American citizen who doesn’t feel safe in her own home because she drew a cartoon, and apparently all those same people are fine with it.

We’re supposed to apologize to the entire Muslim world whenever a single one of them might have hurt feelings. Somehow, if a Muslim feels slighted, that’s a violation of the First Amendment and proof that America isn’t America anymore. Meanwhile, this woman has been silenced under threat of death for exercising her First Amendment rights, and… Crickets. No big deal.

It's time indeed, as the Examiner editorializes, for this generation of American journalists to show more courage.

The reality is that the FBI fought the KKK at every turn, including when it threatened brave Southern newspaper editors who stood up against racism and violence. And from the start, journalists were prominent figures in the civil rights movement, courageously reporting the truth about the crushing stranglehold of segregation on life and liberty across the old South, often at risk of their very lives. It's time the present generation of American journalists found the same brand of courage many of their fathers showed in the 1960s.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:51 AM | Permalink

September 16, 2010

"Benedict XVI is looking for allies in what he believes is a war for the soul of Europe"

While Pope John Paul II did visit England nearly 30 years ago in a "pastoral visit",  today Pope Benedict XVI begins the first official state visit of a Pope to Scotland and England.

CNN asks a reasonable question, Why is he going?  Terry Mattingly at Get Religon writes

To cut to the chase: Benedict XVI is looking for allies in what he believes is a war for the soul of Europe.

The British blogger known as Archbishop Cranmer welcomes the Pope despite what appears to be an aggressive anti-Catholic and anti-Christian atmosphere.

For Pope Benedict XVI comes to the United Kingdom at a time when the Christian conscience is besieged, the national church cowed and our liberties undermined in ways they have not been for centuries. Nurses dare not pray or wear a crucifix; teachers dare not mention Jesus and the school receptionist dare not ask for prayer. If you work for BA, turbans, karas and hijabs are fine, but don’t even think about wearing a cross. Christians are no longer free to be foster parents, registrars, hotel owners or B&B proprietors. Bishops may no longer uphold orthodoxy, street preachers may not quote Scripture, and adoption agencies must act against their conscience or close.

Elizabeth Scalia, best known as the Anchoress, wrote about the Twentieth Century's Last Great Figures earlier this week.

Both Elizabeth and Benedict have seen war and its woeful aftermath, up close. They have watched totalitarian regimes advance and decline, and seen religion used as a justification for slaughter. They know what the rhetorical jackboot sounds like and how seamlessly it can advance; they can speak to our time, if we let them.
--
Elizabeth and Benedict, despite obvious differences, may take some comfort in each other’s brief company. Almost no one on the planet knows what they know; perhaps no one in current leadership can see and–with the eloquence born of experience–speak to past and future days, from their lonely thrones and balconies.

And sure enough, the Pope in his comments before the Queen who gave him a state welcome at the Palace of HolyRoodHouse in Edinburgh, offered his hand in friendship to the U.K.said

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives.

As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a "reductive vision of the person and his destiny"

 Pope Holyrood

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 4, 2010

Mexican cartels control movement in southern Arizona

Will this report stir any one in Washington to defend the territorial integrity of our country?

Arizona Sheriff Says Mexican Cartels Now Control Some Parts of the State

The Washington Times reports that the state of Arizona has essentially ceded parts of the southern border to Mexican drug cartels in what — we hope — is a tactical retreat:

The federal government has posted signs along a major interstate highway in Arizona, more than 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, warning travelers the area is unsafe because of drug and alien smugglers, and a local sheriff says Mexican drug cartels now control some parts of the state.

The signs were posted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend, a major east-west corridor linking Tucson and Phoenix with San Diego.

They warn travelers that they are entering an “active drug and human smuggling area” and they may encounter “armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed.” Beginning less than 50 miles south of Phoenix, the signs encourage travelers to “use public lands north of Interstate 8″ and to call 911 if they “see suspicious activity.”

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose county lies at the center of major drug and alien smuggling routes to Phoenix and cities east and west, attests to the violence. He said his deputies are outmanned and outgunned by drug traffickers in the rough-hewn desert stretches of his own county.

Mexican drug cartels literally do control parts of Arizona,” he said. “They literally have scouts on the high points in the mountains and in the hills and they literally control movement. They have radios, they have optics, they have night-vision goggles as good as anything law enforcement has.


Daniel Foster who posted the above piece refers to another written by  Deroy Murdock in July,
Bullets across the U.S / Mexican border.

Descriptionbordersigninaziv

American citizens, therefore, are supposed to steer clear of a section of our nation from I-8 to the Mexican border. Brewer campaign spokesman Doug Cole outlined this area for me on a map. He says it runs from this sign’s location — about 12 miles east of Gila Bend — to Casa Grande, and then due south from both of those points to the frontier. By my calculation, these lines in the sand define a trapezoid that covers roughly 3,600 square miles. In other words, the Obama administration has deemed that a region larger than Delaware and Rhode Island, combined, is too treacherous for Americans to visit.

“Ceding that enormous portion of the United States to the bad guys basically is the federal government saying, ‘We don’t have control of our own territory. You’re on your own. Good luck!’” says Cole. This would be bad enough if the no-go zone were just inside the frontier. In fact, it stretches some 80 miles north of the border, and, as Governor Brewer points out, the area includes “important natural recreational destinations.” She adds: “Signs do not protect our border. Let’s protect Americans, not just warn them.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:55 PM | Permalink

Restoring the culture we once took for granted

It's been a week since the "Restoring Honor" in Washington and these are the two most telling pieces of the mountains that have been written. 

Mollie Hemingway in Ricochet on Taking out the trash

I have attended dozens of rallies and marches -- anti-war, pro-life, pro-choice, anti-circumcision, you name it.

And I saw something so shocking yesterday, that I had to stop and take a picture.

Molly's Picture

As my husband and two children and I were headed back on our long walk home, we saw women tying extra garbage bags onto trash receptacles. I noticed that they had already hit the other trash cans on our way out. And other folks were collecting extra trash into other bags. It was already surprising how little trash there was in the general area. Normally a crowd that size can have quite a bit of trash. But what type of American thinks to bring extra trash bags to help keep refuse from being spread out and about? I know many in the media are trying to sell the idea that the Americans who attended this rally are dangers to society, but that simple trash vignette speaks volumes, doesn't it?

The second is by Timothy Dalrymple, Have We Squandered Our Cultural Inheritance?

Whatever else Beck has right or wrong -- and I confess I have never watched or listened to him much -- it seems to me that he is correctly interpreting the present moment. Which is no small matter.
--
What does he get? Beck gets that there is a deeply and urgently felt conviction emerging organically across a broad swath of the American populace that the spectacular economic and political collapses of recent years were made possible -- even inevitable -- by a much longer Great Moral Decline.
--
This is not an exclusively religious concern. Even secular scholars have long recognized that America's Judeo-Christian heritage supplied a set of ideals and principles -- such as the Protestant work-ethic and strong commitments to honesty, integrity, and compassion -- that encouraged and reinforced the habits and qualities that tend to help democracies and free markets flourish.
--
Not at all. The sociological concept of a "cultural inheritance" is helpful here. A cultural inheritance is a set of values and beliefs, habits and practices handed down through generations within a single culture. Cultural inheritance partly explains, for instance, why a high percentage of Asian-American children, who inherit from their culture strong emphases on and helpful habits in education, diligence, and financial responsibility, perform well academically and build strong professional and financial foundations. Likewise, for centuries the vast majority of children born in America inherited a culture permeated with Christian stories, wisdom, and values.
--
The deep concern across the United States appears to be that we have squandered our cultural inheritance. We have exchanged the extraordinary treasury of Judeo-Christian stories, values, and wisdom that sustained us for generations in favor of the cheap culture of corruption, indolence, and dissolution that has swiftly bankrupted our economy and our government.

We see this in The Generation That Can't Move On Up

The grim employment picture is familiar, but what's less widely known is that they are losing not only jobs but also their connections to basic social institutions such as marriage and religion. They're becoming socially disengaged, floating away from the college-educated middle class.

To see this illustrated, look at the photos at Then and Now, Part Two.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

Blackmail and a warning to the West

Last week, Col Muammar Gaddafi came to Italy and warned that Europe will 'turn black' unless EU pays Libya 4 billion pounds a year to block the arrival of illegal immigrants from Africa.

"Tomorrow Europe might no longer be European and even black as there are millions who want to come in," he said.

"We don't know if Europe will remain an advanced and united continent or if it will be destroyed, as happened with the barbarian invasions".

His remarks were condemned by Italian MPs who called it "unacceptable blackmail" and compared it to the protection money that mafia gangs demand from businesses.

But, according to the Guardian, the EU is keen to strike deal with Gaddafi on immigration.

In France, 'Islamization' of Paris a Warning to the West.

A hidden camera shows streets blocked by huge crowds of Muslim worshippers and enforced by a private security force.

This is all illegal in France: the public worship, the blocked streets, and the private security. But the police have been ordered not to intervene.

It shows that even though some in the French government want to get tough with Muslims and ban the burqa, other parts of the French government continue to give Islam a privileged status
.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2010

The New Evangelization to Save Western Civilization

Sandro Magister yesterday writes of a remarkable and important speech by Archbishop Chaput in When the Tribunal of the World Condemns the Church.
There are truths that the dominant culture sees as subversive: on life, the family, sexuality. American archbishop Chaput explains why, and calls Christians to a great battle of resistance. "Only the truth can set men free"
---
With respect to the past, the shift represented by the new course of the Church in the United States consists, on the terrain of politics, of abandoning the "Kennedy doctrine," the doctrine of a rigid separation between Church and state, the effect of which – according to its critics – is the privatization of religious belief in the isolation of the conscience and its elimination from the public sphere.
--
And it is against this offensive that Archbishop Chaput is calling Catholics to "resistance." Against the reigning "relativism" that preaches tolerance but in reality produces oppression.
.
But Chaput's appeal is not only defensive. It is above all proactive. And it is connected to the master plan of Benedict XVI's pontificate, for a "new evangelization" of the regions of the world in which Christianity is at risk of being extinguished.

Chaput's speech is entitled Living Within the Truth: Religious Liberty and Catholic Mission in the New Order of the World.
Today, in an era of global interconnection, the challenges that confront Catholics in America are much the same as in Europe: We face an aggressively secular political vision and a consumerist economic model that result – in practice, if not in explicit intent – in a new kind of state-encouraged atheism. [...]
The West is now steadily moving in the direction of that new “inhuman humanism.” And if the Church is to respond faithfully, we need to draw upon the lessons that your Churches learned under totalitarianism. A Catholicism of resistance must be based on trust in Christ’s words: “The truth will make you free” (John 8:32). [...] and --Living within the truth also means telling the truth and calling things by their right names. And that means exposing the lies by which some men try to force others to live.

Two of the biggest lies in the world today are these: first, that Christianity was of relatively minor importance in the development of the West; and second, that Western values and institutions can be sustained without a grounding in Christian moral principles. [...]

Downplaying the West’s Christian past is sometimes done with the best intentions, from a desire to promote peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic society. But more frequently it’s done to marginalize Christians and to neutralize the Church’s public witness.

The Church needs to name and fight this lie. To be a European or an American is to be heir to a profound Christian synthesis of Greek philosophy and art, Roman law, and biblical truth. This synthesis gave rise to the Christian humanism that undergirds all of Western civilization.
[...]
--
We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates.
--
I would argue that the defense of Western ideals is the only protection that we and our neighbors have against a descent into new forms of repression – whether it might be at the hands of extremist Islam or secularist technocrats.


Read the whole thing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2010

The Effect of the Rage Against God

Peter Hitchens, brother of Christopher, in a very interesting interview by Hugh Hewitt

He asks a penetrating question to atheists, the major theme of his new book:
"The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith" (Peter Hitchens)
they want there not to be a God. And I think that we would get so much further with them if we insisted in every discussion where they actually deign to talk to us, and treat us as so surfeit that is not to be worth talking to, that we concentrate it upon this question, which I notice the very interesting atheist philosopher, Thomas Nagel admits as crucial. Why do they so much want there not to be a God?

He sees the decline of Britain the result of the receding tide of Christianity.

HH: You were saying, Peter, at the break that Methodism in its turn of the century rise around the 1800s powered a great age in Great Britain, and then the draining away of Christianity has powered the collapse of the edifice of that great age?

PH: We had this extraordinary combination, which very few nations and civilizations achieve of order and liberty. And people were free. There was no oppressive state. We were very lightly policed. The law did not weigh heavily on our shoulders. We weren’t told to do much. But we actually behaved ourselves, because as a people, we knew that there would be reasons to do so. And our language is full of Biblical allusion. And our music, certainly at that stage, also full of the great hymns of the English Church. Everybody’s minds were full of the injunctions of Christianity, and it was believed. I…there are many arguments about how its end came. I tend to think that the 1914-1918 war was probably the great blow to it, and a number of other institutions in our country. But since then, it has been in decline. And once people stopped believing in it, and become practical atheists, they’re not Dawkins, I’d say. They don’t go on and on about being atheists. They just are, and they are atheists in their everyday life. They believe that might is right, and they either act on it by being strong and frightening other people, or they act on it by being frightened, and having no recourse. There is absolutely nothing but force in the lives of many people in our country now.

Later he remarks on the explicitly non-Christian nature of the European Union.

And you’ll possibly remember the case of Signor Buttiglione, the Italian who wanted high office in the European Union, was excluded form it because he was specifically Roman Catholic. The European Union is an overtly, explicitly anti-Christian, or not exactly anti-Christian, but non-Christian body.

Altogether, the failure of the liberal experiment of the left and the waning of the effect of Christian faith on the poor is enormous .

unless we get some kind of grip on ourselves, unless particularly people begin to realize that the great left liberal experiment has failed on its own terms…what worries my particularly is the intelligent and educated people of my country are, by and large, still determined to pursue a series of ideas which can be shown to have failed. ...they’re so profoundly uninterested in the minutiae of how society operates. ..., they’re always writing about grandiose subjects like foreign policy and resistance to Islam and so forth. Well, okay, fine. These things are important. But you never, ever see them discussing how our society functions, and what’s happening, particularly what’s happening to the poor.... everything has to be grandiose and never actually focuses on what’s happening to the person struggling to get his children through schools when the schools are bad. What’s happening to the person trying to raise honest children in a dishonest, crime-ridden neighborhood? What’s happening to somebody who’s trying to keep his marriage going when all the laws of divorce and property are designed to undermine that marriage? What’s happening to people who are trying to keep their children away from dugs when the whole of our culture, all the rock music and all the movies, and all the jokes, and half of the stuff that’s pumped out in the education system says drugs are okay? These disastrous things are going on all the time, and nobody in the elite seems to be aware of the awful damage being done to millions and millions of individual lives by it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:33 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2010

Demography is Destiny


Demography and Economic Destiny

Why the global economic crisis is really about old age—and how to encourage prosperous countries to have more children.
Perhaps there is an economic system that can preserve prosperity even in the face of an aging, stagnating population, but it has not yet been devised. It is no coincidence that modern industrial capitalism emerged amid the population explosion of late 18th-century England or that it flourished most in the rapidly growing United States. A young, growing population creates more demand for products and a larger supply of labor. By encouraging people to look for more efficient ways to provide food, energy, and other essentials, it also spurs innovation and entrepreneurism.

Here's two more:

Can Europe Survive Its Population Plunge?

Europe is dying. The Washington Post, among others, reports that, within a hundred years, there will be the rare German in Germany or Italian in Italy. Some demographers believe it is too late to correct Europe's plunge into extinction. "The fall in the population can no longer be stopped," reported Walter Rademacher of the German Federal Statistics Office.

Replacement fertility rates are 2.1 children per woman in developed nations. No nation in Europe can claim that rate, and most fall under 1.6. At those levels, each generation is barely half the number of the preceding one. The working-age population is reduced by 30 percent in just 20 years, having a devastating impact on economies. Today, European Union and United Nations experts are sufficiently alarmed to call councils to address the population crisis. The irony is that this is a crisis of their making.
The World Won't Be Aging Gracefully

But if you think that things couldn't get any worse, wait till the 2020s. The economic and geopolitical climate could become even more threatening by then -- and this time the reason will be demographics.


Yes, demographics, that relentless maker and breaker of civilizations. From the fall of the Roman and the Mayan empires to the Black Death to the colonization of the New World and the youth-driven revolutions of the 20th century, demographic trends have played a decisive role in precipitating many of the great invasions, political upheavals, migrations and environmental catastrophes of history. By the 2020s, an ominous new conjuncture of these trends will once again threaten massive disruption. We're talking about global aging, which is likely to have a profound effect on economic growth, living standards and the shape of the world order.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:00 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2010

The One World Illusion

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the living women I most admire for her intelligence and her courage. Now living in hiding because of the threats against her life, she is the author of "Infidel and a founder of the AHA foundation "to help protect and defend the rights of women in the West against militant Islam".


home_Ayaan.jpg

When she writes, I read.

In How to Win the Clash of Civilizations in the Wall St Journal, she makes an important point we all would do well to keep in mind: we have to see the world as it is and not as we wish it to be.

What do the controversies around the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, the eviction of American missionaries from Morocco earlier this year, the minaret ban in Switzerland last year, and the recent burka ban in France have in common? All four are framed in the Western media as issues of religious tolerance. But that is not their essence. Fundamentally, they are all symptoms of what the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington called the "Clash of Civilizations," particularly the clash between Islam and the West.

Huntington's argument is worth summarizing briefly for those who now only remember his striking title. The essential building block of the post-Cold War world, he wrote, are seven or eight historical civilizations of which the Western, the Muslim and the Confucian are the most important. The balance of power among these civilizations, he argued, is shifting. The West is declining in relative power, Islam is exploding demographically, and Asian civilizations—especially China—are economically ascendant.
Huntington also said that a civilization-based world order is emerging in which states that share cultural affinities will cooperate with each other and group themselves around the leading states of their civilization. The West's universalist pretensions are increasingly bringing it into conflict with the other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China.

Thus the survival of the West depends on Americans, Europeans and other Westerners reaffirming their shared civilization as unique—and uniting to defend it against challenges from non-Western civilizations .--Huntington's model, especially after the fall of Communism, was not popular. The fashionable idea was put forward in Francis Fukuyama's 1989 essay "The End of History," in which he wrote that all states would converge on a single institutional standard of liberal capitalist democracy and never go to war with each other. The equivalent neoconservative rosy scenario was a "unipolar" world of unrivalled American hegemony. Either way, we were headed for One World.
-----
Our civilization is not indestructible: It needs to be actively defended. This was perhaps Huntington's most important insight. The first step towards winning this clash of civilizations is to understand how the other side is waging it—and to rid ourselves of the One World illusion.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 PM | Permalink

July 29, 2010

"If words fall into disrepair, what will substitute?'

Tony Judt on Words

In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell castigated contemporaries for using language to mystify rather than inform. His critique was directed at bad faith: people wrote poorly because they were trying to say something unclear or else deliberately prevaricating. Our problem, it seems to me, is different. Shoddy prose today bespeaks intellectual insecurity: we speak and write badly because we don’t feel confident in what we think and are reluctant to assert it unambiguously (“It’s only my opinion…”). Rather than suffering from the onset of “newspeak,” we risk the rise of “nospeak.”

I am more conscious of these considerations now than at any time in the past. In the grip of a neurological disorder, I am fast losing control of words even as my relationship with the world has been reduced to them. They still form with impeccable discipline and unreduced range in the silence of my thoughts—the view from inside is as rich as ever—but I can no longer convey them with ease. Vowel sounds and sibilant consonants slide out of my mouth, shapeless and inchoate even to my close collaborator. The vocal muscle, for sixty years my reliable alter ego, is failing. Communication, performance, assertion: these are now my weakest assets. Translating being into thought, thought into words, and words into communication will soon be beyond me and I shall be confined to the rhetorical landscape of my interior reflections.

Though I am now more sympathetic to those constrained to silence I remain contemptuous of garbled language. No longer free to exercise it myself, I appreciate more than ever how vital communication is to the republic: not just the means by which we live together but part of what living together means. The wealth of words in which I was raised were a public space in their own right—and properly preserved public spaces are what we so lack today. If words fall into disrepair, what will substitute? They are all we have.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

July 9, 2010

The digital genome in the nukeproof bunker in the Swiss Alps

"To make our current media formats usable in the future, we have to lock them in an impregnable fortress under a mountain in Switzerland."

From Swiss Cheese and Bullets

If the history of computing has taught us anything, it’s that the shiny new format you’re currently using will be useless several times over within your own lifetime. An entire generation’s work is being lost thanks to ‘progress’.

Proof that our current approach to media is flawed is the
Planets project (led by the British Library and a bunch of other European organisations). Acknowledging that most digital file formats have a life expectancy of five years, they’ve put the details of today’s most common file formats – and how they can be read – into a time capsule, and then put that into a nukeproof labyrinthine bunker in the Swiss alps. Adam Farquhar, one of the brains behind the project puts it simply:

Einstein’s notebooks you can take down off the shelf and read them today. Roll forward 50 years and most of Stephen Hawking’s notes will likely only be stored digitally and we might not be able to access them all … The time capsule being deposited inside Swiss Fort Knox contains the digital equivalent of the genetic code of different data formats, a ‘digital genome’.

By relying on hardware-dependent formats that will only last a few years, we’re turning into a civilisation with no long-term memory, only short. Publishing sorts, please acknowledge that the iPad is not the future, it is just a very shiny, very promising, fundamentally flawed present.

 Swiss-Alps Digital-Formats

I'm glad that the Swiss are doing this.  I don't know of any similar effort in the U.S.  Do you?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:49 PM | Permalink

June 29, 2010

“They couldn’t have been spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”

One woman commenting on the Russian spy next door.   

An F.B.I. investigation that began at least seven years ago culminated with the arrest on Sunday of 10 people in Yonkers, Boston and northern Virginia. The documents detailed what the authorities called the “Illegals Program,” an ambitious, long-term effort by the S.V.R., the successor to the Soviet K.G.B., to plant Russian spies in the United States to gather information and recruit more agents.

The alleged agents were directed to gather information on nuclear weapons, American policy toward Iran, C.I.A. leadership, Congressional politics and many other topics, prosecutors say. The Russian spies made contact with a former high-ranking American national security official and a nuclear weapons researcher, among others.

Ex-KGB agent Uri Bezmenov says the principal task of the KGB occupying 85% of its time, money and manpower was  subversion and Ideological Indoctrination

He says demoralization came first and it takes 15-20 years to infiltrate the schools to teach the next generation and change their perception of reality.  The idealistic  "useful idiots" of the Left  - media,  are important to destabilize society.

Here he speaks on KGB psychological warfare techniques, subversion and control of Western society.

They were far more successful than we realize or care to admit.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 AM | Permalink

June 28, 2010

Eyewitness to the eruption of Mt Vesuvius

If you have had any doubt that people who lived two or three thousand years ago were,  in all essential respects, like us, you can read the Letters of Pliny the Younger

Take this eyewitness account of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius

The buildings all round were shaking,” he writes, and to his amazement the tumultuous seas were “sucked back” by an earth-tremor  leaving “many sea-creatures stranded on the dry sand.” Meanwhile, Vesuvius continued to spit forth a  “black and menacing cloud, split by twisted and quivering flashes of fiery breath,” which opened out “into extended shapes of flames, like lightning flashes, but greater.”

Young Pliny and his mother soon decided to flee, despite the darkness brought on by the ash, and were nearly trampled to death by the panicked mob:

You could hear women moaning, children howling, and men shouting; they were crying out, some seeking parents, others children, and others wives, or recognizing them by the sound of their voices. Some were lamenting their own misfortune; others that of their families. A few in their fear of death were praying for death. Many were raising their hands to implore the gods, but more took the view that no gods now existed anywhere, and that this was an eternal and final darkness hanging over the world.

When true daylight finally reappeared, the exhausted survivors  were “confronted with a scene of universal change, for everything was buried by deep ash, as though by snow.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:15 PM | Permalink

June 25, 2010

The ominous legacy of Cordoba

Raymond Ibrahim on the Two Faces of the Ground Zero Mosque

While the Cordoba Initiative appears to Americans as a sign of good faith and a new beginning with the Islamic world, to Muslims it represents conquest, dominance — even suicidal jihad against the infidel.

Oddly enough, the so-called “tolerant” era of Cordoba supposedly occurred during the caliphate of ‘Abd al-Rahman III (912-961) — well over a thousand years ago. “Eight hundred years ago,” i.e., around 1200, the fanatical Almohids — ideological predecessors of al-Qaeda — were ravaging Cordoba, where “Christians and Jews were given the choice of conversion, exile, or death.” A Freudian slip on the part of the Cordoba Initiative?
--
In fact, the true history of Cordoba, not to mention the whole of Andalusia, is far less inspiring than what Western academics portray: the Christian city was conquered by Muslims around 711, its inhabitants slaughtered or enslaved. The original mosque of Cordoba — the namesake of the Ground Zero mosque — was built atop, and partly from the materials of, a Christian church.  Modern day Muslims are well aware of all this.  Such is the true — and ominous — legacy of Cordoba.

More pointedly, throughout Islam’s history, whenever a region was conquered, one of the first signs of consolidation was/is the erection of a mosque atop the  sacred sites of the vanquished: the pagan Ka‘ba temple in Arabia was converted into Islam’s holiest site, the mosque of Mecca; the al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, was built atop Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem; the Umayyad Mosque was built atop the Church of St. John the Baptist; and the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque upon the conquest of Constantinople.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2010

Six Million Killed in Democratic Republic of Congo

I just wish the U.N. would spend less time ganging up on Israel and more time dealing with the truly horrendous scale of suffering in the Democratic Republic of the  Congo where six million have been killed in the past ten years, about 1500 a day, and rape against women has been the preferred means of terror.

Read Georgianne Nienaber who writes Witness to Rape in Congo: "What is the Future When the Heart of the Community is Broken?"

The testimony is shocking and horrifying.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 26, 2010

Moral sense twisted beyond imaging

It's not just the euro that's cratering.  Moral sense has been twisted beyond imagining.

A showtrial of children for being naughty
The conviction at the Old Bailey in London of a 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy for attempted rape is bad enough. That the children were convicted despite the fact that the eight-year-old defendant admitted in court that she had made up the story of her ordeal is even worse. But what was worst of all was the very public exploitation of these three children for the purposes of working out adult fantasies.

This sordid spectacle had nothing to do with justice. As the trial judge Justice Saunders acknowledged, the case would have collapsed if the defendant had been an adult, because the evidence provided by the young girl was so inconsistent. That’s another way of saying that in these proceedings, what really counted was not the evidence on offer, but adult prejudices and the imperative of sending the ‘right message’.
--

But in truth, this make-believe court scene was part of a ritual which criminalises children who play doctors and nurses and which incites eight- and 10-year-olds to act out the role of ‘rape victim’ and ‘sexual predator’ for a watching adult audience. In their hearts, everyone involved in this mock-trial knew that everything about it was fake.

On top of that Germany and EU to Legalize Pedophilia and with it, Child Pornography

From a booklet by the German Federal Health Education Center aimed at parents of children under 6.

“Fathers do not devote enough attention to the clitoris and vagina of their daughters. Their caresses too seldom pertain to these regions, while this is the only way the girls can develop a sense of pride in their sex,” reads the booklet regarding 1-3 year olds. The authors rationalize, “The child touches all parts of their father’s body, sometimes arousing him. The father should do the same.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2010

Regaining What Was Won, But Is Almost Lost

One of the more interesting books that came out in 2006 was Jesus in Beijing, How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Balance of Power by David Aikma whose author, David Aikma, said in an interview,

I would like readers of Jesus in Beijing to grasp how Christianity, though assumed by many in the West to be outmoded and irrelevant to modern life, is regarded by many Chinese as the absolute key to a successful, peaceful, powerful modern China in the future.

This is not to defend the Chinese Communist government over the years and its disastrously bad policies, the genocide under Mao Tse Tung in China and Tibet more than fifty million people, the  "gendercide"  of a hundred million baby girls through forced abortion which is now causing great social instability because young men with no women to marry take to rampaging and kidnapping through the countryside and its violent suppression of political opponents and its complicity in the harvesting of organs of executed prisoners.

But what is happening among Chinese intellectuals is fascinating.  Akima says

But another factor has been a very open-minded approach by many Chinese intellectuals into such phenomena as the remarkable historical primacy of Western civilization around the world. How could this happen? What were the core principles of Western civilization that enabled it, time and again, to correct itself rather than plunge into cyclical and eventually permanent decline? Many concluded that it was Christian ethics and the dynamism of a faith based on a profound hope in the future and a belief that history was not cyclical, as Buddhism and even Confucianism proclaimed, but linear, and with a specific end goal.
--
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.

How the West Was Won

"To sum up: the rise of the West was based on four primary victories of reason. The first was the development of faith in progress within Christian theology. The second victory was the way that faith in progress translated into technical and organizational innovations, many of them fostered by monastic estates. The third was that, thanks to Christian theology, reason informed both political philosophy and practice to the extent that responsive states, sustaining a substantial degree of personal freedom, appeared in medieval Europe. The final victory involved the application of reason to commerce, resulting in the development of capitalism within the safe havens provided by responsive states. These were the victories by which the West won."
Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (Random House, 2005)  via Paragraph Farmer

Today, almost alone, Pope Benedict XVI, argues for a return to the vital source that made Europe great, A Revolution of Love is Necessary

It is an exacting challenge. The times we are living in place us before great and complex problems, and the social question has become, at the same time, an anthropological question. The ideological paradigms have collapsed that pretended, in the recent past, to be the "scientific" answer to this question. The spread of a confused cultural relativism and of utilitarian and hedonist individualism weakens democracy and fosters the dominance of the strong powers. A genuine political wisdom must be recovered and reinvigorated; to be exacting in what refers to one's own competence; to make critical use of the research of human sciences; to address reality in all its aspects, going beyond all ideological reductionism or utopian pretension; to show oneself open to all true dialogue and collaboration, keeping in mind that politics is also a complex art of balance between ideals and interests, but without ever forgetting that the contribution of Christians is decisive only if the intelligence of the faith becomes intelligence of the reality, key of judgment and of transformation. A real "revolution of love" is necessary.

More from the Holy Father as he reflects on the "priceless cultural and artistic heritage" of Christianity
"Modern culture, particularly in Europe, runs the risk of amnesia, of forgetting and thus abandoning the extraordinary heritage aroused and inspired by Christian faith, which is the essential framework of the culture of Europe, and not only of Europe. The Christian roots of the continent are, in fact, made up not only of religious life and the witness of so many generation of believers, but also of the priceless cultural and artistic heritage which is the pride and precious resource of the peoples and countries in which Christian faith, in its various expressions, has entered into dialogue with culture and the arts".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 17, 2010

The Bonfire of the Liberties

Mark Steyn, A slow-burn bonfire of liberties in broken Britain.

The other “defining moment” got less coverage. Another “pensioner,” 74-year-old Roy Newman, got sick of the various party hacks knocking on his door and put a sign up in his front window: “GET THE LOT OUT.” Ninety minutes later, two police officers arrived at his home to arrest him for “racism.”

Racism? Why, yes. His sign was a piece of white card with red and blue lettering. Red-white-and-blue, geddit? The colours of the Union Jack. If using the same colour scheme as the national flag isn’t coded racism, I don’t know what is. Mr. Newman was prevailed upon to alter some of the letters to yellow, thereby diminishing the racist subtext.

With bigotry and racism running rampant, it was inevitable that homophobia would raise its ugly head. Dale McAlpine, a practising (wait for it) Christian, was handing out leaflets in the town of Workington and chit-chatting with shoppers when he was arrested on a “public order” charge by police officer Sam Adams (no relation), a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community outreach officer. Mr. McAlpine said homosexuality is a sin. “I’m gay,” said Officer Adams. Well, it’s still a sin, said Mr. McAlpine. So Officer Adams arrested him for causing distress to Officer Adams.

In fairness, I should add that Mr. McAlpine was also arrested for causing distress to members of the public more generally, rather than just the aggrieved gay constable. No member of the public actually complained, but, as Officer Adams pointed out, Mr. McAlpine was talking “in a loud voice” that might be “overheard by others.” And we can’t have that, can we? So he was fingerprinted, DNA-sampled and tossed in the cells for seven hours.

The other day, upholding the sacking of a black Christian for declining to provide “sex therapy lessons” to gay couples, Lord Justice Laws ruled that “law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds is irrational, divisive, capricious, arbitrary.
---
In today’s advanced Western society, there are no absolute rights—for all individual freedoms must be “balanced” against the state’s commitment to “multiculturalism” or “equality” or whatever other modish conceit tickles its fancy.
--
in the modern era “rights” are baubles in the state’s gift, and the sovereign confers them at the expense of individual liberty. Truly, this is an Orwellian assault on the very foundations of freedom.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 PM | Permalink

May 13, 2010

Forced Sterilization in the West

If you thought only women in China were forcibly sterilized by the government, then read this story from the London Times.

Doctors sterilize Uzbek women

WHEN her baby died soon after delivery, Gulbahor Zavidova, 28, a poor farmer’s wife, longed to be pregnant again. After months of trying she and her husband visited a doctor who told her she could never have another child because she had been sterilised.

The procedure had been performed immediately after she gave birth, by doctors who did not ask her consent. On learning she could not bear children, her husband left her.

“Not a day passes without me crying,” she said. “I was outraged when I found out what they had done. How could they do such a horrible thing without asking me?”

According to human rights groups, tens of thousands of young women like Zavidova have been sterilised without their consent in the authoritarian former Soviet state of Uzbekistan.
--
Activists say mass sterilisation began in 2003, but was eased after two years following an outcry. It is said to have restarted in February this year, when the health ministry ordered doctors to recommend sterilisation as an “effective contraceptive”. Critics claim every doctor was told to persuade “at least two women” a month to have the procedure. Doctors who failed faced reprisals and fines.

What was most shocking was the complicity of the United States in this forced sterilization campaign.  Apparentlyforced sterilization began much earlier.

The Silence of the Complicit: Uzbekistan's Forced Sterilization and the West's Indifference.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the five former Soviet Central Asian Republics (the “stans:” Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) finally achieved independence. Naturally, the United States was quick to offer a diplomatic relationship with these countries. However, with these diplomatic ties came U.S. foreign aid dollars—and a now-infamous U.S. foreign aid agenda.

In a 1997 report, PRI reported on how USAID quickly made population control their highest priority in all 5 central Asian nations—with a vengeance. USAID’s “assessment team” was sent in to decide what was most needed by the Central Asians, but before they set foot on Asian soil, the assessors had already decided what the answer would be. 

“Predictably,” PRI reported, “the assessment team discovered that there was a critical need for birth limitation and large quantities of contraceptive supplies were required throughout the region again, even though it is one of the least densely populated places on the planet.
--
As a result of this “investigation,” USAID proceeded to sterilize women. Lots of women. In fact, one USAID report claimed that USAID officials had implanted IUDs (intrauterine devices) in more than one million women in 1991 alone.
--

Which brings us to this year’s news about massive sterilizations. It seems clear that, even if USAID is no longer directly involved with sterilizing tens of thousands of women, their legacy lives on. It is highly doubtful that a nation like Uzbekistan, emerging from the murk of Soviet oppression and being only lightly populated, would prioritize population control in this way. And yet, it mysteriously continues to do so.
And worse, there is practically no public outcry in the West. Organizations like USAID count on their own silence, and the brevity of the public consciousness, to make these human rights scandals go quietly into the night. Rarely is there any press fanfare, or any collective public outrage.

How many women did not know what had been done to them?  In how many other countries did this happen?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:08 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 12, 2010

"Why are you striking?" one man said angrily. "You have good jobs."

The best article I've read on the Greek crisis is in Spiegel International, Is It Already Too Late to Save Greece

-Street Protests Greece

Greece has more than five times as many civil servants per capita than the United Kingdom. The country's inflated government apparatus consumes tens of billions of euros a year. It's money the Greek state doesn't have -- and actually never did
--
In approving the Greek bailout plan, the international community is more intent on saving its own banks than rescuing Greece itself. The Greek government owes €162 billion to foreign banks and private industry worldwide. German banks hold €33 billion in Greek government bonds.

Creditors must surely realize that the loans are no longer collectable, says Ulrich Blum, the president of the Halle Institute for Economic Research in eastern Germany. "The verdict on Greece is already in."
--
Harsh Measures

In specific terms, the donor nations and the IMF are requiring additional wage cuts for public employees and a further increase in the retirement age from 63 to 65.

In addition, only one-fifth of civil servant positions that become available are to be filled, and the value-added tax will be raised a second time this year, to 23 percent.

Finally, the government will be required to take decisive action against tax evasion, which is practically a national sport in Greece, as well as tackle rampant corruption.

'
Not Even Competitive in Tourism'

Greece is often described in the media as a trading and service economy, but that is an enormous embellishment. In reality, the country has completed the transition from an agrarian society to a republic of bureaucrats.

The country has no industry to speak of, no products capable of competing in global markets, and no research community that could develop such products for the future. Some 70 percent of the Greek economy is dependent on consumer spending.

'Why Are You Striking?'
-
At any rate, the situation has changed abruptly for the trade unions, which are spearheading the protests. During the recent general strike, union members were loudly berated by passersby. "Why are you striking?" one man said angrily. "You have good jobs."

'War Against Corruption'

The system operated according to the principle: Once you're in, you're in for good. Government employees were set for life.

Rakintzis isn't just talking about bribes. He also cites the problems of abuse of office, waste and unjust enrichment, corruption and the small financial favors known as fakelaki, the notorious "little envelopes" that speed up service. And he complains about the lack of efficiency in many government agencies, whose reason for existing is sometimes not even clear to members of senior management.

'People Are Tired'

This is why Papandreou wants to see his major municipal reform, dubbed "Kallikratis," approved this summer. Rakintzis has already done the preparatory work for it. The number of municipalities is to be reduced from 1,034 to only 370, and the number of municipal companies to two per municipality. About 6,000 of these institutions still exist today. But that is expected to change. As Rakintzis says, "this is a gigantic step forward and a good new beginning."

The prime minister also wants to mercilessly close government agencies and offices that have no real duties and that make little sense, and that employ staffs of people who do nothing but have been paid for years. The government plans to remain steadfast and to make a clean break with such pointless bureaucracy.

Athens therefore has grand plans. But whether all of this will be sufficient is questionable. There is "a feeling of exhaustion in many parts of society," says economist Jens Bastian. "People are tired." Although that fact will cause protests to die off, in his opinion, he wonders whether an exhausted populace will be able to sort out the huge mess that Greek is in.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:02 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2010

"The twenty-first century is a time of uncertainty, risk, revolution and explosion"

Walter Russell Read says what's going on is A Crisis of Faith Not A Crisis of Stocks

With the world’s financial markets gyrating wildly and the threat of a true depression looming over the still fragile economic recovery, the faith today that seems under the heaviest assault is more modern: the faith that natural and social science would lead humanity to an era of progress, security and peace.
-

while liberal modernity has succeeded as a way of organizing human society for greater productivity and power, it has failed as a religion.  The rational, liberal enlightenment has helped us master the forces of nature (though events like the oil spill in the Gulf remind us that we still have much to learn in this respect), but it has not done much to help us master ourselves or to shape our destiny.
--
The twenty-first century is a time of uncertainty, risk, revolution and explosion and unfortunately we are heading into it with some assumptions that look less and less likely.
--
We like to assume that history is getting calmer, more settled, safer and more predictable.  It ain’t.  history is going to remain radically risky, radically unknowable, and scarier than anything Stephen King ever wrote.
--
Liberal democratic capitalism is not a strategy for making God unnecessary by creating a stable and predictable world.  Liberal democratic capitalism is a revolutionary force that brings us face to face with the haunting uncertainties and big questions that since the dawn of time have driven people to God in search of answers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink

April 30, 2010

What the loss of papyrus meant to the West

Things I never knew before.

How Islam Destroyed The Literary Inheritance Of The Classical World  by John O’Neill

The real end of the Classical Age, as increasing numbers of historians are beginning to understand, occurred not in the fifth century, but during the seventh — immediately after the arrival of Islam on the world stage. And it was in the seventh century that Classical Civilization disappeared both from Western Europe and from the Middle East and North Africa.
--
The first author, as far as I am aware, to identify the true cause of Classical civilizations’s disappearance was Belgian medievalist Henri Pirenne, whose posthumously published Mohammed et Charlemagne (1938), ignited a debate that has not yet come to an end.Pirenne showed that it was the Arab conquest of the Middle East and North Africa, in the seventh century, that marked the real boundary between the world of Classical antiquity and that of the Middle Ages.
The Mediterranean, he showed, previously the world’s main artery of trade, now became a hunting-ground of pirates and slave-traders; and the great cities of the West, of Gaul, Spain, and Italy, whose prosperity was dependent upon the Mediterranean trade, began to die. (It should be noted that the closing of the Mediterranean had little to do with regular warfare, and was rather the result of the Islamic teaching of perpetual war against unbelievers — a teaching which encouraged small-scale actions carried out by individuals and led to a virtual tidal wave of piracy). In Mohammed et Charlemagne, Pirenne documented the sudden disappearance of luxury products of the East which had, until the start of the seventh century, been commonplace in Gaul, Spain and Italy.
--
Pirenne found that,
from the latter half of the seventh century, Europe became impoverished both culturally and economically with a speed that could only be described as astonishing.
--
Henri Pirenne noted that one of the products of the East which disappears in the seventh century is papyrus. Until the first quarter of the seventh century, Egyptian papyrus is ubiquitious in the records and documents of western Europe. By the second half of the seventh century it disappears completely, to be replaced by parchment. Now parchment, of course, was immensely expensive in comparison with papyrus, and there can be no doubt that the loss of the papyrus supply would by itself have had a devastating effect upon the state of literacy and literature in Europe. Pirenne himself recognized this, and rightly saw
the disappearance of papyrus from the West as a seminal event in Europe’s history.

 Papyrus Scroll

--
The one institution in Europe that could save the Classical works was the Church: And we know that, from the middle of the seventh century many monasteries had large collections of the “pagan” authors. Indeed, the great majority of the literature of Greece and Rome that has survived into modern times was preserved by the monks of the sixth and seventh centuries.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 PM | Permalink

April 28, 2010

Nasty, brutish and short

"During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man.

"To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues.

"No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

Thomas Hobbes (1568-1679)


It sounds mighty like what Jeffrey Gettleman describes in Africa's Forever Wars

There is a very simple reason why some of Africa's bloodiest, most brutal wars never seem to end: They are not really wars. Not in the traditional sense, at least. The combatants don't have much of an ideology; they don't have clear goals. They couldn't care less about taking over capitals or major cities -- in fact, they prefer the deep bush, where it is far easier to commit crimes. Today's rebels seem especially uninterested in winning converts, content instead to steal other people's children, stick Kalashnikovs or axes in their hands, and make them do the killing. Look closely at some of the continent's most intractable conflicts, from the rebel-laden creeks of the Niger Delta to the inferno in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and this is what you will find.

What we are seeing is the decline of the classic African liberation movement and the proliferation of something else -- something wilder, messier, more violent, and harder to wrap our heads around. If you'd like to call this war, fine. But what is spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic is actually just opportunistic, heavily armed banditry. My job as the New York Times' East Africa bureau chief is to cover news and feature stories in 12 countries. But most of my time is spent immersed in these un-wars.
--
Most of today's African fighters are not rebels with a cause; they're predators. That's why we see stunning atrocities like eastern Congo's rape epidemic, where armed groups in recent years have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands of women, often so sadistically that the victims are left incontinent for life. What is the military or political objective of ramming an assault rifle inside a woman and pulling the trigger? Terror has become an end, not just a means.

This is the story across much of Africa, where nearly half of the continent's 53 countries are home to an active conflict or a recently ended one. Quiet places such as Tanzania are the lonely exceptions; even user-friendly, tourist-filled Kenya blew up in 2008. Add together the casualties in just the dozen countries that I cover, and you have a death toll of tens of thousands of civilians each year. More than 5 million have died in Congo alone since 1998, the International Rescue Committee has estimated.
--
Even if you could coax these men out of their jungle lairs and get them to the negotiating table, there is very little to offer them. They don't want ministries or tracts of land to govern. Their armies are often traumatized children, with experience and skills (if you can call them that) totally unsuited for civilian life. All they want is cash, guns, and a license to rampage. And they've already got all three. How do you negotiate with that?

The short answer is you don't. The only way to stop today's rebels for real is to capture or kill their leaders.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 PM | Permalink

April 26, 2010

"This is what decadence looks like"

Ross Douthat has the ultimate skewering of Comedy Central's cowardly decision to self censor South Park because it mentioned the name of Mohammed.

.... But because it’s a reminder that Islam is just about the only place where we draw any lines at all......

There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing.
--
This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink

April 21, 2010

Losing our culture, losing ourselves

A profoundly depressing look at the culture of dependency in two former steel towns, one in Northern England, the other in Wales.

Steel Yourself by Theodore Dalrymple

If anyone doubts the existence or reality of a dependency culture, he should visit one of these two towns. They are East European communist towns with a bit more consumer choice, but not much the better for that, and in some respects worse, in so far as there is less intellectual ferment in them.

The people do not walk so much as trudge, plastic bags hanging from them like heavy fruit. They are grey-faced, bowed-down, prematurely aged, arthritic before their time. An astonishing proportion of them need (or at any rate use) walking sticks from their thirties onwards. Many of them are enormously fat, and one can imagine them completely immobile by the age of sixty. The small children – overwhelmingly illegitimate, of course, for more than half of children born in Britain are now illegitimate, and the poorer the area (except for Indian and Pakistani immigrants) the higher the proportion – are devoid of the sweetness of young childhood, instead having a fixed look of malice on their faces by the age of three. Ferret-faced young men, attired in international ghetto costume, often with a hood, stand around talking to one another, at least a third of their words being ‘fuck’ or one of its cognates. The young women are all highly sexualised without being in the least alluring. Their fate is to have children by more than one of the ferret-faced young men.

Hopelessness, indifference, apathy is everywhere, omnipresent like the gases of the atmosphere. No Indian or African slum has ever affected men in the same way: this is far, far worse. Energy is dissipated before it is expended, as if by some kind of magnetism. The people are not starving – if anything, the problem is the reverse – nor are they living in physically intolerable housing conditions, though their houses are depressingly ugly. That so many are festooned with satellite dishes is a bad sign: where satellite dishes are many and prominent, the people are bored and listless. Litter lies everywhere and many people do not clear it even from their own front yards, preferring to wade their way through it to their front doors.

 Abandonned-Church-3

About the loss of religion in both places, Dalrymple writes

the town in the North of England had once been dominated by a magnificent 15th Century church, originally Catholic, of course, but now Anglican. It was totally irrelevant to the life of the town, if life is quite the right word for what went on there.
--
With complete disregard for the aesthetics of this church – a magnificent monument in a wasteland of man-made hideousness - cheap modern furniture had been installed, and even (in place of a lady chapel) a kitchenette, complete with plywood cladding, used for the doling out of tea to lonely old ladies.

Please do not misunderstand me: I am not against the doling out tea to lonely old ladies; indeed, I am much in favour of it. But I do not think that a fifteenth century church is the right place for it, especially if the interior of the church has to be spoiled in the process, and the fact that the Church of England thinks that this is all right accounts in some part for its demise. The kitchenette was visible and obvious evidence of the Church’s lack of belief in transcendence, in anything other than the most earthbound of values. (The ancient tombstones had also been removed from the grass around the church for reasons of public safety.) 
Imagine that.

Father James Schall looks at What Civilizes Us

Yet something strange is always found in civilizations. At their best, all have some relation to an order that is more than civic. This social order, by being what it is, likewise points to what transcends man. Indeed, for man to be himself, he needs to transcend himself. If nothing is found beyond him, he ends up less than human.

 Abandoned-Church2



He refers to the study of Christianity by the Chinese communists, one I referenced in 2006, Christians in China in a review of the book Jesus in Beijing.

But another factor has been a very open-minded approach by many Chinese intellectuals into such phenomena as the remarkable historical primacy of Western civilization around the world. How could this happen? What were the core principles of Western civilization that enabled it, time and again, to correct itself rather than plunge into cyclical and eventually permanent decline? Many concluded that it was Christian ethics and the dynamism of a faith based on a profound hope in the future and a belief that history was not cyclical, as Buddhism and even Confucianism proclaimed, but linear, and with a specific end goal.

Chinese Church Wave

--
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.

Schall then goes on

Was Christianity a mere sidelight or was it Europe's heart? Were the Chinese scholars more perceptive than the European politicians? Is Europe dying for the same reason the Chinese populace has no belief in anything?

Pell recalls the 1983 remark of Solzhenitsyn that "Men have forgotten God." This forgetfulness is not neutral. It has practical consequences on whether life is worth living. If the individual has no meaning other than what he gives himself – the current doctrine – what is he? Who cares? A world filled with poor, numerous, meaningless people cannot really find motivation to reestablish the moral dignity that makes a civilization humane and honorable.
--
Civilization points not to itself but to what is beyond itself. When it does not, as the Chinese worry, we lose even ourselves.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:58 AM | Permalink

April 19, 2010

Living in a False Reality

Two very interesting articles on Islam by Muslims that I admit discouraged me when I saw again how political correctness has put discussion of certain topics 'off limits' making us even more incapable of dealing with the reality of the world that faces us.

The first by Raymond Ibrahim asks Whether Marco Polo was an Islamophobe.

Here, then, is the problem: If today it is “Islamophobic,” that is, irrational, to claim that Islam advocates war against and subjugation for infidels, permitting the latter to be abused, plundered, and enslaved in the process — what does one make of the fact that, some 700 years ago, the same exact claims were made by our Venetian traveler?  Indeed, what does one make of the fact that, centuries before and after Polo, a diverse host of writers — including John of Damascus (d.749) Theophanes the chronicler (d.818), Francis of Assisi (d.1226), Joinville the crusader (d.13th century), and Manuel the Byzantine emperor (d.1425) — all made the same “Islamophobic” observations about Islam? (The latter’s writings, when merely quoted by the pope, caused an uproar in the Muslim world.) This, of course, is to say nothing of the countless Muslim ulema who regularly affirm that Islam teaches war, subjugation, slavery, and plunder vis-a-vis the infidel, tracing it back to the words of the Koran and Muhammad.

In short, the word “Islamophobia” is a ruse — also permitted in Islam under the doctrine of taqiyya — meant to paralyze all discussion concerning Muslim doctrine; and it has been successful: the United Nations has already presided over a conference titled “Confronting Islamophobia” and a Council of Europe summit condemned “Islamophobia.” Moreover, the influential Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) regularly lambasts the specter of Islamophobia, calling it the “worst form of terrorism,” and publishing two reports on the phenomenon.

The second by Sheik Yer' Mami delivers a scathing indictment of the New York Times

First, in its delinquent reports of what was happening in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, again with the deeply misleading coverage of the Stalin's forced famine in the Ukraine by Walter Duranty for which he received the Pulitzer prize.

He helped, by commission, to convey a false reality concerning the Soviet Union and its murderous policies, just as the owners of the Times helped, by deliberate omission and de-emphasizing, to convey a false reality concerning the Nazis and their murderous policies, and chief and earliest victims, the Jews of Germany and then of Eastern Europe.

And it continues today with its lack of coverage of the ideology of Islam.

And The New York Times continues, in ways little and big, to ignore the reality of Islam. It is a case of individual folly and mediocrity – the egregious Tom Friedman comes immediately to mind, and so too does Nicholas Kristof.  But then there are the reporters.
--
Thus the Times is worse than useless. It is not a guide to understanding the world, or the threat to the wellbeing of non-Muslims everywhere from those who take their Islam seriously, either now, or possibly, as a result of any number of promptings (some political and many personal) in the future.
The Times has performed disgracefully, and after the disgraces of the 1930s, it’s quite something to find it failing so badly, with such dangerous consequences, again.

Let us take, for example, something very small, something so small that it never appeared in the Times as a full-fledged article, but rather as a small paragraph under the rubric “World News.” The Paper of Record took the story – The Times does this more and more – from the AP.

Here it is: “Muslims Try to Pray in Spanish Cathedral.”
--
You know, a story that were truthful would go something like this:

A deliberately-planned display of Muslim force took place in the cathedral of Cordoba on April 2, in the very middle of Holy Week, the holiest time of the year for Christians. Nearly 120 Muslims from Austria slowly filtered into the cathedral, so as not to attract the attention of guards and, using walkie-talkies, arranged to meet at a certain time, in one of the naves of the cathedral. There a number of them began, in the hush of the Christian services, to turn toward Mecca and prostrate themselves, and to loudly chant in unison. When asked by the security guards to please stop, they refused, and began to threaten the guards who, in turn, had to call for reinforcements from the Spanish police. When the Spanish police arrived, thus further disrupting the holy hush of ancient sacrifice, and the spiritual tranquility of the Christian worshippers, they found the Muslims unwilling to stop. At least one pulled out a knife, and at least two of the Spanish guards, one policeman and one from the cathedral detail, were wounded sufficiently to go to the hospital.

UPDATE:  Neoneocon writes about the power of words to distort reality, especially if these words are mandated by the government.

Joe Lieberman seems to get it:

“This is not honest,” Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Three thousand Americans were killed not by some amorphous group of violent extremists or environmental extremists or white supremacist extremists. They were violent Islamist extremists motivated and organized by the ideology preached by Osama bin Laden.”

“And unless we’re honest about that,” he said, “we’re not going to be able to defeat this enemy.

Of course, it will take a lot more than honest language to defeat terrorism. But honest language is a requisite step, and dishonest language fools no one. The Obama administration’s refusal to call things by their proper names communicates nothing but pandering and weakness rather than resolve and strength.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 20, 2010

The Basics

From the Population Institute, the basics on the Business of Life.

From the World Factbook, total fertility rate, 2009, selected countries.

 Fertility-Rates

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

February 18, 2010

What happened to the most tolerant country in Europe?

Mark Steyn on  The absurd trial of Geert Wilders:

Geert Wilders, by contrast, is one of the most popular politicians in the Netherlands, and his fate is central to the future of his kingdom and his continent. He is an elected member of parliament—and, although he’s invariably labelled “far right” in news reports, how far he is depends on where you’re standing: his party came second in last year’s elections for the European Parliament, and a poll of the Dutch electorate in December found it tied for first place. Furthermore, if you read the indictment against him, you’ll see that among other things Wilders is being prosecuted for is proposing an end to “non-Western immigration” to the Netherlands: the offending remarks were made in response to a direct question as to what his party would do in its first days in office. So the Dutch state is explicitly prosecuting the political platform of the most popular opposition party in the country, and attempting to schedule the trial for its own electoral advantage. That’s the sort of thing free societies used to leave to Mobutu, Ferdinand Marcos and this week’s Generalissimo-for-Life.
--
It’s remarkable how speedily “the most tolerant country in Europe,” in a peculiarly repellent strain of coercive appeasement, has adopted “shoot the messenger” as an all-purpose cure-all for “Islamophobia.” To some of us, the Netherlands means tulips, clogs, windmills, fingers in the dike. To others, it means marijuana cafés, long-haired soldiers, legalized hookers, fingers in the dike. But the contemporary reality is an increasingly incoherent polity where gays are bashed, uncovered women get jeered at, and you can’t do The Diary of Anne Frank as your school play lest the Gestapo walk-ons are greeted by audience cries of “She’s in the attic!” Speaking as a bona fide far-right nutcase, I rather resent the label’s export to Holland: Pim Fortuyn wasn’t “right-wing,” he was a gay hedonist; Theo van Gogh was an anti-monarchist coke-snorting nihilist; Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a secular liberal feminist; Geert Wilders says he’s opposed to Islam because of its hostility to gay equality, whereas the usual rap against us far-right extremists is that we want the godless sodomites to roast in hell.

Surprisingly, the people behind the persecution of Geert Wilders are, according to a Dutch journalist, far-left Trotskyites

So we have an extreme left political group with violent and anti-Semitic antecedents as a political frontrunner in a trial, threatening to suppress freedom of speech. Violence and anti-Semitism are just two indicators of the “rightist” extremism that the researchers could not detect in Wilders.

Media in the Netherlands focuses on Wilders yet seldom writes about the far left origins of his most active political opponent in this trial. The bashers of the murdered Pim Fortuyn are exactly the same people as the political persecutors of Geert Wilders

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 PM | Permalink

February 12, 2010

Thought Police

Janet Albrechtsen,in the Australian, writes about the menace in the mad march of the thought police

The dark spectre of illiberalism is slowly poisoning Western liberal democracies. You won't hear about it from much of the left-liberal press. It is part of the problem and its silence only confirms that basic liberties integral to Western liberal democracies are under threat. That is why you may not have heard about the trial of Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is being prosecuted under hate laws in The Netherlands for his opinions about Islam. Agree or disagree with Wilders, this is the thundering march of the thought police.
--
Shutting down public debates will only drive discussion underground where, away from the blowtorch of challenging views, they will fester and grow more extreme in private. And shutting down offensive debate at the request of loony objectors just encourages more thin-skinned outrage, with ever more outlandish claims to protection from free speech, and increasing censorship. If you really want to discredit bad ideas, the surest way is to expose them to free and full debate. Remember, too, that plenty of ideas that were once regarded as offensive by a group of puffed-up, moralising sophisticates have prevailed.

People shut themselves down and don't speak out because of political correctness; they are frightened to speak the truth.  In Holland, we now know that In the trial of Geert Wilders, the truth is no defense.

Robert Spencer of JihadWatch on the Geert Wilders and the Death of Free Speech

The idea that intentionally offending someone is a criminal offense should be a matter for Kafka or comic opera, but such is the advance of multiculturalism in the Netherlands today, and the rest of Europe is not all that far behind. The real purpose of the Wilders trial is twofold: first, the Dutch political establishment hopes to use it to stop the meteoric rise of the upstart Wilders, who challenges so many of the core assumptions upon which current Dutch and European Union policy are based. And since one of those policies is unrestricted immigration from Muslim countries, they hope to discredit Wilders’s work in exposing how Islamic jihadists use violent passages of the Koran to justify violence and supremacism.

He quotes Wilders himself
I am being prosecuted for my political convictions. The freedom of speech is on the verge of collapsing. If a politician is not allowed to criticise an ideology anymore, this means that we are lost, and it will lead to the end of our freedom.” And not just in the Netherlands.

I am reminded what Theodore Dalrymple said about political correctness in an interview a few years ago because it was so absolutely right on.

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.     

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:47 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 9, 2010

Where Truth is not a Defense

The ongoing trial of Geert Wilders is a travesty where Western Civilization is on Trial

In an NRO Symposium, Paul Marshall writes

The American media’s silence about the Geert Wilders trial is puzzling — the trial is explosive, much more so than most of America’s perennial “trials of the century.” Wilders, leader of the Freedom party, is arguably the Netherlands’s most popular politician, but for years he has had to live in safe houses, including on military bases. He now faces the possibility of imprisonment on charges of “group insult” and “incitement to hatred,” as defined by articles 137 (c) and (d) of the Dutch penal code, for his public speeches and op-eds criticizing Islam.

The media’s silence is also disturbing since it indicates their reluctance, even fear, when it comes to grappling with the West’s increasing censorship of anything that might be deemed offensive to some Muslims. So far, the effects in the U.S. are small — such as the Yale University Press’s removing the famous Danish cartoons from a book about those same cartoons — but they betray a mindset common to much of Europe: preemptive self-censorship.

Clifford May reports
In response to Wilders’s request to bring in witnesses to establish the veracity of the opinions that got him in trouble with the law, that body issued this statement on January 17: “It is irrelevant whether Wilders’s witnesses might prove Wilders’s observations to be correct, what’s relevant is that his observations are illegal.”

Elsewhere, Gil Bailie writes

As René Girard argues, the real struggle in our world is not between violence and peace; it is between violence and truth. All attempts to avoid the former by silencing the latter will end in catastrophe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:55 PM | Permalink

January 5, 2010

Who will save Western Civilization?

Like most of you, I have the feeling that somehow things have gone off the tracks while we are being hurtled through changes most of us don't like at all or can't comprehend.  It's a sense of unreality - that we have lost something important and we don't  know what it is or how to get it back.  These are dark days for Western Civilization though almost nobody seems to want to defend it anymore.

Just before the end of 2009, Pam Geller quoted Geert Wilders in Dooming Europe
The Europe as you know it from visiting, from your parents, or friends is on the verge of collapsing." Geert Wilders said this in a speech he made in the U.S. last year. He went on: "We are now witnessing profound changes that will forever alter Europe's destiny and might send the continent in what Ronald Reagan called 'a thousand years of darkness.'" This applies not just to Europe, but to America as well.

David Warren writes
Let us start as grimly as possible in the present: with my conviction that things do not look very promising for our civilization. For two generations (and according not only to me) we have been watching catastrophic moral betrayal and collapse; and worse, the spread of a lethal apathy toward it.

The building and rebuilding forces of our society -- essentially church and family -- are by now almost everywhere under organized legal, legislative, and propaganda assault from the sterile vanguard of the atheist Left. The poison mist of "political correctness" swirls over our psychic landscape, and the great joyous and unifying truths which animated Western Christendom continue to be supplanted, both practically and symbolically, by the envious Big Lies of the political "activists."

But we have not lost access to the means of recovery. The wisdom upon which our Christian civilization was built is available not only through books still in circulation, but through surviving monuments such as her cathedrals, her art and her music and her poetry and even the hard core of her sciences. Surviving customs, such as Christmas and Easter, rekindle constantly with their true meaning; surviving language continues to carry centuries of folk wisdom in an unconscious stream.

 Daguerre Bare-Ruined-Choirs

Deacon Dean Fournier goes further and says the Catholic Church is in the first stage of a new missionary age
The collapse of the West will not be remedied by any political party or philosophy. In the United States, gripped by the lies of a culture of death and use, we do not need a “conservative revolution” as some pundits maintain. We need a Christian revolution. It was the Christian Church which gave us the understanding of the dignity of every human person because we are created in the Image of God. From that came the understanding that we all possess fundamental human rights. Yes, the American founders carried such a notion into a bold experiment in ordered liberty but they did not come up with it on their own. They derived it from Western civilization and the influence of Christendom. That is the the influence of the Church. That is also why the seemingly inevitable collapse of the West can be averted, but only through the resurgence of the Church in the Third Millennium. It is the Church which is the vehicle for true progress. Christianity is the antidote to the descent into a new barbarism arising out of the neo-paganism currently masquerading as liberation.
--

Pope Benedict’s summons to Europe to return to her Christian roots in order to rebuild herself - and his commendation of some of the philosophical underpinnings of the American experiment ( as evident in his visit and his locutions while on our shores) - are oriented toward the same end. He is encouraging the building of a truly just civil and social order by proposing the Christian vision of the person, the family and the common good as the foundation. In short, we need a new Christian foundation for the West. The Catholic Church is in the first stage of a new missionary age. The Dictionary tells us that a prelude is “an introductory performance, action, or event preceding and preparing for the principal or a more important matter.” The Year that was and the Year that will be are a just that, a prelude, there is much more to come.


Father Julian Carron, a Spanish priest and professor of theology at the University of Milan in a commentary in the December Magnificat asked whether  salvation come through something so small as faith in Jesus.
It seems impossible that all our hope can rest on belonging to this frail sign?  The promise that only from this can everything be rebuilt seems scandalous.  Yet men like Saint Benedict and Saint Francis started from that.  They began to live while belonging to that branch that had grown through time and space – the Church – and in this way became protagonists of a people and of history.  Benedict did not face the end of the Roman Empire with anger, pointing his finger at the immorality of his contemporaries, but rather witnessed to the people of his time a fullness of life, a satisfaction – a fullness that became an attraction for many.  This became the dawn of a new world, small as it was (almost a nonentity compared with the whole, a whole that was in total collapse, but a real world.  That new beginning was so concrete that the work of Benedict and Francis has lasted through the centuries, has transformed Europe and humanized it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 AM | Permalink

December 24, 2009

An Arabic Christmas Carol

This Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity is one of the most beautiful Christmas carols I've ever heard.

But I listen to this wonderful video with sadness.  Christians in Iraq have canceled services and cautioned worshipers to keep their celebrations private.

ldean bishop of Basra, Imad al-Banna, is asking Christians "not to display their joy, not to publicly celebrate the feast of Nativity" to avoid offending Iraq's Shiite community, whose Ashura holiday falls two days after Christmas this year.

According to Louis Sako, chief archbishop of Kirkuk for the Chaldean Christians, a Catholic sect that originated in Iraq, none of the northern archdiocese's nine churches has scheduled a Christmas Mass this year.

"This is the first time we have had to cancel our celebrations," he said.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Iraq's Christian minority has faced constant persecution, including dozens of church bombings, executions, kidnappings and forced expulsions, devastating some communities and reducing the overall Christian population by at least 25 percent.

All I can do is pray for the poor beleaguered Christians in the country we 'liberated'

"We have taken our security procedures to protect the Christians in their celebrations in the city," said Lt. Col. Jima'ah Aldliamee, a police commander in Anbar province.

"They promised to protect us in the past, but so far they have not succeeded," said Georges Matti, an employee of the state-owned North Oil. "We are the victims of political conflicts between various Iraqi groups or at the hands of some religious extremists who believe that because we are Christians, we are lackeys of the West."

"Psychologically, we cannot have a celebration," said Qais Aboudi, a 56-year-old carpenter and member of a Baghdad Chaldean parish. "But we cannot deny we are Christians. It is our religion, and we are proud of it."

"I'm fed up. I've been speaking with the press for seven years. I have no comment," said Ahad, the Syrian Catholic pastor. "I've been asking the Iraqi government, asking the Americans, and no one has helped us.

"I used to celebrate Christmas with many people, with joy, with visits, with guests," said the pastor at the Virgin Mary church. "Now I am staying here alone. We are living like rats."

All I can hope for these people is the Christmas message: Peace on Earth, Good Will towards Men,

UPDATE: Phyllis Chesler asks whether Jesus Could Live Safely in Bethlehem Today.  However helpless the Jews were under the brutal Roman empire and not forgetting the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to escape the murderous rage of Herod, Christians today under Muslim rule are not even allowed to worship in their own churches.

Even in America, in Ohio  a young Christian girl is persecuted by her family and completely isolated from other Christians, even from Christmas cards sent her by those who have followed her plight.  The Prosecution of Rifqa Barry

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

December 22, 2009

The revenge of the elephants

A Christian teacher who offered to pray for a sick pupil has been fired

A Christian teacher fears she may never work again after she was sacked for offering to pray for a sick pupil.

Olive Jones, 54, said she had been made to feel like a criminal, and claimed that Christians were being persecuted due to 'political correctness'.
Mrs Jones, who taught children not well enough to attend school, said that after she raised the topic of prayer during a visit to a 12-year-old's house, the girl's mother lodged a complaint.
Just hours later, said Mrs Jones, her boss told her she would no longer be working for Oak Hill Short Stay School and Tuition Service, in Nailsea, Somerset.
She said managers had ruled her comments could be perceived as 'bullyin
g'.

For once, as Melanie Phillips writes, the Archbishop of Canterbury is right.  Treating Christians as cranks is an act of cultural suicide.

In recent times, there has been a string of cases in which it is no exaggeration to say that British Christians have been persecuted for expressing their faith.

In July, Duke Amachree, a Christian who for 18 years had been a Homelessness Prevention Officer for Wandsworth Council, encouraged a client with an incurable medical condition to believe in God. As a result, Mr Amachree was marched off the premises, suspended and then dismissed from his job. It was a similar case to the Christian nurse who was suspended after offering to pray for a patient's recovery.

Christians are being removed from adoption panels if they refuse to endorse placing children for adoption with samesex couples.

Similarly, a Christian counsellor was sacked by the national counselling service Relate because he refused to give sex therapy sessions to gays.

What this amounts to is that for Christians, the freedom to live according to their religious beliefs - one of the most fundamental precepts of a liberal society - is fast becoming impossible. Indeed, merely professing traditional Christian beliefs can cause such offence that it is treated as a crime.

The Jews are caught too in this disrespect and hostility towards religion when the U.K.Supreme Court took it upon itself  to decide that it, not the Jews, can decide who is a Jew.  Our human rights culture has now become a tyranny   

The court is effectively saying that a religion's way of defining its own membership, practised over 3,500 years, is illegal. This is an acute problem for Jews, who are at great pains to maintain their own rules while respecting the law of the land. It will also be used by anti-Jewish groups, which are growing in strength, to bolster their argument that Judaism is racist and that the state of Israel is the equivalent of apartheid South Africa. So the Race Relations Act, set up to help minorities, ends up punishing them.
--
The human rights culture which now dominates our law believes in its own morality. It sets itself above the varied experience of civilisation, and above the idea of independent nations. It decides that rights can be codified for everyone and can be applied everywhere. It is not a coincidence that our highest court has just changed its name from the House of Lords to the Supreme Court: it considers itself supreme indeed. This "human-rights" morality is much more coercive than it purports to be.

What we are seeing is the rise of authoritarian democracies.  The consequences of the decline of religious freedom are incalculable and unknown.    Why in India, persecution of Christians some say has resulted in  the revenge of the elephants

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:29 AM | Permalink

November 23, 2009

No country for old men

Via Bookworm Room comes the depressing and disheartening news that the World War II vets in Britain still alive in Britain say

'This isn't the Britain we fought for'

Nearly 400,000 Britons died. Millions more were scarred by the experience, physically and mentally.
But was it worth it? Her answer - and the answer of many of her contemporaries, now in their 80s and 90s - is a resounding No.

They despise what has become of the Britain they once fought to save. It's not our country any more, they say, in sorrow and anger.

Sarah harks back to the days when 'people kept the laws and were polite and courteous. We didn't have much money, but we were contented and happy.

'People whistled and sang. There was still the United Kingdom, our country, which we had fought for, our freedom, democracy. But where is it now?

 British-Raf-Wwii

As a group, they feel furious at not being able to speak their minds.

They see the lack of debate and the damning of dissenters as racists or Little Englanders as deeply upsetting affronts to freedom of speech.

'Our British culture is draining away at an ever increasing pace,' wrote an ex-Durham Light Infantryman, 'and we are almost forbidden to make any comment.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:47 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2009

The Fall of the Wall

Widowed a little over a year, I went to Washington, D.C., a political appointee in the first Bush administration. In so doing, fulfilled a dream I had since childhood when I worked in John Kennedy's campaign for President. and was inspired by his "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"  In college,  I decided to major in government in college with a focus on foreign policy which in those days was all about the Cold War.  The stories of the brutalities in the Soviet Union and in China were horrific and forever inoculated me from leftism and from romantic ideologues who excused the cruelty and the brutishness of these regimes because their grand utopian ends justified any means.

I couldn't have imagined that 1989 would be a "year of miracles"  with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain across Eastern Europe.  Watching the news and seeing the euphoria of hundreds of thousands of people as they fled West was amazing, profoundly moving and exhilarating.  The long war won without a shot being fired because it was an evil empire rotten through and through.

For Christmas that year, I was given a piece of the Wall as a souvenir.  I held it in my hands, then burst into tears, thinking of all the people who had died in gulags and camps and by disastrous government policies that caused wide spread famine.  100 million victims.

 

Roger Kimball in Tyranny Set in Stone

Was there ever a more fitting monument to tyranny than the Berlin Wall? Conceived in desperation, this brutal barrier was erected in 1961 by the state not for the protection but for the incarceration of its citizens. Hold fast to that thought. The Berlin Wall was the stuff of gritty spy novels, the literal instantiation of Winston Churchill’s “iron curtain,” which in 1946, with characteristic prescience, he saw descending across Central and Eastern Europe.
--
What, finally, brought down the wall? The candidates for that honor are many, from the impersonal operation of History to the people-power of movements like Solidarity and the spiritual leadership of Pope John Paul II. Among Western academics, the role of Mikhail Gorbachev enjoys pride of place. His mantras of glasnost and perestroika (“openness” and “restructuring”) became favored terms in English. In the late 1980s, Gorbachev, the true-believing Communist, was the hero. Never mind that he wished to salvage the Soviet empire: he spoke to the hearts and minds of the Western intelligentsia in a way Ronald Reagan never did. Reagan, after all, had the temerity early on in his tenure to describe the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.” How the liberal establishment recoiled from, how it ridiculed that phrase. “The Western diplomatic firmament,” William F. Buckley Jr. recalled in 1990, “shook with indignation.”

Natan Sharansky, the Soviet dissident who became an Israeli politician, was confined to an eight by ten foot prison cell at the time  and later wrote

My Soviet jailers gave me the privilege of reading the latest copy of Pravda. Splashed across the front page was a condemnation of President Ronald Reagan for having the temerity to call the Soviet Union an "evil empire." Tapping on walls and talking through toilets, word of Reagan's "provocation" quickly spread throughout the prison. We dissidents were ecstatic. Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth--a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us.

Berlin-Wall Death Strip

John O Sullivan on Freedom's Triumph

Until 1989, Europe and the world were divided between freedom and communism. These two systems were in constant conflict, militarily, economically and ideologically even if their struggles were kept in some kind of stable equilibrium by the nuclear balance of terror. Most observers thought this Cold War was a permanent fact of life.

Ronald Reagan disagreed. He told friends his view of the Cold War was "We win, they lose."

This process began even before Reagan's election: In 1979, Pope John Paul II visited his native Poland and was greeted by a nation united with him against an isolated communist government.

It gathered steam when Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl were elected in America, Britain and West Germany on conservative platforms of installing US missiles in Europe to match the Soviet SS-20s. By 1984, the missiles had been installed in the face of a vast, Moscow-inspired "peace" campaign. At that point, we'd won; they'd lost.
--
There was a natural outburst of rejoicing throughout Europe — more from ordinary people on both sides of the Iron Curtain than from their cautious governments. In its 70-plus years of power, Soviet communism had murdered tens of millions of people; penned millions more in slave camps; corrupted those beyond its raw power; ruled through terror, censorship and lies; launched World War II jointly with the Nazis, and concealed its criminal rule behind a Potemkin façade of social idealism and scientific advance.

 Fall Berlin Wall

Wall St Journal, From Truman to Reagan, the benefits of moral clarity

Yet if the West's stand in Berlin demonstrates anything, it is that moral commitments have a way of reaping strategic dividends over time. By ordering the airlift in 1948, Harry Truman saved a starving city and defied Soviet bullying. As importantly, he showed that the U.S. would not abandon Europe to its furies, as it had after World War I, thus helping to pave the way for the creation of NATO in April 1949.

By holding firm for 40 years, Truman and his successors transformed what was supposed to be the Atlantic alliance's weakest point into its strongest. To know what the West stood for during most of those years, one merely had to go to Berlin, see the Wall, consider its purpose, and observe the contrasts between the vibrant prosperity on one side of the city and the oppressive monotony on the other.
--
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle," George Orwell once said. That is what the heroes of 1989 did with unblinking honesty and courage for years on end until, at last, the Wall came tumbling down.

David Pryce Jones in Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall suggests that the events that night in Berlin began with an unintended impression given by an East German official at a press conference and a frantic telephone call by a border agent that went unanswered.

Honecker would have had no scruple about giving orders to fire on the crowd, and nor would Erich Mielke, brutal head of the Stasi. Egon Krenz likes to boast that as prime minister he killed nobody but this was because he lost the chance to do so. Plans for armed repression certainly existed. Instead, as often seems the case at historic turning points, accident took over. Gyula Horn, on behalf of the Hungarian Communist party, decided to open the Hungarian section of the Iron Curtain. To a certain extent, the Hungarians wanted to make life difficult for the Soviets, but more generally, they hadn't perceived that from that moment East Germans would come and go as they pleased in huge numbers. The moment the Soviet bloc was no longer a properly controlled entity the Berlin Wall became a relic.
--
Günter Schabowski was the East German Politburo member who had the task of explaining to the world's press this sudden and unexpected breech in the Soviet empire. He had drawn the short straw. Maybe he was even an honest man, as such types go. Once he was no longer a Communist apparatchik, he took a job as a lowly journalist in Rothenburg, an unspoilt little town in West Germany, and there I interviewed him. At the outset of his famous press conference, he was to say, he had had no intention of declaring that the Berlin Wall was now open. But the questions threw him off balance, (Daniel Johnson, son of Paul Johnson, was one of the questioners) and he misspoke — as politicians like to put it — giving the unintended impression that people could indeed now cross the Wall freely.
--
Within a short time, the picks and jack-hammers were out and cheering people were dismantling the Wall. In another interview, I questioned the Stasi officer who had been on duty that night at the crucial point. When Schabowski's press conference brought the demonstrators charging towards him and his men, he would willingly have opened fire but needed the order to do so to cover himself. His urgent telephone call to his superiors for instructions went unanswered.

What is the likelihood that this was deliberate rather than incompetent? So this officer and his bewildered Stasi men were overrun with their weapons in hand, and so Schabowski played the sort of minor role on whom the plot turns that Shakespeare loved to write about, and so Gorbachev was as surprised as the rest of the world to be granted the great good fortune of entering the history books as the man who freed millions from Communism.

Such is history,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:27 PM | Permalink

"Lenin would have smiled"

 Berlinwall

Melanie Phillips writes We were fools to think the fall of the Berlin Wall had killed off the far Left. They're back - and attacking us from within

For many communist fellow travellers, the scales fell from their eyes when the Hungarian uprising was crushed in 1956. Others, over the years, lost faith not just in communism but in its less radical sister, socialism, as their core tenet of 'equality' proved itself in a myriad different ways to be the enemy of freedom and justice, with market forces appearing to carry the torch of liberty instead.

But as communism slowly crumbled, those on the far-Left who remained hostile towards western civilisation found another way to realise their goal of bringing it down.

This was what might be called 'cultural Marxism'. It was based on the understanding that what holds a society together are the pillars of its culture: the structures and institutions of education, family, law, media and religion. Transform the principles that these embody and you can thus destroy the society they have shaped.

This key insight was developed in particular by an Italian Marxist philosopher called Antonio Gramsci. His thinking was taken up by Sixties radicals  -  who are, of course, the generation that holds power in the West today.
--
with the development of the EU superstate we can see that the victory over one anti-democratic regime within Europe  -  the Soviet Union  -  has been followed by surrender to another.

For the republic of Euroland puts loyalty to itself higher than that to individual nations and their values. It refused to commit itself in its constitution to uphold Christianity, the foundation of western morality.

Instead, it is committed to moral and cultural relativism, which sets group against group and guarantees supreme and antidemocratic power to the bureaucrats setting the rules of 'diversity' and outlawing all dissent from permitted attitudes.

When the Berlin Wall fell, we told ourselves that this was the end of ideology. We could not have been more wrong.

The Iron Curtain came down only to be replaced by a rainbow-hued knuckle-duster, as our cultural commissars pulverise all forbidden attitudes in order to reshape western society into a post-democratic, post-Christian, post-moral universe. Lenin would have smiled.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:03 PM | Permalink

November 5, 2009

"The demise of a once- great nation has arrived without a vote being cast or a bullet fired."

The end of a 1000 years of history.

2009-11-05

Sold out to Europe by generations of weak, lying leaders

The drive by the Eurocrats to impose the Lisbon Treaty has made a mockery of democracy.  The Labour Government promised the British electorate a  referendum but disgracefully reneged on that pledge. Hugh Gaitskell would have been outraged by Brown’s refusal to keep his word. In his great 1962 speech he said that British  people had to be consulted about their future in Europe. The belief that the political élite knew best, he argued, “was an odious piece of hypocritical, supercilious, arrogant rubbish”.
--
WE will lose any vestige of control over our borders, our  justice system and our foreign policy
--
Our national embassies will be soon be superseded by those of the EU, while our Army will be subsumed within the new European Defence Force. EU control of all environmental policy will mean sweeping new regulations on everything from bin collections to petrol prices.

For the first time the
EU will have the power to raise its own taxes, bringing another heavy financial burden on the already oppressed British public.
--
Already 80 per cent of our laws are dictated by the EU. Lisbon will make Westminster redundant as an institution, there will be a Europe-wide police force, complete with all the  sinister intrusive powers of the modern surveillance state.
--
We can be sure that the fashionable ideology of political correctness will be rigorously enforced by our European masters, crushing the rich heritage of our Christian civilisation in the name of diversity. It is no coincidence that on the very day that the Lisbon Treaty was finally ratified by all 27 member states, the European Court ruled that crucifixes had to be banned in Italian schools for fear of offending minorities.   

The definition of dictatorship is the inability to remove from power those who govern us, no matter how corrupt or authoritarian they are. That is exactly what the post-Lisbon EU will be like, wielding unprecedented authority but accountable to none, insulated by privilege and riddled with abuses
--
But now,
without even a whimper, our politicians have thrown away our democratic liberties. What is even worse, the entire saga of our relationship with the EU has been based on the cynical deception of the public by the  political establishment.
--
"The demise of a once- great nation has arrived  without a vote being cast or a bullet fired.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

November 2, 2009

"Once, long ago, I was held captive in Kabul, Afghanistan."

Phyllis Chesler on A Lesson Learned in Kabul

Once, long ago, I was held captive in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Yes, I went there of my own free will, but I was only 20 years old and in love with my college sweetheart
--
If one survives such a grand and dangerous adventure, one learns some important lessons.

 Women-With-Burkas

--
Thus, at too young an age, I already understood that barbarism and hatred of the Other is indigenous to Islam; it is not caused by Western “evil.” Intra-tribal and religious-sect feuding is a permanent way of life in the wild, wild East.
--
I could never get anyone in the American civil rights, anti-war, feminist, or post-colonialist movements to understand this. They needed to blame the Big Bad West for the world’s problems. They also needed to identify the developing world as intrinsically innocent, pure, victimized.
--
My people: Western feminists, leftists, gay liberationists, progressives, absolutely refuse to stand up to Islam’s subordination and bestial persecution of women, dissidents, and homosexuals. The same activists who easily condemn Christianity and Judaism as “misogynists” are hushed about Islamic misogyny in practice.
-
Now I and a handful of others are trying to tell the truth about Islamic gender apartheid.  Those of us who are raising the alarm are being demonized as “Islamophobes,” “racists,” and “fascists.” Yet, in my opinion,
western civilization, beginning with Europe, will be won or lost on the issue of women’s rights.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:43 PM | Permalink

October 28, 2009

How Genuine Fascism Came to Britain

What happened in Britain that in that once great democracy,  one-fifth of the electorate would consider voting for the BNP, a genuine fascist party?

Shannon Love on The Collapse of the British Liberal Order

liberal orders don’t slowly evolve into authoritarian ones. Instead, they become less and less effective until they suddenly collapse into an authoritarian order. People simply lose faith that the liberal order can function and they throw their support behind an authoritarian order just to survive.
--
The major problem in resisting authoritarian orders is the simple fact that they usually work quite well in the short term. In the 1920s, Mussolini was widely admired across the political spectrum for saving Italy from imploding after years of red socialist strikes and violence had all but shut down the country. Hitler pulled Germany out of the Great Depression spectacularly. The communists did manage to rapidly industrialize peasant economies (albeit at a staggering cost in lives).
--
The BNP could very well rise to power by quickly and easily fixing problems that many Britons see going unaddressed by the left.

Britain faces major problems with a permanent economic underclass, low economic mobility, illegal immigration and a large, vocal and often violent unassimilated Islamic subculture. The native working class in particular feels squeezed by economic competition from low-cost immigrants. More importantly, they have seen themselves relegated in social status to the bottom of the heap.

 Britannia

So who lost Britain?  The Labour Party, once home to the working class.

Labour wanted mass immigration to make Britain more multicultural says former Labour advisor

The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and "rub the Right's nose in diversity", according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.
--
He said Labour's relaxation of controls was a deliberate plan to "open up the UK to mass migration" but that ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its "core working class vote".


Melanie Phillips writes The outrageous truth slips out: Labour cynically plotted to transform the entire make-up of Britain without telling us

There could not have been a more grave abuse of the entire democratic process. Now, however, we learn that this is exactly what did happen. The Labour government has been engaged upon a deliberate and secret policy of national cultural sabotage.
--
Now the political picture has been transformed overnight by the unguarded candour of Andrew Neather's eye-opening superciliousness. For now we know that Labour politicians actually caused this to happen - and did so out of total contempt for their own core voters.

David Pryce Jones on Nick Griffin, the BNP leader

Griffin is far from a Hitler or Mussolini, far even from suitably streamlined European fascists of today like Jorg Haidar or Jean-Marie Le Pen. Overweight, he waddles. His face seems designed to be incapable of smiling, and he has no humour, no powers of persuasion, no gift for repartee. This glum figure is undoubtedly a racist, an anti-Semite, an ignoramus, and a liar about the unsavory things he has done and said on his way towards the top of the BNP.
--
Griffin has only one point to make, namely that immigration is out of control and British people no longer feel that this is their country.
--
Nobody seems to have worked out that mass immigration and the welfare state are incompatible. British people see immigrants receiving benefits, housing, and the rest of it on a scale that is neither deserved nor available to them. Post-war governments, whether Conservative or Labour, have created this confusion and taken every measure to pretend either that it is not happening or that it doesn't matter.

Mike McNally on Britain's New Star on the Far, Far Right

The BNP speaks to the white working classes, a constituency which feels increasingly alienated, neglected, and abandoned by a “New” Labour party which once drew the bulk of its support from those same people. In broad terms, these are people who feel left behind by the pace of social and economic change. They are concerned about the erosion of what they see as their British identity under a government obsessed with promoting multiculturalism. More pressingly, they feel under pressure from mass immigration [3], angered by the continuing transfer of political power away from their elected leaders and into the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats of the European Union, concerned by rising crime, and alarmed by the spread of Islamic extremism.

Labour long ago lost the big battles of economic ideas to the Conservatives, but Britain’s cultural establishment has succeeded in making left-wing and “progressive” views on immigration, Europe, and crime the orthodoxy of the ruling classes, despite their unpopularity at the ballot box. (A former Labour advisor recently revealed how Tony Blair and his ministers encouraged mass immigration to socially engineer a “multicultural” Britain and “rub the right’s noses in diversity.”)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:57 AM | Permalink

September 18, 2009

Six-fold increase in horror films since 1999

Horror Films

Be Afraid—Be Very Afraid by David P. Goldman

The horror-film genre is multiplying like one of its own monsters, showing six-fold growth over the past decade—turning what used to be a Hollywood curiosity into a mainstream product. Not only the volume of films but their cruelty has increased, with explicit torture now a screen staple.
--

But there is a pattern to the highs and lows of the horror genre that may reflect something specific about Hollywood’s feeding of the mood of the United States—something about America’s encounter with truly horrible events, from the Second World War through Vietnam and down to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the lingering conflict in Iraq. Terror loiters in dark corners just off the public square.
--
Subgenres such as erotic horror (mainly centered on vampires) and torture (the Saw series, for example) dig deep into the vulnerabilities of the adolescent psyche. Given the success of these films over the past ten years, the number of Americans traumatizing themselves voluntarily is larger by an order of magnitude than it has ever been before.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:28 PM | Permalink

September 13, 2009

"We will dominate this country, my brothers"

Daniel Johnson reviews Christopher Caldwell's new book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.

In June 2009, an incident took place at Conway Hall in London’s Red Lion Square, the hallowed venue of secular leftist gatherings since the 1930s. Anjem Choudary, a radical Muslim preacher and leader of the Islamist organization al-Muhajiroun, was ejected after his followers attempted to segregate male and female members of the audience for a public debate. Choudary told the assembled media in the street outside: “This country is rife with social and economic problems and only Islam has the answer. Muslims are multiplying at a rate eight times faster than the kaffir. In a couple of generations this will be a Muslim country, inshallah. We will dominate this country, my brothers, and implement the beauty and perfection of Islam.” Al--Muhajiroun members greeted the speech with cheers and cries of “God is great” and “Sharia for the UK.” The crowd included Simon Keeler, the first white British Muslim convert convicted of inciting terrorism.


--
Caldwell’s revolution, on the other hand, does not look like the parent of a new settlement—unless it be the caliphate. He himself doubts whether Europe has the moral courage to win over its new immigrant populations in the contest for allegiance. He concludes on a pessimistic note: “For now, Islam is the stronger party in that contest, in an obvious demographic way and in a less obvious philosophical way. Words like ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ mean little when an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by common doctrines. It is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:44 PM | Permalink

August 2, 2009

"'Standing fatwa' against Islam's critics"

From Dwight Garner's review, A Turning Ride in Europe as Islam Gains Ground  of Christopher Caldwell's new book.

Through decades of mass immigration to Europe’s hospitable cities and because of a strong disinclination to assimilate, Muslims are changing the face of Europe, perhaps decisively. These Muslim immigrants are not so much enhancing European culture as they are supplanting it. The products of an adversarial culture, these immigrants and their religion, Islam, are “patiently conquering Europe’s cities, street by street.'


"Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West" (Christopher Caldwell)

--
Muslim cultures “have historically been Europe’s enemies, its overlords, or its underlings,” he deposes. “Europe is wagering that attitudes handed down over the centuries, on both sides, have disappeared, or can be made to disappear. That is probably not a wise wager.”
--
The problem, in Mr. Caldwell’s view, is less about sheer numbers than cultural divergence. What’s happening in Europe is not the creation of an American-style melting pot, he writes, because Muslims are not melting in. They are instead forming what he calls “a parallel society.” Newcomers to England now listen to Al Jazeera, not the BBC. They are hesitant to serve in their adopted country’s militaries. (As of 2007, Mr. Caldwell notes, there were only 330 Muslims in Britain’s armed forces.) Worse, these immigrants are bringing anti-Semitism back to Europe.
--
The most chilling observation in Mr. Caldwell’s book may be that the debate over Muslim immigration in Europe is one that the continent can’t openly have, because anyone remotely critical of Islam is branded as Islamophobic. Europe’s citizens — as well as its leaders, its artists and, crucially, its satirists — are scared to speak because of a demonstrated willingness by Islam’s fanatics to commit violence against their perceived opponents. There exists, Mr. Caldwell writes, a kind of “
standing fatwa” against Islam’s critics.
--
It is hard to argue with his ultimate observation about Europe today:
“When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture” (Europe’s) “meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by common doctrines” (Islam’s), “it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2009

"What goads one man to suicide goads another to renewed life"

After reading David Warren's latest column, I had to learn more about Tomas Masaryk the founder and first president of Czechoslovakia, a statesman, philosopher and sociologist, who had a most remarkable and exemplary life.

Karl Popper, The Prague Lecture 1994

60 years ago, there lived in the Hradcany Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the great founder of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, and its Liberator President. I deeply admire Masaryk. He was one of the most important pioneers of what I have called, one or two years after Masaryk's death, the Open Society. He was a pioneer of an open society, both in theory and in practice; indeed, the greatest of its pioneers between Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill.
--
Never was a new state – after all, the result of a revolution – so peaceful and so successful, and so much the creative achievement of one man. And all this was not due to the absence of great difficulties; it was the result of Masaryk, s philosophy, his wisdom and his personality in which personal courage, and truthfulness, and openness, played so conspicuous a role.

According to Wikipedia, his doctoral essay at the University of Vienna, was on the phenomenon of suicide which became a book, Suicide and the Meaning of Civilization and that is what David Warren references in The killing fields.

That
suicide is the ultimate subjective act, and thus, in effect, the final act of narcissism, was among the striking observations of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.
--
It was Masaryk's thesis that
suicide rates, already at historical highs, and climbing, in the more industrially advanced parts of Europe by the 1880s, would continue to rise through the decades ahead, with decreasing religiosity and increasing modernization.
--
This was not so much a question of religious denomination, as of religious practice. There would be a rough, inverse correlation between church attendance and the suicide rate. Later statistical studies have borne this out, and Masaryk thus stands among the few sociologists whose work retains any empirical value.

Masaryk grasped
the difference between depression and hopelessness, which we like to slur over today. Depression only makes one accident-prone; the real self-killer is the absence of hope for the future. This is a distinction that has been vindicated in psychiatric studies of the dying; it points directly to a dimension of human life that is irreducibly moral and religious.
--
People kill themselves for all sorts of stated reasons, but
what goads one man to suicide goads another to renewed life, and the only sound predictor is religious formation.

That's an astounding conclusion, "what goads one man to suicide goads another to renewed life"  and the only sound predictor is religious formation.  Without formation in and practice of  a religion, one has no tools to battle despair, meaninglessness and hopelessness. 

Warren himself concludes in a column whose main focus is euthanasia, the euphemism for murder.

The many symptoms of civilizational decay that lay partly concealed beneath the surface of society only recently came into full view, in the open pornography, the open nihilism, the despairing flippancy, visible throughout our contemporary public life. But the pond was long draining, and it is only now we see fish flopping in the mud.

Euthanasia is the final "life issue," the clincher for what the last pope called "the culture of death." Even when legalizing abortion, we agreed only to the slaughter of human beings we could not see. It was still possible to look away, to pretend we were not killing "real people," only "potential people." But when we embrace so-called "mercy killing," we embrace slaughter not only for the sick and old, but ultimately, the "option" of easy suicide for ourselves. It will be hard to go lower.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:38 PM | Permalink

July 20, 2009

Cure for radiation sickness found?

This is great news.

Dramatic discovery by Jewish-American scientists could change world; anti-radiation medication proves effective, safe in tests. Further experiments to be fast tracked, FDA approval possible within 1-2 years

The ground-breaking medication, developed by Professor Andrei Gudkov – Chief Scientific Officer at Cleveland BioLabs - may have far-reaching implications on the balance of power in the world, as states capable of providing their citizens with protection against radiation will enjoy a significant strategic advantage vis-à-vis their rivals.

For Israel, the discovery marks a particularly dramatic development that could deeply affect the main issue on the defense establishment's agenda: Protection against a nuclear attack by Iran or against "dirty bomb" attacks by terror groups.

Gudkov's discovery may also have immense implications for cancer patients by enabling doctors to better protect patients against radiation. Should the new medication enable cancer patients to be treated with more powerful radiation, our ability to fight the disease could greatly improve.
--

'Stable, safe, and easy to inject'
The company's subcontractor in Europe is already prepared to embark on mass production. Meanwhile, emergency regulations in Israel allow the government to purchase drugs on short notice, even if they are still in the process of being approved. Notably, the medication in question is not a vaccine, but rather, a preventative drug administered via one or several shots.

The medication works by suppressing the "suicide mechanism" of cells hit by radiation, while enabling them to recover from the radiation-induced damages that prompted them to activate the suicide mechanism in the first plac

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

July 15, 2009

Spiritual Barbarism

Thaddeus J. Kozinski calls the Pope A new St Benedict for the new Dark Ages

We tend to associate barbarism with images of primitive savages looting and pillaging villages, razing the walls of cities, and enslaving women and children. However, the Holy Father is suggesting here an entirely new kind of barbarism, one with a distinctly spiritual character. Civility is the quality of soul and society by which we recognize not only that other people exist, but also that they have the right to our courtesy, dignity, and respect. Civilization, then, as the opposite of barbarism, is founded upon the recognition of the dignity and rights of the other. Thus, a culture in which "the highest goals [are] one’s ego and one’s own desires" is the very definition of barbaric.
__
Today’s barbarism is of a distinctly spiritual nature
. It is not so much a physical as a philosophical barbarism that has overtaken Western culture, a barbarism of the soul that is camouflaged by a quite "civilized" bodily façade.
--
The philosophical barbarian does not wish to have any external demands imposed upon him, for he desires all of reality to conform to his presuppositions, prejudices, and plans. He is unwilling to open his soul fully to the objects and entities around him, for he does not trust that any good will come to himself from such vulnerability. Instead of accepting the imposition of an objectively real world with infinite plenitude and profundity, he imposes upon it his paltry perspective, thereby rejecting a rich, resplendent reality for a scanty and superficial one.
He reduces reality to the size of his shrunken soul. Since the less there is to know, the less there is to love, the end result of this barbaric state of soul, tantamount to staring at one’s spiritual navel, is perpetual, relentless boredom.
--
Boredom is the telltale sign of the starving soul, and today’s barbarians are starving for the two staple soul-foods: knowledge and community. Modern secular culture feeds its denizens plenty of "knowledge" in the form of technological know-how, scientific facts, ephemeral trivia, and politically correct aphorisms, but this is paltry fare with little nutritional value compared to the sumptuous banquet of truth they could have if they only recognized their hunger for it: they desire "know-how" regarding their souls; they pine for the meaning of things, not just for facts; they yearn to partake in the complex and elegant conversation with "the best that has been thought and said" that we call the Great Books, not politicized and pre-digested cant.
--
Most of all, these barbarians are starving for friendship, for intimacy, for communion. Growing up in dysfunctional families as orphans in their own homes, in neighborhoods where no one knows each other, in rootless communities in perpetual emigration, and in cities and suburbs where the empty blandishments of consumerism and mall shopping are what passes for festival; their desire for authentic friendship—to know and be known—has become rapacious.
--
Caritas in Veritate, "Charity in Truth." Our new Benedict’s encyclical is out, and its essential message, the power of love in truth and truth in love, when practiced, is precisely what could convert us love-sick and truth-starved barbarians.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:30 PM | Permalink

July 4, 2009

Freedom from Responsibility

 Jeffersonmemorial Fireworks-1

IN the years following his presidency, Thomas Jefferson had time to contemplate more deeply on freedom and reflect on the importance of education of the citizenry.

He wrote in 1810 in a letter to William Duane,  "The information of the people at large can alone make them the safe as they are the sole depositary of our political and religious freedom." 

Elsewhere he wrote in a letter to Charles Yancey in 1816, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

All of which makes even more alarming a recent  survey of Arizona high school students who were asked basic questions of citizenship that are asked in the test given to candidates for U.S. citizenship.    Only 3.5% of the public high school students passed!

•  More than 70 percent of Arizona high school students were unable to identify the  Constitution as the supreme law of the land.

•  75 percent were unable to correctly identify the first 10 amendments to the Constitution as “The Bill or Rights".

•  More than two-thirds of the students surveyed could not identify the two parts of the U.S. Congress.


•  Half of the public school students surveyed could not identify the two political parties in the U.S. 

•  Eighty-five percent of students surveyed did not know the length of a term of office for a U.S. Senator. 


•  Only 26 percent of students correctly answered “the President” when asked who is in charge of the Executive Branch of government 

•  Only  26.5 percent of students identified the first President of the United States as George Washington.

God help us if our schools can not educate students in the most basic elements of our history or the responsibilities of citizenship.    People are losing the true sense of freedom as a call to personal responsibility not escape from it.

When Pope Benedict visited the U.S. and spoke at the White House last year, he spoke of freedom in a fresh way. 

"Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. ...The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one's deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good. Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that "in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation," and a democracy without values can lose its very soul. Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent "indispensable supports" of political prosperity. values can lose its very soul. Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent "indispensable supports" of political prosperity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:02 AM | Permalink

What does Freedom require?

When it comes to personal behaviour we have now come to believe that there is no right and wrong. Instead, there are choices.

So writes Jonathan Sacks across the pond in Credo: Without a shared moral code there can be no freedom in our society.

What has been lost is trust — our trust in those we chose to look after our affairs — and trust is the basis of society. If we are to recover it, we must ask some deep questions.
--
I believe we have lost our traditional sense of morality. I do not mean that we are less moral than our grandparents. We care about things they hardly thought about: world poverty, inequality, global warming and the loss of biodiversity. We are more tolerant than they were.

But note this: the things we care about are vast, distant, global, remote. They are problems that require the co-ordinated action of millions, perhaps billions of people. The difference we as individuals can make to any one of them is minimal. That does not mean they are not important: they are. But they are issues of politics, not of morality in the conventional sense.

When it comes to personal behaviour we have now come to believe that there is no right and wrong. Instead, there are choices. The market facilitates those choices. The State handles the consequences, picking up the pieces when they go wrong.
--
Without conscience there can be no trust. Without a shared moral code there can be no free society. Either we recover the moral sense or we will find, too late, that in the name of liberty, we have lost our freedom.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:10 AM | Permalink

July 2, 2009

"Kitsch is a disease of faith" but "Beauty will save the world"

Roger Scruton on Beauty and its corruptions

Kitsch is a mould that settles over the entire works of a living culture, when people prefer the sensuous trappings of belief to the thing truly believed in. It is not only Christian civilisation that has undergone kitschification in recent times. Equally evident has been the kitschification of Hinduism and its culture. Massproduced Ganeshas have knocked the subtle temple sculpture from its aesthetic pedestal; in bunjee music the talas of Indian classical music are blown apart by tonal harmonies and rhythm machines; in literature the sutras and puranas have been detached from the sublime vision of Brahman and reissued as childish comic-strips.

Simply put,
kitsch is a disease of faith. Kitsch begins in doctrine and ideology and spreads from there to infect the entire world of culture. The Disneyfication of art is simply one aspect of the Disneyfication of faith -and both involve a profanation of our highest values. Kitsch, the case of Disney reminds us, is not an excess of feeling but a deficiency. The world of kitsch is in a certain measure a heartless world, in which emotion is directed away from its proper target towards sugary stereotypes, permitting us to pay passing tribute to love and sorrow without the trouble of feeling them.
--

Scrutonbeauty
"Beauty" (Roger Scruton)


The paradox, however, is that the relentless pursuit of artistic innovation leads to a cult of nihilism. The attempt to defend beauty from pre-modernist kitsch has exposed it to postmodernist desecration. We seem to be caught between two forms of sacrilege, the one dealing in sugary dreams, the other in savage fantasies. Both are forms of falsehood, ways of reducing and demeaning our humanity. Both involve a retreat from the higher life, and a rejection of its principal sign, which is beauty. But both point to the real difficulty, in modern conditions, of leading a life in which beauty has a central place.
--

To point to this feature of our condition is not to issue an invitation to despair. It is one mark of rational beings that they do not live only -- or even at all -- in the present.
They have the freedom to despise the world that surrounds them and to live in another way. The art, literature and music of our civilisation remind them of this, and also point to the path that lies always before them: the path out of desecration towards the sacred and the sacrificial. And that, in a nutshell, is what beauty teaches us.

Fyodor Dostoevsky once made an enigmatic remark, "Beauty will save the world" about which  Alexander Solzhenitsyn organized his Nobel Lecture on Literature in 1970

And so perhaps that old trinity of Truth and Good and Beauty is not just the formal outworn formula it used to seem to us during our heady, materialistic youth. If the crests of these three trees join together, as the investigators and explorers used to affirm, and if the too obvious, too straight branches of Truth and Good are crushed or amputated and cannot reach the light—yet perhaps the whimsical, unpredictable,
unexpected branches of Beauty will make their way through and soar up to that very place and in this way perform the work of all three.

And in that case it was not a slip of the tongue for Dostoyevsky to say that “Beauty will save the world,” but a prophecy. After all, he was given the gift of seeing much, he was extraordinarily illumined.

And consequently perhaps art, literature, can in actual fact help the world of today.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

June 29, 2009

Nervous in Hawaii

The great holiday weekend of the summer approaches and everyone is making plans to celebrate the 4th of July.

But in Hawaii, there's a great deal of apprehension ever since reports emerged that North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July.

Now with a crazy madman in North Korea, Pakistan in turmoil and the security of its nuclear missiles uncertain, and Iran determined to go forward, despite all objections,  to arm itself with nuclear weapons, it is clear that the nuclear threat is graver than it has ever been before.  Some  might argue that the Cold War was worse, but MAD or mutually assured destruction worked.  The Soviets were rational; something that can not be said of Iran and North Korea. 

The much-derided anti-missle defense technology, dubbed 'Star Wars', has proven in tests to be increasingly effective.
And in my mind, just in time.    Of all the programs to cut then, why was missile defense chosen?

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said last week that U.S. would deploy ground and sea-based missile defense assets to protect Hawaii just in case. 

But an editorial in the Washington Times says
new information suggests that the administration is bluffing and our defenses are inadequate to get the job done.
--
The Obama administration also has cut funding for the European missile-defense shield, leaving our allies in Poland and the Czech Republic in the lurch after they took a major political risk to support the program
__
The Obama administration's hostility to missile defense is inexplicable. The missile threat is growing, and defensive technology is increasingly effective, yet the Obama team has dug in stubbornly behind a losing strategy that emboldens our enemies and places us in greater danger. No wonder Hawaiians are nervous.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:01 PM | Permalink

June 12, 2009

"Too civilized to survive"

According to his own bio, Takuan Seiyo
was born in Communist Eastern Europe and socialized there and then in Switzerland, France and elsewhere. He received his university education and was naturalized in the United States, but interest in some aspects of the Japanese culture took him eventually to Japan, where he now lives. He describes himself as bi-racial, tri-national, quadri-degreed, quinti-lingual and sexto-ethnic.

Maybe that's why he is such an original voice and one of the strongest against the galloping lunacy all over the world.
He's not for everyone, but he's worth reading for his thoughts on why Western civilization is so imperiled and seemingly so helpless at the threats that aim to destroy it.

At the Brussels Journal is his multi-part series called From Meccania to Atlantis., Part 12 is called Swallowed by Leviathan.

His basic thesis is that "podism" is like a mental virus
programmed for white people’s (2) collective guilt and self-loathing, irrational and false assumptions about the superior virtue and moral deservedness of nonwhites, nondiscrimination as the highest value, ahistorical and utopian delusions, and the conviction that the road to universal peace and brotherhood hinges on the unilateral self-disablement of the West’s collective survival mechanism and the disablement of autochthon Westerners’ individual (3) survival mechanisms as well.

In more new-agey terms

Another way of putting it is that after decades of promoting yin (i.e. the cosmic female element) and suppressing yang (i.e. the cosmic male element), the West now suffers from yin toxemia. As per Chinese Taoist precepts, this produces an overabundance of the soft, wet, squishy, sweet, flabby, irrational, diffuse energy that characterizes yin, and a shortage of the hard, dry, salty, muscular, rational and compacting male (i.e. yang) energy that could rectify this imbalance.

The yin-soaked West rests on a foundation of feelings. It feels for the plight of the female trapped in a male body, the Somali who has never seen indoor plumbing, and the abandoned son of a Kenyan exchange student who made good. That all such feelings translate into actions that dismantle the West financially, demographically and culturally no longer registers, for reason no longer registers, nor does survival. This is the age of I feel, therefore I am. The essence of yin.

The West is no longer able to deal with the abundant yang characteristics of the nonwhite, male-dominated ethnic groups – acting as “minorities” on the inside, and rogue and semi-rogue nations on the outside.
-------
.... the Islamic movement has turned the civility of the Western peoples into a weapon against them. It has weaponized niceness, compassion and the fundamental decency of Western Civilization. “We have become too civilized to defeat our enemies, perhaps too civilized to survive.” 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

June 5, 2009

The Retirement Aristocracy

Given the state of the economy and the public debts we are incurring, much less the cost of Medicare and Social Security, I predict we are just beginning to see the intergenerational conflict and struggle that's headed our way.

Here's a taste from the Daily Mail. Baby boomer generation are 'retirement aristocracy' who will make younger generations pay.

The baby boomer generation are 'retirement aristocracy' as they hold lucrative pensions that will be paid for, but unavailable to, younger workers.

People who are more than 50 years old will walk away with the most valuable pensions as they benefited from gold-plated final salary schemes while their firms could still afford them.

But now these people, who are typically in white collar management roles, have 'pulled up the ladder' to younger workers to protect their huge pots.

Younger workers are also being forced to pay the cost of maintaining final salary pensions to the dwindling band of older workers in such schemes.

And they are having to accept far less attractive pension schemes which will barely support them in retirement.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 PM | Permalink

June 1, 2009

The "Evil Empire of Europe"

In my mind, one of the reasons  American newspapers dying is that they are boring and predictable.  It's rare to read such lively and scathing opinion as you can find any day in the British press. 

This week, voters go to the poll to elect members of the European parliament to which Gerald Warner writes  Now is the time to leave the evil empire of Europe.

The European Union is an enclosed tyranny, addicted to micromanagement of its subjects' lives and devoid of any kind of cultural coherence. It is the worst example in world history of the arrogance and wastefulness of an untrammelled bureaucracy. The greatest single step Britain could take towards freedom and self-fulfilment would be to remove itself from the control of this behemoth.

The EU, like its partner in corruption the United Nations, is a totally artificial construct. It has no roots in any real society and exists only as a vehicle for the power-hungry and the greedy to indulge their unhealthy appetites. Guarantor of European peace? Get real: who seriously believes we would have spent any part of the past 40 years at war with Germany, but for the benevolent interposition of Brussels? Metternich's Concert of Europe it is not.
--

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:53 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2009

The first capital of Eurabia is Rotterdam.

The Capital of Eurabia is Rotterdam by Sandro Magister

Here entire neighborhoods look like the Middle East, women walk around veiled, the mayor is a Muslim, sharia law is applied in the courts and the theaters. An extensive report from the most Islamized city in Europe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 PM | Permalink

May 12, 2009

The "Yuppie Buffer" is driving contractors crazy

George Packer on The View from a Roofer's Recession  via Crunchy Con

It’s the technology,” the roofer said. “They don’t know how to deal with a human being. They stand there with that text shrug”—he hunched his shoulders, bent his head down, moved from side to side, looking anywhere but at me—“and they go, ‘Ah, ah, um, um,’ and they just mumble. They can’t talk any more.” This inadequacy with physical space and direct interaction was an affliction of the educated, he said—“the more educated, the worse.”  His poorer black customers in Bedford-Stuyvesant had no such problem, and he was much happier working on their roofs, but the recession had slowed things down there and these days he was forced to deal almost entirely with the cognitively damaged educated and professional classes.
----
“They hire someone—this has happened several times—so they don’t have to talk to me,” he went on, growing more animated and reddening with amazement. “It’s like they’re afraid of me! So they hire a guy who’s more comfortable dealing with a masculine-type person. I stand there and talk to the customer, and the customer doesn’t talk to me or look at me, he talks to the intermediary, and the intermediary talks to me.
It’s the yuppie buffer.”
--
This was a completely new phenomenon in the roofer’s world:
a mass upper class that was so immersed in symbolic and digital cerebration that it had become incapable of carrying out the most ordinary functions—had become, in effect, like small children with Asperger’s symptoms

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:20 PM | Permalink

Access refused to books on top shelves

Books Out of Reach at Never Yet Melted

The Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford, where many a ruminative afternoon was spent by the likes of Gladstone and Attlee, Wilde and Shelly, and Hawking and Tim Berners-Lee, has made the books in its uppermost shelves out of bounds for students—or anyone else for that matter.

The reason: three-year-old British health and safety regulations that the library’s authorities happened to trip upon recently. Better late than never, the library has deemed the use of stepladders to be too risky for a scholar’s life and limb. The momentous decision has been arrived at irrespective of the fact that in the centuries of its existence, no untoward incident is on record to have occurred in the Bodleian owing to the use of ladders for reaching books in the higher rows.

Another idiotic submission to the nanny state, better expressed by the writer of the post, David Zincavage:

The Bodleian’s high shelf books are exactly like mankind’s history, tradition, and the experience of all our deceased predecessors: out of the reach of contemporary idiots.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 PM | Permalink

May 2, 2009

Customs, traditions and moral values, not the law, are civilized society's first line of defense

Walter Williams on Law vs Moral Values

A civilized society's first line of defense is not the law, police and courts but customs, traditions and moral values. Behavioral norms, mostly transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings, represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. They include important thou-shalt-nots such as shalt not murder, shalt not steal, shalt not lie and cheat, but they also include all those courtesies one might call ladylike and gentlemanly conduct. The failure to fully transmit values and traditions to subsequent generations represents one of the failings of the so-called greatest generation.
-----
During the 1940s, my family lived in North Philadelphia's Richard Allen housing project. Many families didn't lock doors until late at night, if ever. No one ever thought of installing bars on their windows. Hot, humid summer nights found many people sleeping outside on balconies or lawn chairs. Starting in the '60s and '70s, doing the same in some neighborhoods would have been tantamount to committing suicide. Keep in mind that the 1940s and '50s were a time of gross racial discrimination, high black poverty and few opportunities compared to today. The fact that black neighborhoods were far more civilized at that time should give pause to the excuses of today that blames today's pathology on poverty and discrimination.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:55 AM | Permalink

April 29, 2009

"Who will win the war for the soul of Western Europe?"

Bruce Bawer in the Wall Street Journal on Western European voters' widespread reaction against social democracy.

The shift has two principal, and related, causes. The more significant one is that over the past three decades, social-democratic Europe's political, cultural, academic and media elites have presided over, and vigorously defended, a vast wave of immigration from the Muslim world—the largest such influx in human history.
--
Yet instead of encouraging these immigrants to integrate and become part of their new societies, Western Europe's governments have allowed them to form self-segregating parallel societies run more or less according to Shariah. Many of the residents of these patriarchal enclaves subsist on government benefits, speak the language of their adopted country poorly or not at all, despise pluralistic democracy, look forward to Europe's incorporation into the House of Islam, and support—at least in spirit—terrorism against the West. A 2006 Sunday Telegraph poll, for example, showed that 40% of British Muslims wanted Shariah in Britain, 14% approved of attacks on Danish embassies in retribution for the famous Mohammed cartoons, 13% supported violence against those who insulted Islam, and 20% sympathized with the July 2005 London bombers.

Too often, such attitudes find their way into practice. Ubiquitous youth gangs, contemptuous of infidels, have made European cities increasingly dangerous for non-Muslims—especially women, Jews and gays.
--
Who will win the war for the soul of Western Europe? The Islamofascists and their multiculturalist appeasers, many of whom seem to believe that their job is not to defend democracy but to help make the transition to Shariah as smooth as possible? The nativist cryptofascists? Or Pim Fortuyn's freedom-loving heirs?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink

April 26, 2009

More on Solar Superstorms and the" Geomagnetic Apocalypse"

Wired has picked up the story that I wrote about  Solar Superstorms calling it The Geomagnetic Apocalypse and tells us - And How to Stop It.

For scary speculation about the end of civilization in 2012, people usually turn to followers of cryptic Mayan prophecy, not scientists. But that's exactly what a group of NASA-assembled researchers described in a chilling report issued earlier this year on the destructive potential of solar storms.

Entitled "Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts," it describes
the consequences of solar flares unleashing waves of energy that could disrupt Earth's magnetic field, overwhelming high-voltage transformers with vast electrical currents and short-circuiting energy grids. Such a catastrophe would cost the United States "$1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year," concluded the panel, and "full recovery could take four to 10 years." That would, of course, be just a fraction of global damages.
---
Worse yet, the next period of intense solar activity is expected in 2012, and coincides with the presence of an unusually large hole in Earth's geomagnetic shield, meaning we'll have less protection than usual from the solar flares.

 Geomagnetic Superstorm

--
Wired.com talked to Joseph and John Kappenman, CEO of electromagnetic damage consulting company MetaTech, about the possibility of geomagnetic apocalypse — and how to stop it.
--

John Kappenman: We've got a big, interconnected grid that spans across the country. Over the years, higher and higher operating voltages have been added to it. This has  escalated our vulnerability to geomagnetic storms. These are not a new thing. They've probably been occurring for as long as the sun has been around. It's just that we've been unknowingly building an infrastructure that's acting more and more like an antenna for geomagnetic storms.

--
What we're proposing is to add some fairly small and inexpensive resistors in the transformers' ground onnections. The addition of that little bit of resistance would significantly reduce the amount of the geomagnetically induced currents that flow into the grid.
--
In its simplest form, it's something that might be made out of cast iron or stainless steel, about the size of a washing machine.
--
If you're talking about the United States, there are about 5,000 transformers to consider this for. The Electromagnetic Pulse Commission recommended it in a report they sent to Congress last year. We're talking about $150 million or so. It's pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

Big power lines and substations can withstand all the other known environmental challenges. The problem with geomagnetic storms is that we never really understood them as a vulnerability, and had a design code that took them into account.
--
Wired.com: Can it be done in time?

Kappenman: I'm not in the camp that's certain a big storm will occur in 2012. But given time, a big storm is certain to occur in the future. They have in the past, and they will again. They're about one-in-400-year events. That doesn't mean it will be 2012. It's just as likely that it could occur next week.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink

April 23, 2009

Solar superstorms and our electrical grids

I continue to remain baffled about the anxieties over climate change since that is what climates do.  Far more worrying to me than the hypothetical worries about global warming,  far more immediate and far more dangerous to our way of life are solar superstorms. 

Meltdown! A solar superstorm could send us back into the dark ages - and one is due in just three years

This catastrophe is not some academic one-in-a-million chance scenario.

It is a very real threat which, according to a report in the latest issue of New Scientist, remains one of the most potent, yet least recognised, threats to the future of human civilisation.
--

Daniel Baker, a space weather expert at the University of Colorado, prepared a report for the U.S. National Academy of Sciences last month, and the conclusions make grim reading.

'Every year, our human technology becomes more vulnerable,' he says.

A repeat of the 1859 Carrington event today would have far graver consequences than the frying of some telegraph wires.

The problem comes with our dependence on electricity and the way this electricity is generated and transmitted.

A huge solar storm would cause massive power surges, amounting to billions of unwanted watts surging through the grids.

Most critically, the transformers which convert the multi-thousand-volt current carried by the pylons into 240v domestic current would melt  -  thousands of them, in every country.

This would bring the world to its knees. With no electricity, we would not just be in the dark.

We are dependent, to a degree few of us perhaps appreciate, on a functioning grid for our survival. All our water and sewage plants run on electricity.

A couple of days after a solar superstorm, the taps would run dry.

Within a week, we would lose all heat and light as reserves ran out, the supermarket shelves would run empty and the complex supply and distribution networks upon which our society depends would have started to break down.

No telephones, no medicines, no manufacturing, no farming  -  and no food.

Global communications and travel would also collapse  -  a solar superstorm would probably destroy the network of GPS satellites upon which every airline depends.

So could this really happen? And why is 2012 a year to worry about? Well, we know that solar superstorm did happen, back in 1859.

And we know that 20 years ago a much smaller storm knocked out the power grid across much of eastern Canada, leaving nine million people without electricity.

We also know that the Sun's activity waxes and wanes in 11-year cycles.

Currently, the Sun is very quiet. But a solar maximum  -  a peak of activity  -  is predicted for 2012, and this is when a superstorm could strike, probably around either the spring or autumn equinox, when the orientation of the Earth's magnetic field to the Sun makes us very vulnerable.

The main point is that every solar maximum puts us more in danger as our growing population becomes ever more dependent on electricity.

I'm curious as to what the government is doing to harden the electrical infrastructure.

We learned earlier this month that the electricity grid in the U.S. has been penetrated by cyberspies.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

The electrical grid is the soft underbelly of our economy.  What is being done to harden it? 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2009

"I have seen the future, and it's riots"

Britain's Naked Public Square

[T]he piecemeal persecution of Christians in Britain is even more damaging—and it has now become routine.
--
Jeremy Vine is a highly visible BBC broadcaster and a practicing Anglican. In a recent interview, Vine explained how difficult it had become to speak of his faith on air. It is, he claimed, now “socially unacceptable” to mention one’s Christian faith in public. Society in Britain has become intolerant of the freedom to express the religious views that were “common currency thirty or forty years ago,” Vine added. “The parameters of what you might call ‘right thinking” are closing. Sadly, it is almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God.” All of which is unsurprising, given that last year Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC and a practicing Catholic, issued an edict stating that the BBC should treat Islam “more sensitively” than Christianity.
--
The problem is that the government and media of Great Britain have put in place over the last few decades a determined program to abolish the influence of Christianity. It’s a little late now for believers to pretend surprise that such a program exists and has consequences—to be shocked that a community nurse should be fired for offering to pray for a patient or astonished that a culture that set out to devalue its values should find itself awash in crime, sex, and social discord. We need, rather, to do as the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, insisted when he asked his congregants to “wake up” and defend their faith before it is further marginalized. “Christians should reclaim,” as the Anglican bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, recently demanded, their “place in the public square.”


If people who believe in the sanctity of life don't speak up or are afraid to speak in the public square, there will be no stopping such abominations such as the recently proposed directive from the EU.  EU 'to put animals before embryos'

The European Union is to radically restrict laboratory testing on animals - by insisting human embryos are used by scientists for research instead.

Toxicology tests on animals will be permitted only after similar research on tissue taken from human embryos has proved fruitless, according to a proposed new directive from the European Commission (EC).

And no one to speak out against  people like Patricia Hewitt, former Health Minister under Tony Blair, who wants to see suicide/euthanasia clinics set up across the country

The future of Europe without practicing Christianity is chilling.  Theodore Dalrymple in Europe is a Riot

As if this were not enough, the government has done all in its power to ensure that there are no forms of social solidarity that do not pass through a government department—it went to the trouble of de facto nationalizing all the major charities well before it nationalized the banks. Forty-two percent of British children are now born illegitimate, and at least 25 percent can expect to live in a single-parent household, while many others live with serial step-parents, which is perhaps worse still. This is not a form of family life that can exist on a mass scale without state subvention, which if suddenly withdrawn or greatly reduced would plunge large numbers of people into real poverty. It conduces to common criminality, which is now rampant in Britain.
--

Not long ago, I had occasion to stay for a few weeks in a once-industrial town in the north of England. The last steel mills had just closed down. I was surprised by the elegance of much of the early 19th-century architecture, now completely overwhelmed by the brutalism of the 1960s and ’70s. The prematurely middle-aged spent their time looking for secondhand clothes in charity shops. Pawnshops had also made a big comeback. Feral young men with an expression of urban predation on their faces stood around on street corners in nylon tracksuits and hoods, muttering f---ing this and f---ing that to one another. About half the people in the street were unemployed young immigrants, mainly of Middle Eastern origin, on the lookout for a bit of small-scale trafficking. Some took advantage of free Internet access in the public library—a concrete building aesthetically suitable as the headquarters of the Stasi—to look at inflammatory political sites or to search for women.

I have seen the future, and it’s riots

The  only hopeful words I could find this weekend were those of Pope Benedict in Angola at a Mass for a Million

The words which Jesus speaks in today's Gospel are quite striking: He tells us that God's sentence has already been pronounced upon this world (cf. Jn 3:19ff). The light has already come into the world. Yet men preferred the darkness to the light, because their deeds were evil. How much darkness there is in so many parts of our world! Tragically, the clouds of evil have also overshadowed Africa, including this beloved nation of Angola. We think of the evil of war, the murderous fruits of tribalism and ethnic rivalry, the greed which corrupts men's hearts, enslaves the poor, and robs future generations of the resources they need to create a more equitable and just society -- a society truly and authentically African in its genius and values. And what of that insidious spirit of selfishness which closes individuals in upon themselves, breaks up families, and, by supplanting the great ideals of generosity and self-sacrifice, inevitably leads to hedonism, the escape into false utopias through drug use, sexual irresponsibility, the weakening of the marriage bond and the break-up of families, and the pressure to destroy innocent human life through abortion?
--
Yet the word of God is a word of unbounded hope. "God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son ... so that through him, the world might be saved" (Jn 3:16-17). God does not give up on us! He continues to lift our eyes to a future of hope, and he promises us the strength to accomplish it. As Saint Paul tells us in today's second reading, God created us in Christ Jesus "to live the good life", a life of good deeds, in accordance with his will (cf. Eph 2:10). He gave us his commandments, not as a burden, but as a source of freedom: the freedom to become men and women of wisdom, teachers of justice and peace, people who believe in others and seek their authentic good. God created us to live in the light, and to be light for the world around us! This is what Jesus tells us in today's Gospel: "The man who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God" (Jn 3:21).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:40 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2009

"Taking advantage of mass starvation"

In the New Criterion, The lingering stench: airing Stalin's archives by Gary Saul Morson unveils the horrors of the Soviet regime. 

For those who think it's cool to hang posters of Lenin, read this

And despite the desperate strategy of throwing all blame on Stalin so as to excuse Lenin, The Unknown Lenin, which reproduces a selection from some six thousand Lenin documents never before released, reveals bloodthirstiness that surprised even anti-Communists.
During a famine, Lenin ordered his followers not to alleviate but to take advantage of mass starvation:

It is precisely now and only now when in the starving regions people are eating human flesh, and hundreds if not thousands of corpses are littering the roads, that we can (and therefore must) carry out the confiscation of church valuables with the most savage and merciless energy.


“an (and therefore must)”: Leninist and Soviet ideology held not just that the end justifies any means, but also that it was immoral not to use the utmost cruelty if that would help. And it was bound to help in at least one way—intimidating the population. From the beginning, terror was not just an expedient but a defining feature of Soviet Communism.

In Terrorism and Communism,
Trotsky was simply voicing a Bolshevik truism when he rejected “the bourgeois theory of the sanctity of human life.” In fact, Soviet ethics utterly rejected human rights, universal justice, or even basic human decency, for all concepts that apply to everyone might lead one to show mercy to a class enemy. In Bolshevism, there is no abstract justice, only “proletarian justice,” as defined by the Party.
---
Perhaps the most important lesson to come from the Stalin archives is that any ideology that does not admit the existence of human nature winds up destroying not only countless lives but also the human soul.

Seeing again how easy it is to be sub human, less than human, I am reminded again that  human beings are the only creatures that can fail to achieve their true nature. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:47 PM | Permalink

“It was the emphasis on love"

In today's Britain, a woman who was raped by her father and faced a forced marriage, fled her home, became a Christian and now fears for her life.

My imam father came after me with an axe.

We are all too familiar with the persecution of Christians in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yet sitting in front of me is a British woman whose life has been threatened in this country solely because she is a Christian. Indeed, so real is the threat that the book she has written about her experiences has had to appear under an assumed name.

That assumed name is Hannah Shah and her book, The Imam's Daughter, was just published in the U.K. but not yet in the U.S.

The book is called The Imam’s Daughter because “Hannah Shah” is just that: the daughter of an imam in one of the tight-knit Deobandi Muslim Pakistani communities in the north of England. Her father emigrated to this country from rural Pakistan some time in the 1960s and is, apparently, a highly respected local figure.

He is also an incestuous child abuser, repeatedly raping his daughter from the age of five until she was 15, ostensibly as part of her punishment for being “disobedient”. At the age of 16 she fled her family to avoid the forced marriage they had planned for her in Pakistan. A much, much greater affront to “honour” in her family’s eyes, however, was the fact that she then became a Christian – an apostate. The Koran is explicit that apostasy is punishable by death; thus it was that her father the imam led a 40-strong gang – in the middle of a British city – to find and kill her. 

Hannah Shah says her story is not unique – that there are many other girls in British Muslim families who are oppressed and married off against their will, or who have secretly become Christians but are too afraid to speak out. She wants their voices to be heard and for Britain, the land of her birth, to realise the hidden misery of these women....
---


Hannah’s description in the book of the moment when her “community” discovered the “safe” home where she had fled after becoming an apostate is terrifying. A mob with her father at its head pounded and hammered at the door as she cowered upstairs hoping she could not be seen or heard. She heard her father shout through the letter box: “Filthy traitor! Betrayer of your faith! Cursed traitor! We’re going to rip your throat out! We’ll burn you alive!”

Does she still believe they would have killed her? “Yes, without a doubt. They had hammers and knives and axes.”

Why didn’t you call the police after-wards? “First, I didn’t think the police would believe me. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen in this country – or that’s what they’d think. Second, I didn’t believe I would get help or protection from the authorities.”

When she finally confided in a teacher that she was being beaten, still too ashamed to confide about the sexual abuse, the teacher contacted social services who sent out a social worker from her own community. 

He chose not to believe Hannah and, in effect, shopped her to her father, who gave her the most brutal beating of her life. When she later confronted the social worker, he said: “It’s not right to betray your community.

Hannah blames what is sometimes called political correctness for this debacle: “My teachers had thought they were doing the right thing, they thought it showed ‘cultural sensitivity’ by bringing in someone from my own community to ‘help’, but it was the worst thing they could have done to me. This happens a lot.

Her conversion came about because the family who sheltered her were regular church-goers.

She began to go with them and, to put it at its most banal, she liked what she heard.

“It was the emphasis on love.

The Islam that I grew up knowing and reading about doesn’t offer me love. That’s the biggest thing that Christianity can and does offer. I sense that I belong and am accepted as I am – even when I do wrong there is forgiveness, a forgiveness which Islam does not offer.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:05 PM | Permalink

February 16, 2009

Who Lost Britain?

After being invited to the House of Lords to attend a showing of his 17 minute film Fitna, Geert Wilders was denied entry into Britain

On his flight to London, he told The London Times that the British Government was “the biggest bunch of cowards in Europe..."They (the British government) are more Chamberlain than Churchill."

Why?  We know why.  Still, it was news to me that the CIA warned Barack Obama that British terrorists are the biggest threat to the U.S.
A British intelligence source revealed that a staggering four out of 10 CIA operations designed to thwart direct attacks on the US are now conducted against targets in Britain.

One former intelligence officer who does contract work for the CIA dismissed Britain as a "swamp" of jihadis.
Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, admitted in January that the Security Service alone does not have the resources to maintain surveillance on all its targets. "We don't have anything approaching comprehensive coverage," he said.

Mike McNally on Why Britain Should Never Have Banned Geert Wilders

For the last couple of years I’ve been holding out against those who claim the spread of Islamic extremism in Britain, the reluctance of the government to combat it forcefully for fear of offending Muslims, and the reluctance of the media, legal, and political establishments to even discuss the issue spell doom for the country. My argument was that while such appeasement and cultural self-loathing make it difficult for us to win the war against the extremists, we could never lose it.

Unfortunately, it looks like we just lost.
--

Our long and proud tradition of tolerance and free speech is in tatters. It’s doubtful that many of the ministers and officials involved in the decision to ban Wilders have even seen Fitna, the Internet film that shot him to notoriety. Foreign Secretary David Miliband, wheeling out the trope that “the right to free speech doesn’t include the right to yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater,” claimed the film contained “extreme anti-Muslim hate.” If Miliband has seen the film, then he’s lying; if he hasn’t seen it, he’s guessing. There’s extreme hate, for sure, but it’s all coming from Muslims. Fitna uses the words of Muslims themselves, in the form of verses from the Koran and video clips of extremist preachers, juxtaposed with footage of terrorist attacks.

David Pryce-Jones

Things are happening on the political scene in Britain which even a few short years ago would have been unthinkable.
--
He is, Jacqui Smith's Home Office pretends, nothing less than a threat to "public security."

How so? Wilders was invited by a member of the House of Lords to show their lordships his film Fitna, all seventeen minutes of it. Among the meanings of this Arabic word in Wehr's Dictionary are "sedition, riot, discord, dissension, civil strife." The film is out to show that the Qur'an contains verses that encourage these bad outcomes, setting Muslims against themselves and others. This is a serious argument, even if clips of terror outrages make the film deliberately sensational, even lurid. Unfortunately, the acts of terror are real, and readings from the Qur'an bear upon them.
--
Free speech has been a particularly English glory since Milton first argued that it was a principle of freedom itself. Dissidents, rebels, and freedom fighters from Karl Marx and Mazzini to Stalin and Salman Rushdie have had the opportunity to say what they wanted, whether or not anyone disapproved. Now thanks to one Jacqui Smith, so comfortably padded by the taxpayer, this principle of freedom is suspended.

Geert Wilders faces criminal prosecution in the Netherlands for "inciting hatred and discrimination: and "insulting Muslim worshippers" through his public statements and his 2008 film Fitna as a result of pressure put on European states by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) writes Bat Yeor on Geert Wilders and the Fight for Europe

The OIC is one of the largest intergovernmental organizations in the world. It encompasses 56 Muslim states plus the Palestinian Authority. Spread over four continents, it claims to speak in the name of the ummah (the universal Muslim community), which numbers about 1.3 billion. The OIC’s mission is to unite all Muslims worldwide by rooting them in the Koran and the Sunnah — the core of traditional Islamic civilization and values.

--
The OIC is a unique organization — one that has no equivalent in the world. It unites the religious, economic, military, and political strength of 56 states. By contrast, the European Union represents half as many states and is a secular body only, and the Vatican — which speaks for the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics — is devoid of any political power. Many Muslims in the West resist the OIC’s tutelage and oppose its efforts to supplant Western law with sharia. But the OIC’s resources are formidable.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

February 10, 2009

Banned in Britain

Invited to visit the British House of Lords, Geert Wilders, member of the Dutch parliament, found himself being told by the British ambassador to the Netherlands, that he was not welcome, reportedly because his visit would constitute a threat to the public order.

Mr Wilders responded to the decision in fighting mood, telling Dutch media that he still intended to travel to London:“I’ll see what happens at the border. Let them put me in handcuffs.”

This is an appalling decision I can only presume was approved at the highest levels of the British government.

Indeed, here is the letter given Mr. Wilders from the British embassy

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Secretary of State is of the view that your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society. The Secretary of State is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.

Melanie Philips tells it like it is

So let’s get this straight. The British government allows people to march through British streets screaming support for Hamas, it allows Hizb ut Tahrir to recruit on campus for the jihad against Britain and the west, it takes no action against a Muslim peer who threatens mass intimidation of Parliament, but it bans from the country a member of parliament of a European democracy who wishes to address the British Parliament on the threat to life and liberty in the west from religious fascism.

It is he, not them, who is considered a ‘serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society’. Why? Because the result of this stand for life and liberty against those who would destroy them might be an attack by violent thugs. The response is not to face down such a threat of violence but to capitulate to it instead.
--

Wilders is a controversial politician, to be sure. But this is another fateful and defining issue for Britain’s governing class as it continues to sleepwalk into cultural suicide.  If British MPs do not raise hell about this banning order, if they go along with this spinelessness, if they fail to stand up for the principle that the British Parliament of all places must be free to hear what a fellow democratically elected politician has to say about one of the most difficult and urgent issues of our time, if they fail to hold the line against the threat of violence but capitulate to it instead, they will be signalling that Britain is no longer the cradle of freedom and democracy but its graveyard.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 PM | Permalink

February 2, 2009

Broken Britain

The effects of the world wide financial crisis are revealing deep strains on peaceful civil society.    I am afraid this is just the beginning.

Muslim population 'rising 10 times faster than the rest of society'
The Muslim population in Britain has grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just four years, according to official research collated for The Times.

The population multiplied 10 times faster than the rest of society, the research by the Office for National Statistics reveals. In the same period the number of Christians in the country fell by more than 2 million.

David Coleman, Professor of Demography at Oxford University, said: “The implications are very substantial. Some of the Muslim population, by no means all of them, are the least socially and economically integrated of any in the United Kingdom ... and the one most associated with political dissatisfaction.

You can feel the testosterone and more in the air as Muslim youths, 'peace' protestors, shouting Allah Akbar  chase London policemen down the street.

Video at Harry's place.

It's hard to make any sense of this - Nurse suspended for offering to pray for patient's recovery.

At last week's hour-long meeting, Mrs Petrie says she was told the patient had said she was not offended by the prayer offer but the woman argued that someone else might have been.

In too many places, the right not to be offended has trumped both freedoms of religion and speech.  What results is 'thought police'.

Nat Hentoff points out what little notice was paid to the U.N. Resolution on December 18, 2008.

In an 83 to 53 vote, with 42 abstentions, the U.N. General Assembly urged nations to provide "adequate protections" in their laws or constitutions against "acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general."
--

Only Islam and Muslims are specifically named in this resolution against religious defamation, sponsored by Uganda on behalf of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, and cosponsored by Belarus and Venezuela. Opponents included the United States, a majority of European countries, Japan and India.
-
Floyd Abrams, the nation's leading protector of the First Amendment in the Supreme Court and in his writings. In his Dec. 9 lecture on global communications, issues at the United Nations itself in New York, he cited a recent study by the European Center for Law and Justice finding "that laws based on the concept of 'defamation of religion' actually help to create a climate of violence."

"Violators of these laws, as applied in most Muslim countries, are subject to the death penalty,

Last week we learned about the two grandparents who had cared for their 5-year-old grandson and 3-year-old granddaughter almost since birth because their mother was a drug addict were considered by social services 'too old' at 59 and 46 to care for them adequately.    The  children were removed and placed in foster care in preparation for adoption by a gay couple over the objections of their mother who wants their grandparents to raise them.

They were stripped of their carer's rights and informed they would be barred from seeing the children altogether unless they agreed to the same-sex adoption.

The distraught grandfather said: "It breaks my heart to think that our grandchildren are being forced to grow up in an environment without a mother-figure.


"We are not prejudiced, but I defy anyone to explain to us how this can be in their best interests. The ideal for any child is to have a loving father and a loving mother in their lives."

Peter Hitchens writes about how bad it is.
If I never again had to read or write a word about homosexuals, I would be very happy. I really don't want to know what other people do in their bedrooms. But these days they really, really want us all to know. And, more important, they insist that we approve. No longer are we allowed to keep our thoughts to ourselves, while being polite and kind.

We are forced to say that we think homosexuality is a good thing, that homosexual couples are equal in all ways to heterosexual married couples. Most emphatically, we are compelled to agree that homosexual couples are just as good at bringing up children as the children's own grandparents. Better, in fact.

Many people who believe nothing of the kind now know that their careers in politics, the media, the Armed Services, the police or schools will be ruined if they ever let their true opinions show. I am sure that many of them regularly lie about their views, to avoid such trouble.

We cringe to the new Thought Police, like the subjects of some insane, sex-obsessed Stalinist state, compelled to wave our little rainbow flags as the 'Gay Pride' parade passes by.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:27 PM | Permalink

America as the last man standng

A brave speech by a brave man.  Geert Wilders in New York last September on America as the last man standing

Wilders has been a member of the Dutch parliament since 1998.  Trained as a lawyer, his first film Fitna, only 16 minutes long, became the subject of world-wide controversy before it was even seen.

Robert Spencer,  director of Jihad Watch, described Fitna thus

The main part of it features a series of quotations from the Qur’an, followed by scenes of violent acts committed by Muslims.
--
The core objection to the film was that it linked Islam with violence.

And that points up the odd myopia of virtually all of the objections to Fitna. It was not Geert Wilders, but the many Muslims he shows in his film, who link Islam with violence. And that link has already been made innumerable times around the world — by Islamic jihad warriors, not by non-Muslim “Islamophobes.” Omar Bakri, once the leading jihadist in Britain but now in exile from the Sceptered Isle, even went so far as to say that with a few small edits, Fitna “could be a film by the Mujahideen.”

On January 21, 2009, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal ordered the criminal prosecution of Geert Wilders for insulting Islam.  Some say he went too far when he likened the Koran to Mein Kampf.    For Americans, who enjoy an almost absolute freedom under the First Amendment, it's  hard to conceive anyone being criminally charged for political speech, especially in a western democracy.

As someone remarked, Wilders is under 24 hour police protection because of threats on his life by violent Islamists, yet Wilders is criminally charged for expressing his opinion on violent Islam.

Bruce Bawer had this to say about the charge.

But Wilders—who for years now has lived under 24-hour armed guard—would not be gagged. Thus the disgraceful decision to put him on trial. In Dutch Muslim schools and mosques, incendiary rhetoric about the Netherlands, America, Jews, gays, democracy, and sexual equality is routine; a generation of Dutch Muslims are being brought up with toxic attitudes toward the society in which they live. And no one is ever prosecuted for any of this. Instead, a court in the Netherlands—a nation once famous for being an oasis of free speech—has now decided to prosecute a member of the national legislature for speaking his mind. By doing so, it proves exactly what Wilders has argued all along: that fear and “sensitivity” to a religion of submission are destroying Dutch freedom.

Here's what Geert Wilders said last September

I come to America with a mission. All is not well in the old world. There is a tremendous danger looming, and it is very difficult to be optimistic. We might be in the final stages of the Islamization of Europe. This not only is a clear and present danger to the future of Europe itself, it is a threat to America and the sheer survival of the West. The danger I see looming is the scenario of America as the last man standing. The United States as the last bastion of Western civilization, facing an Islamic Europe. In a generation or two, the US will ask itself: who lost Europe?
--
Many European cities are already one-quarter Muslim: just take Amsterdam, Marseille and Malmo in Sweden. In many cities the majority of the under-18 population is Muslim. Paris is now surrounded by a ring of Muslim neighbourhoods. Mohammed is the most popular name among boys in many cities. In some elementary schools in Amsterdam the farm can no longer be mentioned, because that would also mean mentioning the pig, and that would be an insult to Muslims.  In France school teachers are advised to avoid authors deemed offensive to Muslims, including Voltaire and Diderot; the same is increasingly true of Darwin. The history of the Holocaust can in many cases no longer be taught because of Muslim sensitivity. In England sharia courts are now officially part of the British legal system. Many neighbourhoods in France are no-go areas for women without head scarves.

 Geertwilders

Dear friends, liberty is the most precious of gifts. My generation never had to fight for this freedom, it was offered to us on a silver platter, by people who fought for it with their lives. All throughout Europe American cemeteries remind us of the young boys who never made it home, and whose memory we cherish. My generation does not own this freedom; we are merely its custodians. We can only hand over this hard won liberty to Europe’s children in the same state in which it was offered to us. We cannot strike a deal with mullahs and imams. Future generations would never forgive us. We cannot squander our liberties. We simply do not have the right to do so.

This is not the first time our civilization is under threat. We have seen dangers before. We have been betrayed by our elites before. They have sided with our enemies before. And yet, then, freedom prevailed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:31 AM | Permalink

January 12, 2009

The "Food Champions"

Richard Fernandez at The Belmont Club brings more news of the craziness that has infected the British government.

WRAP your head around this. The Telegraph reports that “food champions” will literally be coming to homes in Britain to make sure they don’t throw away leftovers, eat spoiled groceries and do not otherwise harm the planet.

Home cooks will also be told what size portions to prepare, taught to understand “best before” dates and urged to make more use of their freezers.

The door-to-door campaign, which starts tomorrow, will be funded by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a Government agency charged with reducing household waste.

The officials will be called “food champions”. However, they were dismissed last night as “food police” by critics who called the scheme an example of “excessive government nannying”.

But it's not just the government. 

some restaurants in Britain are using CCTV cameras to gather evidence against diners who complain about poor food and service in their establishments. One woman, sent a letter complaining of bad food, poor service and high prices said, “she was left astonished by the restaurant’s response. Simon Offen, the catering manager, emailed her to say he disputed her version of events after he had ‘watched and listened with interest to the video recording of her table’.” The British Hospitality Association believed the practice of recording the mastications of diners at their tables “odd”.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:10 AM | Permalink

January 6, 2009

The New Elizabethans

And now – metaphorically and literally – we may be losing it. Seen from the perspective of the non-westerner, this may be a good thing (though I doubt we are moving into a new era of opportunity for the wretched of the earth), but most of us will not like it. "Oh, lucky Granny and Grandpa!" our future grandchildren may say: "They were Elizabethans."

It was a golden Elizabethan Age - we won't see its like again

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:07 AM | Permalink

December 7, 2008

Pity the Poor Children

Another idiotic decision in England, this time by Oxford University Press.

Words associated with Christianity and British history taken out of children's dictionary.

Oxford University Press has removed words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch" from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity". Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.

The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.

But academics and head teachers said that the changes to the 10,000 word Junior Dictionary could mean that children lose touch with Britain's heritage.

"We have a certain Christian narrative which has given meaning to us over the last 2,000 years. To say it is all relative and replaceable is questionable," said Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment at Buckingham University. "The word selections are a very interesting reflection of the way childhood is going, moving away from our spiritual background and the natural world and towards the world that information technology creates for us."

Among the words taken out:

Carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe

Dwarf, elf, goblin

Abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar
Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade

adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.

Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow.

Words put in: 

Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export, chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue

Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep, citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate, EU, drought, brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping, committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable, emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro

Apparatus, food chain, incisor, square number, trapezium, alliteration, colloquial, idiom, curriculum, classify, chronological, block graph.

Hat tip: Tom Gross who calls it '"cultural suicide".

Pity the poor children deprived, even if curious, of learning about the British heritage.  If they read any book written before 1950, they won't have a clue as to what the words mean and no way of finding out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:00 PM | Permalink

November 29, 2008

"We've lost more than we'll ever know"

A remarkable essay by R.R. Reno, We Need Roots.

Life is better—richer, deeper, thicker—for our loyalties and loves.

I share this Chestertonian sensibility, which is why the new music from the English folk band, Show of Hands, gives me goose bumps.

  “Redbrick cottage where I was born / Is the empty shell of a holiday home. / Most of year there’s no one there. / The village is dead and they don’t care.”
_
“Country Life” is not a polemic against free markets or Thatcherism. It thrusts against the left as well. “No one marched to subsidize and save the country way of life,” they sing. We are reminded that so-called progressive politics long ago shifted its focus toward securing lifestyle freedoms for the new-economy winners (gay-pride marches, women’s rights marches), as well as toward movements to satisfy the refined moral palates of the educated elites (animal rights, nuclear disarmament, global warming). The local guy with a high-school education and ordinary expectations from life gets pushed to the side.
--
The major premise of “Roots” is simple: “Without our stories or our songs / How will we know where we come from?” The minor premise is implied: England now encourages cultural forgetfulness rather than memory. The conclusion: an urgent imperative of cultural renewal that gives this song extraordinary emotional power.
--
Social capital is not a fixed asset. It requires regular reinvestment, which we do by committing resources of memory, love, and loyalty. One of the signal features of our age is the belief that we can have everything for nothing. Our multicultural therapists imagine that we can discharge the batteries of national identity, reap gains in tolerance, and pay no costs. But there are costs. As the Show of Hands sings, “We’ve lost more than we’ll ever know.” We can’t stand forever at a distance with our critical doubts and moral reservations. Love rewards only those who venture her commitments.

This loss of "more than we'll ever know" echoes in Degeneration, the number one song in Quebec for by the band called Mes Aieux (My Ancestors)

HT Ron Dreher

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:15 PM | Permalink

Our wart-based education

Mark Steyn hits it out of the park again in this Thanksgiving note, Which history?

We've taken Cromwell's advice to his portraitist to paint him "warts and all", and show our kids all but solely the warts — spreading disease to Native Americans, enslaving blacks, interning the Japanese. Any non-wart stuff is mostly invented out of whole cloth: the US Constitution has its good points but they all come from the Iroquois, and the first Thanksgiving is some kind of proto-Communist celebration of collective farming.

A few months back, my little boy came home from Second Grade and said to me, "Guess what we learned today?" I said: "Rosa Parks." He said: "How did you know that?" I said: "Because it's always Rosa Parks." And, if you don't learn it in the context of any broader historical narrative, it's just a story about municipal transit seating arrangements.

Teaching only the warts is a terrible thing to do to young children. At its extreme it leads to those British Taliban captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan: Subjects of the Crown who'd been raised in English schools and taught only that the country to which they owed their nominal allegiance was the source of all the racism, oppression, colonialism, and imperialism in the world. Why be surprised that a proportion of the alumni of such a system would look elsewhere for their sense of identity?

But, even in its more benign form, warts-only education leaves a big hole where one's cultural inheritance should be.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:40 PM | Permalink

November 14, 2008

Our 'shared spiritual alphabet'

Separating Christianity from Europe's public life leads 'down a blind alley' Pope cautions.

Though our world and environment continue to change, Pope Benedict continued, “the final aim of all our daily efforts, both as individuals and as a community, remains unaltered: the search for the true well-being of the person and the creation of an open and welcoming society attentive to the real needs of everyone.”

"The values and laws, the shared spiritual 'alphabet,' that has made it possible for our peoples to write noble chapters of civil and religious history over the centuries, is a precious heritage that must not be squandered," the Pope added, but rather “augmented with the contribution of modern discoveries in the fields of science technology and communication, which must be placed at the service of the real good of mankind."

The Pontiff continued by emphasizing that if this rich heritage is separated from the public life, it would “mean starting down a blind alley.”  He also stressed that “this is why it is necessary to redefine the meaning of secularism, a secularism that highlights the real difference and autonomy between the various elements of society but that also protects their specific competencies, in a context of shared responsibility.”

The phrase our 'shared spiritual alphabet' is especially apt since so many have become illiterate and ignorant of the roots of the civilization that has cradled them. 

Take Oxford for example.  No more Christmas lights for them.  No indeed.  Christmas is now banned in Oxford in favor of a 'Winter Light Festival'.    Instead of the traditional Christmas lights, there will be a 25 meter high mobile in shape of the solar system.

 Christmas Lights Oxford

Muslims and Jews want Christmas back.

Sabir Hussain Mirza, chairman of the Muslim Council of Oxford, said: 'I'm really upset. Christians, Muslims and other religions all look forward to Christmas.'

Rabbi Eli Bracknell of the Jewish Educational Centre said: ' Anything that waters down traditional culture and Christianity is not positive for the British identity. WinterLight includes all festivals but it also conceals them.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

November 11, 2008

The Sad Story of a Dying Country

Behind the Bluster, Russia is Collapsing

Putin's military is still in tatters, armed with rusting weaponry and staffed with indifferent recruits. Meanwhile, a declining population is robbing the military of a new generation of soldiers. Russia's economy is almost totally dependent on the price of oil. And, worst of all, it's facing a public health crisis that verges on the catastrophic.
--
Something even larger is blocking Russia's march. Recent decades, most notably since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, have seen an appalling deterioration in the health of the Russian population, anchoring Russia not in the forefront of developed countries but among the most backward of nations.

This is a tragedy of huge proportions -- but not a particularly surprising one, at least to me. I followed population, health and environmental issues in the Soviet Union for decades, and more recently, I have reported on diseases such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic ravaging the Russian population. I've visited Russia more than 50 times over the years, so I can say from firsthand experience that this national calamity isn't happening suddenly. It's happening inexorably.
--
...remember tuberculosis? In the United States, with a population of 303 million, 650 people died of the disease in 2007. In Russia, which has a total of 142 million people, an astonishing 24,000 of them died of tuberculosis in 2007. Can it possibly be coincidental that, according to Gennady Onishchenko, the country's chief public health physician,
only 9 percent of Russian TB hospitals meet current hygienic standards, 21 percent lack either hot or cold running water, 11 percent lack a sewer system, and 20 percent have a shortage of TB drugs?

Can you imagine a hospital lacking running water or sewerage?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:04 PM | Permalink

Civitas, Pietas and the American Covenant

After the election where I was moved as always by the peaceful transition of power as well as by the notable achievement of Barack Obama, the new president-elect,  I turned to more pressing personal matters which partially explains the lack of blogging.

I do want to point to this Time review Search for Civitas about a book written by Daniel Bell almost thirty years ago

"The Cultural Contradictions Of Capitalism: 20th Anniversary Edition" (Daniel Bell)


The more that Sociologist Daniel Bell peers into the future, the more he seems to respect the past. It would be hard to find anyone more at home in such a variety of contemporary disciplines—economics, politics, the arts, popular culture. Yet Bell is not happy with the trends in any of them. Something precious has gone out of life, he feels. The deficiency makes people harsher, more inward, more aggrandizing.
Bell yearns for a restoration of civitas: "The spontaneous willingness to obey the law, to respect the rights of others, to forgo the temptations of private enrichment at the expense of the public weal—in short, to honor the 'city' of which one is a member."

Bell is no mere nostalgia peddler sighing for antique worlds. With acerbic but civil scholarship, he blames today's honorless condition on what he calls "modernism": the cultural movement that started in the latter half of the 19th century and has gathered momentum ever since. Modernism rejects the old, the traditional, the bourgeois in favor of the new, the sensational, the revolutionary. As such, it has dissolved many conventions, and discredited most institutions and values. Today, says Bell, its victory is complete.
There is a perpetual, unwholesome rage for the new. Instead of affirming a "moral-philosophical tradition against which the new could be measured," contemporary culture has an "unprecedented mission: an official, ceaseless search for a new sensibility."

Under these conditions, an avant-garde can hardly be said to exist. The most outrageous or destructive idea or art form becomes accepted overnight. "In fact," writes Bell, the chief characteristic of the Establishment "is its eagerness to repudiate its own existence." The condition of art is echoed in politics and the economy. Capitalists have lost faith in their enterprise and are listless about defending it. Capitalism's very success has created a paradox: hard work, discipline and organization make capitalism successful. But the goods it abundantly produces encourage a mindless pursuit of hedonism. Capitalism is thus deprived of any "moral or transcendent ethic." There is a further paradox. The greater the economic growth under capitalism, the higher the expectations. People demand more government services and more protection against adversity. Inflation results, savings diminish, and capitalism is undermined.
The only solution is a restraint on private appetite and a return to a public philosophy—a tall order, as Bell acknowledges, in these roiled times.

Usually we think of history as the product of either politics (the struggle for power) or economics (the production of wealth) George Weigel writes but history is better seen through culture in Is Europe Dying?

Europe began  the twentieth century with bright expectations of new and unprecedented scientific, cultural, and political achievements. Yet within fifty years, Europe, the undisputed center of  world civilization  in 1900,  produced two  world wars, three totalitarian systems, a Cold War that threatened global holocaust, oceans of blood, mountains of corpses, the Gulag, and  Auschwitz. What  happened? And,  perhaps more to the point,  why had  what happened  happened? Political  and economic analyses do not offer satisfactory answers to those urgent questions.  Cultural-which is  to say spiritual, even theological-answers might help.

Weigel calls for a return to pietas, an ancient Roman virtue that teaches us reverence and gratitude for those on whose shoulders we stand, a fitting subject for this Veteran's Day.

Vetsday08-Lo

To be patriotic is to acknowledge the patrimony, the legacy, we have been given and which we are duty bound to pass on to future generations.    In America, it is not so much the land as the ideas of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'.  John Schaar explores The Case for Patriotism.

Abraham Lincoln, the supreme authority on this subject, thought there was a patriotism unique to America. Americans, a motley gathering of various races and cultures, were bonded together not by blood or religion, not by tradition or territory, not by the calls and traditions of a city, but by a political idea. We are a nation formed by a covenant, by dedication to a set of principles, and by an exchange of promises to uphold and advance certain commitments among ourselves and throughout the world. Those principles and commitments are the core of American identity, the soul of the body politic. They make the American nation unique, and niquely valuable among and to the other nations. But the other side of this conception contains a warning very like the warnings spoken by the prophets to Israel: if we fail in our promises to each other, and lose the principles of the covenant, then we lose everything, for they are we.   

He quotes Abraham Lincoln in Philadelphia on the way to Washington for his first inauguration.

I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here in the place where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live... I have never had a feeling  politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied  in the Declaration of Independence...I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this confederacy so long together. I
t was.something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time.
--

Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in    the world if I can help to save it. If it can't be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this  country cannot be saved without giving up that principle--I  was about to I say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 AM | Permalink

October 10, 2008

Making it easy for thieves

They are losing their minds in Britain.

No barbed wire...it might hurt the thieves, allotment holders told
So you can't protect the food you've grown or the tools you use.

In fact, Council advises homeowners to leave sheds open for thieves!
Tenants have been warned that padlocks can lead to thieves forcing their way through doors and windows of the council-owned sheds to steal garden equipment.

Bristol City Council claims its 'Don't Use a Padlock' initiative will save taxpayers' money because fewer sheds will have to be repaired or replaced.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

October 6, 2008

"Who Lost Europe?"

From the Dutch politician Geert Wilders who producted the film Fitna on Wisdom and Courage

I come to America with a mission. All is not well in the old world. There is a tremendous danger looming, and it is very difficult to be optimistic. We might be in the final stages of the Islamization of Europe. This not only is a clear and present danger to the future of Europe itself, it is a threat to America and the sheer survival of the West. The danger I see looming is the scenario of America as the last man standing. The United States as the last bastion of Western civilization, facing an Islamic Europe. In a generation or two, the US will ask itself: who lost Europe? Patriots from around Europe risk their lives every day to prevent precisely this scenario form becoming a reality.
--
Dear friends, liberty is the most precious of gifts. My generation never had to fight for this freedom, it was offered to us on a silver platter, by people who fought for it with their lives. All throughout Europe American cemeteries remind us of the young boys who never made it home, and whose memory we cherish. My generation does not own this freedom; we are merely its custodians. We can only hand over this hard won liberty to Europe’s children in the same state in which it was offered to us. We cannot strike a deal with mullahs and imams. Future generations would never forgive us. We cannot squander our liberties. We simply do not have the right to do so.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:54 AM | Permalink

September 18, 2008

Free train travel for all

In Holland a new political party called the Charity, Freedom and Diversity party or NVD has been registered in advance of elections next May.

It's platform?

• legalize child pornography
• legalize sex with animals
• reduce the age of consent to 12 from 16
• legalize hard and soft drugs
• free train travel for all

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink

September 16, 2008

Monasteries, the root of European culture

When the news is just too much, I can trust that Pope Benedict will inspire me.  When I  immerse myself in his words, I am curiously refreshed.  I must have been a monk in another life.

A few days ago Pope Benedict was in Paris at the recently restored 13th century College des Bernardins, on the origins of western theology and roots of European culture.  The college had been a residence of young monks until the French revolution.  The Pope's visit was the official inauguration of what is now a meeting place for the dialogue between faith and culture.

 College Des Bernadins

The Vatican publishes the text.

The monasteries were the places where the treasures of ancient culture survived, and where at the same time a new culture slowly took shape out of the old"

That was not their intent.  The monks sought the truth. They wanted to find God.

First and foremost, it must be frankly admitted straight away that it was not their intention to create a culture nor even to preserve a culture from the past.  Their motivation was much more basic.  Their goal was: quaerere Deum.  Amid the confusion of the times, in which nothing seemed permanent, they wanted to do the essential – to make an effort to find what was perennially valid and lasting, life itself.  They were searching for God.  They wanted to go from the inessential to the essential, to the only truly important and reliable thing there is.
--
it is through the search for God that the secular sciences take on their importance, sciences which show us the path toward language. Because the search for God required the culture of the word, it was appropriate that the monastery should have a library, pointing out pathways to the word. It was also appropriate to have a school, in which these pathways could be opened up

--
Quaerere Deum – to seek God and to let oneself be found by him, that is today no less necessary than in former times.  A purely positivistic culture which tried to drive the question concerning God into the subjective realm, as being unscientific, would be the capitulation of reason, the renunciation of its highest possibilities, and hence a disaster for humanity, with very grave consequences.  What gave Europe’s culture its foundation – the search for God and the readiness to listen to him – remains today the basis of any genuine culture.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:33 PM | Permalink

September 10, 2008

He wrote the book on community organizing

Melanie Phillips in a Revolution You Can Believe In

The seditious role of the community organiser was developed by an extreme left intellectual called Saul Alinsky. He was a radical Chicago activist who, by the time he died in 1972, had had a profound influence on the highest levels of the Democratic party. Alinsky was a ‘transformational Marxist’ in the mould of Antonio Gramsci, who promoted the strategy of a ‘long march through the institutions’ by capturing the culture and turning it inside out as the most effective means of overturning western society. In similar vein, Alinsky condemned the New Left for alienating the general public by its demonstrations and outlandish appearance. The revolution had to be carried out through stealth and deception. Its proponents had to cultivate an image of centrism and pragmatism. A master of infiltration, Alinsky wooed Chicago mobsters and Wall Street financiers alike. And successive Democratic politicians fell under his spell.

His creed was set out in his book ‘Rules for Radicals’ – a book he dedicated to Lucifer, whom he called the ‘first radical’. It was Alinsky for whom ‘change’ was his mantra. And by ‘change’, he meant a Marxist revolution achieved by slow, incremental, Machiavellian means which turned society inside out. This had to be done through systematic deception, winning the trust of the naively idealistic middle class by using the language of morality to conceal an agenda designed to destroy it. And the way to do this, he said, was through ‘people’s organisations’.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:40 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2008

"Rendered powerless by sheer inattention"

Orson Scott Card is The Ornery American and writing about Alexander Solzhenitsyn  in  Nobody Was Listening.

Let me quote just one passage from Solzhenitsyn's speech: "A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations.

"Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life."

--
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn died last week. For the last thirty years of his life he was almost unheard-of. He was dismissed by our media elite as a has-been, a grumpy old man who dared to criticize them as scathingly as he criticized the Communists. They declared him No Longer Interesting.

But he is as important as he ever was. He was mostly right about the Soviet Union; he was mostly right about us.

In the Soviet Union, he was seen as dangerous.

In America, he was rendered powerless by sheer inattention.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:16 PM | Permalink

August 21, 2008

Friends across the pond

Battling the growing phenomenon of  anti-Americanism, a British group has organized a website called America in the World.    Good for them.

AmericaInTheWorld is a London-based international alliance opposed to anti-Americanism as well as American isolationism. Via our briefings, we aim to provide the number one factual resource for those who wish to hear the case against anti-Americanism. Our goal is to increase understanding of America, to debunk some of the leading myths about the United States, and to make a positive case for a continuing leading role for America in the world.

AmericaInTheWorld is launched and funded by supporters of America in London and around the world. AmericaInTheWorld receives no American government or corporate funding.

Here's a video A World Without The American Soldier

 

For their launch, they commissioned a poll of 2000 U.K. citizens to find that Large numbers of British citizens consistently and inaccurately think the worst of America.

The first part of our survey would suggest that large numbers of Britons think America is a land where polygamy is legal, where you don't get emergency medical care if you are poor and where there is more racism than in Europe. Britons also think that America provided Saddam Hussein with a large share of his weapons when, in reality, Russia, China and France were responsible for most of the arms exports to his Iraq.  On all of these questions Britons are wrong.

Best of all, they are associated with no party and offer fact-filled briefings that can settle many arguments.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:53 PM | Permalink

August 18, 2008

Where Not to be a Child

The worst place in the Western world to be a child is Britain reports UNICEF; Theodore Dalrymple calls it Childhood's End.

The British, never fond of children, have lost all knowledge or intuition about how to raise them; as a consequence, they now fear them, perhaps the most terrible augury possible for a society.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:07 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2008

More Craziness from England

Dogs must wear booties.

The London Times
Police sniffer dogs will have to wear bootees when searching the homes of Muslims so as not to cause offence.

Toddlers who say 'Yuk" will be reported to local council for racism
London Times

Toddlers who say yuk to unfamiliar foods could be branded racist by government sponsored agency.    The National Children's Bureau lists other types of toddler racism -name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships.

Such incidents should be reported to local council.

Plans to clear undergrowth from a notorious gay cruising spot branded discriminatory.
Telegraph
Bristol City Council wants to prune bushes and remove cover from an area known as the Downs to improve the landscape and encourage rare wildlife. 

Work on the beauty spot has been temporarily delayed while talks with gay rights groups take place to try and break the deadlock.

English, non-Muslim schoolboys punished for refusing to kneel down and pray to Allah.
Daily Mail

Then two boys got detention and all the other children missed their refreshment break because of the teacher.

"Not only was it forced upon them, my daughter was told off for not doing it right.

"They'd never done it before and they were supposed to do it in another language

Why is this man so happy?

 Al Qaeda Ambassador Europe

Al Qaeda's "ambassador to Europe', one of the world's most dangerous terrorists was released on bail from a high security prison because he could not be sent home to Jordan lest his human rights be breached.  He was released on bail and  returned to his £ 800,000 home where he and his family receive an estimated £50,000 a year in benefits

Betrayal of the Ghurkas
For 200 years Nepalese Ghurkas have fought in the British Army in both world wars, the Falklands, Afghanistan and Iraq.  About 200,000 have fought and some 43,000 were killed or wounded.  Yet, those who want to emigrate to Britain were denied visas on the ground that their ties to Britain were "insufficiently strong."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink

July 10, 2008

No Beer, No Civilization

George Will on the Survival of the Sudsiest

"The search for unpolluted drinking water is as old as civilization itself. As soon as there were mass human settlements, waterborne diseases like dysentery became a crucial population bottleneck. For much of human history, the solution to this chronic public-health issue was not purifying the water supply. The solution was to drink alcohol."

Often the most pure fluid available was alcohol -- in beer and, later, wine -- which has antibacterial properties. Sure, alcohol has its hazards, but as Johnson breezily observes, "Dying of cirrhosis of the liver in your forties was better than dying of dysentery in your twenties." Besides, alcohol, although it is a poison, and an addictive one, became, especially in beer, a driver of a species-strengthening selection process.
--
The gene pools of human settlements became progressively dominated by the survivors -- by those genetically disposed to, well, drink beer.
--

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Benjamin Franklin

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2008

Other great news from the weekend of the 4th

Some would consider that news that contrary to what we were all brought up to believe  mayonnaise protects against food spoilage the best of the weekend.

But there was other fantastic news.

From Iran
Ahmed Batebi, a leader of the Iranian student movement  escaped from an Iranian jail after being imprisoned and tortured for nine years  and made his way to the U.S.  He was interviewed on the Voice of America.

 Ahmed  Batebi -Flees To Usa

I wish each and every Iranian could travel abroad, come to the U.S. or go to Europe, for just one week, and feel, smell, and breathe freedom, human dignity, and realize the value of their lives.

Gateway Pundit has lots more on Batebi, Iran's most famous dissident.

From Iraq
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki announced on Saturday, "We have defeated terrorism". Gateway Pundit again with lots more.

550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium were transported in 37 military flights from Iraq to Canada.

From Colombia
The joyful news that Ingrid Betancourt and three American hostages were released from a jungle prison where they were held by the revolutionary terrorist group called FARC in a spectacular, impeccable operation by the Colombian armed forces with advice, support and training from the Americans and the Israelis.

 Ingrid Release

"I was in chains all the time, 24 hours a day, for three years," she told Europe 1 radio. "I tried to wear those chains with dignity, even if I felt that it was unbearable."

Asked whether she had been tortured, she said, "Yes, yes," and said her captors had fallen into "diabolical behavior," adding: "It was so monstrous, I think they themselves were disgusted."

She called her rescue "a miracle of the Virgin Mary" and said: "You need tremendous spirituality to stop yourself falling into the abyss." She had made herself a wooden rosary in the jungle, she said.

 Ingrid Tarmac Thanks

Thanking God on the tarmac.  When was the last time you saw something like this?

"God, this is a miracle," Betancourt said. "Such a perfect operation is unprecedented."

Just how were the rebels fooled?  Mary Anastasia O'Grady reports in the WSJ on FARC's 'Human Rights" Friends.

It may have taken years for army intelligence to infiltrate the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and it may have been tough to convincingly impersonate rebels. But what seems to have been a walk in the park was getting the FARC to believe that an NGO was providing resources to help it in the dirty work of ferrying captives to a new location.

Many of the NGOs in Colombia are nothing but fronts for terrorists.
Left-wing NGOs have made undermining the Colombian government's credibility a priority for many years.....
--
Since the late 1990s, the NGO practice of dragging the military into court on allegations of human rights violations has destroyed the careers of some of the country's finest officers, even though most of these men were found innocent after years of proceedings. "Judicial warfare" turned out to be especially effective because under legislation pushed by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, "credible" charges against officers put at risk U.S. military aid unless the accused was removed. The NGOs knew that they only had to point fingers to get rid of an effective leader and demoralize the ranks. Given this history, it's not surprising that the FARC thought a helicopter from an NGO was perfectly natural.

What's particularly disturbing is what appears in notes captured from FARC
Piedad says that Chávez has Uribe going crazy. He doesn't know what to do. That Nancy Pelosi helps and is ready to help in the swap [hostages in exchange for captured guerrillas]. That she has designated [U.S. Congressman Jim] McGovern for this.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:25 PM | Permalink

One brave Canadian on Canada's human rights commissions.

David Warren reports

We have seen lately what happens when “human rights” commissions turn themselves loose on rightwing journalists and the periodicals that publish them, from Maclean’s magazine, down. We seldom see reported the myriad small decisions, in which defenceless little people are hauled before the tribunals, stripped of all due process, ground down and destroyed both financially and spiritually.

In the course of this last grim week, the O
ntario government of Dalton McGuinty quietly announced a huge expansion of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, giving its apparatchiks enhanced powers of intrusion, removing the cap on fines, providing a new class of lawyers to assist in prosecutions, and opening 22 new “hearing and mediation rooms” around the province where these star chambers will conduct their quasi-legal proceedings.

As a writer who does not subscribe to the “politically correct” ideology, it is reasonable to expect that, sooner or later, they will come for me....

I was born a free citizen of the Old Canada, and
before her God I declare, that I will go to jail rather than acknowledge the legitimacy of any “human rights” commission. I invite other journalists and indeed, every other Canadian, to declare likewise.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

July 6, 2008

Report on the 4th

The 4th of July was splendid especially since I had the privilege to see the celebration of America's birthday  through a foreigner's eye.  When a new friend, a visiting scholar at Harvard said she had no plans for the 4th of July, I invited her to spend it with me and another friend.

After a lunch of hotdogs, beans, chips and beer, we visited Lexington Common and the Minuteman National Park .  My foreign friend was much impressed with the natural beauty, the modesty of the monuments and the innocence in the best sense of word of the national park rangers who told the thrilling story of the first battle of the revolutionary war.  This could never happen in Europe she said. The closest a European could come to the evident feeling of national pride she saw all around was winning a soccer match.  Later at the Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade and the fabulous fireworks, she was amazed at the tenor of the crowd, some 500,000 strong, particularly its civility and self discipline.  Living very near a soccer stadium in Europe, she's used to drunken louts who crash bottles on the streets, get into fights and vomit in the nearest space available.  Of the crowd in Boston she said "This is so civilized."

 Boston 4Thjuly Fireworks

Catching up on all the coverage of the 4th, the following caught my attention.

Thomas Sowell on Does Patriotism Matter?

When the intelligentsia in France launched a systematic purge of textbooks after the First World War in order to promote internationalism and pacifism, the epic defense of France seen during the First World War evolved into a "sudden and humiliating collapse" in six weeks to the Nazis despite superior French tanks and planes.

Roger Kimball's thoughtful essay on July 4, America and multiculturalism
I  fear that for every schoolchild standing at attention for the National Anthem, there is a teacher or lawyer or judge or politician or ACLU employee militating against the hegemony of the dominant culture, the insupportable intrusion of white, Christian, “Eurocentric” values into the curriculum, the school pageant, the town green, etc., etc.
--
Those forces are not isolated phenomena; they are not even confined to America. They are part of a global crisis in national identity, coefficients of the sudden collapse of self-confidence in the West–a collapse that shows itself in everything from swiftly falling birthrates in “old Europe” to the attack on the whole idea of the sovereign nation state. It is hard to avoid thinking that a people that has lost the will to reproduce or govern itself is a people on the road to destruction.
--
The threat shows itself in many ways, from culpable complacency to the corrosive imperatives of “multiculturalism” and political correctness. ... In essence, as Huntington notes, multiculturalism is “anti-European civilization. . . . It is basically an anti-Western ideology.”

The multiculturalists claim to be fostering a progressive cultural cosmopolitanism distinguished by superior sensitivity to the downtrodden and dispossessed. In fact, they encourage an orgy of self-flagellating liberal guilt as impotent as it is insatiable. The “sensitivity” of the multiculturalist is an index not of moral refinement but of moral vacuousness.
--
For what we have witnessed with the triumph of multiculturalism is a kind of hypertrophy or perversion of liberalism, as its core doctrines are pursued to the point of caricature.

While in Bagdad, the wonderful sight of 1200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in the largest re-enlistment in history, in Saddham's old palace.

The Mudville Gazette reports one command sergeant said
I'll always remember the message you've sent to the adversary: the same guys and girls who've been kicking your butt for the past five years signed up for some more.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:34 PM | Permalink

June 27, 2008

A Small but Satisfying Victory

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech are the primary jewels we have been given as Americans, part of our common patrimony.  To see them under threat and being attacked in Canada was alarming, a little too close to home.  Like acid rain and pollution which know no boundaries, such threats should be stopped at the source.  And so I have written ...

      Whither Canada?
      The Chilling Effect of Richard Warman
      "Freedom of Speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value"

The good news is that many others are concerned and most of them are playing a much larger part than I.    The other good news ...

On Thursday, the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission dismissed the complaint of the Canadian Islamic Congress against Maclean's magazine for printing an excerpt of Mark Steyn's America Alone.

Counsel to the Islamic Congress, Faisal Joseph expressed his disappointment and claimed "inappropriate political pressure."

Steyn was sited at the Prime Minister's Garden and when told of the decision joked maybe he should appeal.

 Mark Steyn After Dismissal

Macleans responded
Though gratified by the decision, Maclean's continues to assert that no human rights commission, whether at the federal or provincial level, has the mandate or the expertise to monitor, inquire into, or assess the editorial decisions of the nation's media. ...We enthusiastically support those
parliamentarians who are calling for legislative review of the commissions with regard to speech issues.

Still to watch is the decision from the HRC of British Columbia and the many cases filed against Christians and others like the comedian recently charged for his offensive comments against a pair of hecklers.

The best solution is to get rid of all the silly pseudo-judicial commissions and revert to the common law which has done quite well over the past 800 years in taking care of the true free speech abuses -  fraud, defamation and libel.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink

June 26, 2008

The Spirit of Appeasement

An Anatomy of Surrender   Bruce Bawer argues, quite convincingly, that too many Westerners, motivated by fear and multiculturalism, are acquiescing to creeping sharia.

These Westerners have begun, in other words, to internalize the strictures of sharia, and thus implicitly to accept the deferential status of dhimmis—infidels living in Muslim societies.

Call it a cultural surrender. The House of War is slowly—or not so slowly, in Europe’s case—being absorbed into the House of Submission.
--
The driving force on the road to sharia is the media who have caught the spirit of the age which is nothing other than the spirit of appeasement.

Bawer expands on the role the New York Times plays  in The Times, It Ain't a-Changin

Let’s examine some highlights from the history of the Times — not only America’s most famous newspaper, but the one from which the nation’s media have, to an extraordinary extent, taken their lead for generations. These highlights do not even begin to tell the whole story of the Times’s treatment of totalitarianism over the decades, of course, but they point to something chronic, unhealthy, and dishonest at the heart of the Gray Lady’s editorial sensibility that has yet to be effectively addressed - and that has its counterparts in countless less prominent media on which the Times has long exerted a major influence.

There follows a sad litany of the NYT's denial of the famine under Stalin, its failure to report on the vicious  anti-semitism of the Nazi regime, its far too long  denial of genocide against the Jews in Germany and its portrayal of Fidel Castro as a romantic, guerilla hero.


In this sense, the Times is not a liberal newspaper at all, but deeply conservative, determined above all to provide its largely comfortable and affluent readers with a consistent, predictable picture of the world that doesn’t challenge their own worldview in any significant way or make them feel obliged to deal with things they’d prefer not to deal with. Certainly a loyalty to “established patterns” is a factor in the refusal by the Times and other media today to report honestly on the dramatic changes in European society wrought by the continent’s ongoing Islamization.
--
The Times should have learned a valuable lesson or two from its past. But it’s making exactly the same mistakes today with Islam in the West that it did with Stalinism and Hitlerism, ignoring and discrediting the testimony of honest observers while giving legitimacy to tyranny’s sympathizers and apologists. The Times’s power is such that it might play an immensely positive role in educating its readers about the situation before them and helping them to recognize where their own responsibilities lie. Instead it’s pursuing an editorial policy that bids fair to be every bit as disastrous as was its approach to Stalin, the Holocaust, and Castro. And a large segment of the mainstream Western media is following its example.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:31 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2008

Hurrah for the Irish Vote

They voted NO to the Lisbon Treaty.  They were the only citizens allowed to vote on the proposed treaty in the only referendum allowed, 3 million voting for the 490 million who were not allowed.

David Pryce Jones explains

The Lisbon Treaty was supposed to mark the moment when the United States of Europe irrevocably became a political and juridical entity, with the character of an empire. In earlier stages of the empire-building process, the French and the Dutch voted NO in referendums, but the European Union and national governments chose to ignore those votes, pressing ahead as though public opinion did not exist. The 27 heads of states in Europe all signed up to the treaty in draft, and all are in the process of ratifying it, simply bulldozing it through by means of presidential decree or parliamentary measures without consulting their populations. The absence of democratic consent would have been delightfully familiar to Stalin.

All except the Irish, that is. Their constitution alone specified a referendum. As usual, the elite, big business, the media, favoured a YES vote, and took it for granted. But the Irish people did not want to lose their constitution or their sovereignty. If other countries in the EU were allowed a similar vote, they too would reject the Lisbon Treaty. In a very real sense, the Irish have spoken for the majority of Europeans.

The E.U. will find someway some way to ignore this resounding NO just as they did two years ago when the French and the Dutch voted NO on the proposed E. U. Constitution which was then repackaged as the Lisbon Treaty.

Richard North has a round-ip at Pajamas Media, the Irish Voters Dump Latest EU Treaty and sent it packing. 

Such an idea is akin to the voters of Colorado deciding on the president of the United States of America, the others leaving it for their state legislatures to decide.

I loved the comment by Letalis Maximus.

First Guinness, now this. The Irish; is there nothing they can’t do?

Bravo, I say. Bravo.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:17 PM | Permalink

June 10, 2008

The British Government has no convincing moral direction says the Church of England

A surprising document from the Church of England,  what Ruth Gledhill in the London Times calls the Church's strongest attack on the Government in decades.   

The policies of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have helped to generate a spiritual, civic and economic crisis in Britain, according to an important Church of England report.

Labour is failing society and lacks the vision to restore a sense of British identity, the report says.... It accuses the Government of “deep religious illiteracy” and of having “no convincing moral direction”.

The report, commissioned for the Church of England and to be published on Monday, accuses the Government of discriminating against the Christian Churches in favour of other faiths, including Islam.
--

The authors find evidence of deep-seated hostility to the Church in particular, excluding it from important areas of policy and research – despite Mr Blair being one of the most devout prime ministers of the past century. They portray a Government committed to research into Muslim communities but barely interested in Christian involvement in Britain’s civic and charitable life.

This is in spite of what the authors describe as centuries of pioneering work by the Church in areas of welfare and social provision. “We encountered on the part of the Government a significant lack of understanding or interest in the Church of England’s current or potential contribution in the public sphere,” the report says.

They are right. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink

June 9, 2008

Will the Irish Save Civilization a Second Time?

No other European nation is giving its citizens the right to vote on whether to accept or reject the Lisbon Treaty which would result in a massive transfer of sovereignty from the nation states to the European Union.

The Irish Post editorializes

First, on Thursday, four million Irish citizens resident in the Irish Republic will be asked to ratify a new democratic structure for the European Union and its 500 million citizens. Despite the fact that this proposed structure will radically alter the relationship between all the member states and the union, and between all the citizens and the union, it apparently does not require the votes of the other 496 million or so citizens. Such is European democracy.
--
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a European superstate run by Eurocrats who are unsackable, founded on a treaty that is unintelligible and watching the democratic linkage between citizen and state disappear under oceans of verbiage. I don’t believe the architects of this treaty, people like Valery Giscard D’Estaing or Guiliano Amato. I think they are practised political truth-massagers, - and tax-free ones to boot. As Amato himself said at the LSE last February: ‘‘The good thing about not calling it a constitution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it.”

Brits at their Best calls it Funeral rites for Britain

In the same week that Magna Carta will be 793 years old, the funeral rites for Britain have begun with scarcely a mention in Britain's mainstream press, or in America's.

Transnational elites have stealthily seized control of European nations and Britain, and though there are three last opportunities to escape the EU this week, it is doubtful that a Britain that has been hollowed out from inside can take advantage of them. If Britain does not, she will be finished as a nation according to the stated intentions of the EU.
--

Unless the British people rise up and rebel, they will have lost their country and their freedoms - achieved with so much sacrifice - 'not with a bang but with a whimper'.

And so the silence - as if we could pretend that nothing is happening as long as we don't make a sound.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 PM | Permalink

June 6, 2008

Robert Kennedy's Reports from Palestine

Forty years ago, I stayed up late to watch the television reports of the Democrat primary in California and watched in disbelief as the tragic scene unfolded on the tiny screen in real time.

On the 40th anniversary of his assassination, four dispatches written by Robert Kennedy for the Boston Post have been found.

Robert Kennedy's 1948 Reports from Palestine

 Robert Kennedy Palestine

Via The Belmont Club where Richard Fernandez writes

Maybe, having been disillusioned by the hatred and duplicity all around him, RFK was struck by a strange mood of wistfulness. He inserts this strange monologue into his narrative seemingly out of the blue.

Having been out of the United States for more than two months at this time of writing, I notice myself more and more conscious of the great heritage and birthright to which we as United States citizens are heirs and which we have the duty to preserve. A force motivating my writing this paper is that I believe we have failed in this duty or are in great jeopardy of doing so. The failure is due chiefly to our inability to get the true facts of the policy in which we are partners in Palestine.

It was a time before the incessant din of propaganda has since convinced Americans that evil was exclusively Made in the USA. History that is ostensibly written to enlighten is often in practice written to deceive. The most common use of history is to make us misremember the past. What we believe happened, as well as what we believed about RFK may have nothing to do with how things were. Reading his contemporaneous reports is like visiting a country we never knew existed and meeting a man who died twice; once at the hands of Sirhan Sirhan and again by the knife of popular culture. Twenty years after Kennedy left Palestine, Palestine came to him in a Los Angeles hotel.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink

June 5, 2008

‘Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”

‘Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.” —Canadian “Human Rights” Investigator Dean Steacy, responding to the question “What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?”

This is the way free speech ends, not with a bang but as the result of an administrative hearing in a windowless basement in Vancouver, Canada.

At least that’s where a “Human Rights Tribunal” is taking place this week that will further solidify the Canadian legal position that the right not to be offended by something you read is more sacred than the freedom of the press.

Mark Hemingway writes the Idiot's Guide to Completely Idiotic Canadian 'Human Rights' Tribunals.

The hearing against Mark Steyn and Canada's most popular magazine Maclean's has been going on this week in Vancouver.

I've been following the liveblogging by Maclean's national editor Andrew Coyne.

It reads like a slapstick farce in a kangaroo court and would be laugh-out-loud funny if you didn't know that both Steyn and Maclean's will be found guilty after hearing closing arguments tomorrow.

As Hemingway notes
the Canadian Human Rights Commission is stunningly effective: In its 31 years of existence, not a single complaint brought before it has been dismissed. That's right: Everyone is guilty before God and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Mark Steyn reflects himself on the goings-on "Geez, these days, I don't seem able to step out of the house without committing a hate crime"

By the way, I see I've been nominated for a National Magazine Award, to be handed out later this month. By then, Mr. Joseph will have succeeded in getting the B.C. troika effectively to ban me from Maclean's and from all Canadian journalism. An impressive achievement.  My book was a No. 1 bestseller in Canada, and the new paperback edition was at No. 4 the other day, and President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Jon Kyl and (at last count) six European prime ministers have either recommended the book or called me in to discuss its themes. But in Canada it's a hate crime.

One thing I've learned these last few months is that it's always worse than you expect. The willingness of the B.C. troika's social engineers to trample over every basic rule of English law has embedded at the heart of Canadian justice a soft beguiling totalitarianism. I'll be the first No. 1 bestselling author and National Magazine Award-nominated columnist to be deemed unpublishable in Canada.

But I won't be the last.

To get a sense of what these HRCs are doing, they are now attempting to prosecute a case against an American resident, based upon what an American citizen allegedly posted to a mainstream American Catholic website.

What passes for mainstream Catholic discussion in America is now the basis of a hate complaint in Canada.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:11 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2008

"Cushy' Jails

Britain again where the jails are so comfortable, criminals are breaking in. 

40,000 prisoners snub chance of early release because jails are so 'cushy'.

The findings follow warnings from prison officers' leaders, who claimed inmates were often happy to enjoy 'soft' conditions behind bars, where drugs are cheaper than outside.

They said prostitutes plied their trade in open prisons and criminals in secure units enjoyed breakfast in bed, satellite TV and sports facilities, while staff treated them 'with kid gloves' and were 'subservient' for fear of breaching their human rights.

Meanwhile the government is planning a nationwide 'deradicalisation' program to deal with the many who have been drawn into Islamist extremism but have yet to commit a crime.

One pilot program cited
is already mentoring "vulnerable individuals" using techniques including encouraging them to feel more valued and to eradicate myths and assumptions which have led to them becoming alienated and disempowered.

Boosting the self-esteem  of would-be jihadists through counseling.  It's probably better than it sounds since the proposed plan supports grassroots projects.  A bottom-up approach to transforming youths in trouble rather than a top-down government initiative. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:22 AM | Permalink

June 2, 2008

Racist flag and "no go" Muslim areas in Britain

A British teen-ager in England was told by a police officer to remove his England flag from inside his car because it could be offensive to immigrants.  If he didn't he was told, he would be fined 30 pounds.

Meanwhile two Christian preachers face arrest in Birmingham.
A police community support officer ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing out gospel leaflets in a predominately Muslim are of Birmingham.
--
The evangelists say they were threatened with arrest for committing a "hate crime" and were told they risked being beaten up if they returned. The incident will fuel fears that "no-go areas" for Christians are emerging in British towns and cities
--

West Midlands Police, who refused to apologise, said the incident had been "fully investigated" and the officer would be given training in understanding hate crime and communication.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:11 PM | Permalink

"Too white and too middle class to adopt"

Britain continues its slow suicide

Social workers said we were too middle class and too white to adopt

As prospective parents, they might seem ideal. Gavin, 39, is an executive editor of BBC TV’s prestigious Question Time and The Politics Show. Teresa, 42, is a director of a staff recruitment business.

They have good incomes, a spacious home and a supportive family and friends. They have been together for nearly 20 years and married for ten.

Yet they have been ignored, rejected, patronised and repeatedly humiliated by Britain’s adoption system. They have willingly paid thousands of pounds, accepted rude and intrusive questions, completed countless bureaucratic forms and  have come to a shocking conclusion: that all they can offer is outweighed by the huge disadvantage of being white and middle-class.

It is a story that illustrates the distressing truth about adoption – that children are routinely denied loving parents and a home because of politically correct policies that prevent the placement of black or mixed-race babies with white couples.
--

‘We have discovered that if you are white and have a decent living, the adoption authorities put you to the bottom of the pile,’ explains Teresa.

‘This is despite the fact that there are children who desperately need families. It’s so heartbreaking that we have decided to speak about this in public.

'Many couples don’t dare say anything, fearing it will hinder their adoption. But we feel that children are being let down by a system that is wrong and operates on a set of imperatives that don’t work.’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:57 PM | Permalink

May 29, 2008

"Radical Islam filling void left by collapse of Christianity in Britain"

The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, already facing death threats for saying that certain areas of Britain have become "no-go" areas for non-Muslims says the Collapse of Christianity is wrecking British society.

It has destroyed family life and left the country defenceless against the rise of radical Islam in a moral and spiritual vacuum.

In a lacerating attack on liberal values, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, said the country was mired in a doctrine of 'endless self-indulgence' that had brought an explosion in public violence and binge-drinking.

Radical Islam filling void

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, claimed the "social and sexual" revolution of the 1960s had led to a steep decline in the influence of Christianity over society which church leaders had failed to resist.
--

Asking what weapons are available to fight this new "ideological battle", the bishop said the values trumpeted by modern politicians such as "respect, tolerance and good behaviour" are "hardly adequate for the task before us".

"The consequences of the loss of this discourse are there for all to see: the destruction of the family because of the alleged parity of different forms of life together; the loss of a father figure, especially for boys, because the role of fathers is deemed otiose; the abuse of substances (including alcohol); the loss of respect for the human person leading to horrendous and mindless attacks on people."

The bishop added that Christian hospitality has been replaced by the "newfangled and insecurely founded" doctrine of multiculturalism, which has led to immigrants creating "segregated communities and parallel lives".

He said many values respected by society, such as the dignity of human life, equality and freedom, are based on Christian ones. But he warned that without their Christian backbone they cannot exist for ever, and that new belief systems may be based on different values.

"Radical Islamism, for example, will emphasise the solidarity of the umma (worldwide community of the Muslim faithful) against the freedom of the individual.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink

May 22, 2008

Britannia Drowning

When I read the news from England, I imagine the bright, shiny coin of the British Empire on which Britannia stood strong to protect the rights of her citizens now falling into the darkness with just her head above water, gasping.

 Britannnia Drowning

Children no longer have a right to a father or even a male role model since Parliament voted that fertility clinics need no longer consider a child's need for a father when a single woman or a lesbian couple seeks fertility services.  The experience of the ages that tells us that fathers are necessary for the stable environment needed to raise healthy and happy children is being tossed aside.  Instead human beings are now to be manufactured to suit the selfish desires of the putative parents trumping the needs of those children brought into the world in such a fashion.

We have evidence of "donor-conceived adults who describe the psychological and emotional anguish of being "genetic orphans" who struggle with
powerful feelings of loss of identity through not knowing one or both biological parents and their wider biological families...  They believe society was complicit in a serious wrong done to them in the way they were conceived and ask, “How could anyone think they had the right to do this to me?”

Donor-conceived children
know that the parents raising them are also the ones who intentionally created them with a severed relationship to at least one of their biological parents. The pain they feel was caused not by some distant, shadowy person who gave them up, but by the parent who cares for them.

This knowledge brings the loyalty and love they naturally feel for the parents raising them in direct conflict with the identity quest we all must go through. When they ask, "Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here?" they confront a welter of painful uncertainties our culture hasn't begun to understand.

Despite overwhelming evidence that children without fathers are far more susceptible to problems in school and with drink or drugs, the government now takes the official position that creating fatherless families is just fine. 

No wonder two million British citizens have left the U.K.  in the past decade, in the greatest exodus from the country in almost a century.

"Crossing the ultimate boundary" -human-animal embryos.

Regulators have agreed that 'Human-animal' embryos can be created and used for research.  This decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority  crosses a moral absolute, horrific all the more so because it's totally unnecessary.

Scientists want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs in a bid to extract stem cells. The embryos would then be destroyed within 14 days.

One conservative MP said
mingling animal and human DNA crossed an “ultimate boundary”. He said that exaggerated claims were giving patients false hope and that the dangers of the research were unknown. “In many ways we are like children playing with landmines without any concept of the dangers of the technology we are handling,” he said.

The United States, Canada and  Australia ban the creation of human-animal hybrids.  But Britain, the nation that prides itself on its caring for animals, has strict regulation on medical testing of animals, prohibits almost all genetically-altered food (much to the detriment of African farmers working their way out of poverty), where all natural ingredients are a 'must' for their cosmetics, shampoos and lotions, and only organic food will do, seems to have lost regard for the sanctity of human beings.

Human-animal  embryos are being "manufactured" to be used to extract embryonic stem cells despite the fact that embryonic stem cell research to date has been a bust.   
There are currently 72 therapies showing human benefits using adult stem cells and zero using embryonic stem cells.

Even worse the Gordon Brown, the current Prime Minister from the Labour party is a strong advocate, making "shameless use" of his own son who suffers from cystic fibrosis,  as David Warren points out in Down the Slope: 

But using his own son, as his exhibit, he has very emotionally declared that the creation of hybrid animal/human embryos for research purposes is "an inherently moral endeavour, that can save and improve the lives of thousands and over time, millions"

This in turn allows such as his unpleasant public health minister, Dawn Primarolo  to follow the argument through, and accuse those who are morally repelled by animal/human hybrids of actually willing that humans should suffer from incurable diseases. To be plain: emotional blackmail is being compounded with vile slander.

For Gordon Brown was uttering an untruth.  As even the leading "expert" advocate of the government's measures - Lord Robert Winston, the English fertility specialist, politician, and television personality - has admitted, there is no pressing need for animal/human hybrid embryos. He had already said that the loss of the hybrid clause "won't fundamentally alter the science of stem cell biology." The research could perfectly well go on with adult stem cells, to the use of which there is no moral objection. Even the Roman Catholic Church has contributed directly and materially to that research.
--

We are most certainly dealing with a moral absolute in this case. Our entire civilization (including all legal codes throughout the western world) depends upon the sharp and unambiguous distinction between what is human, and what is not.
We do not abandon this "front line" without inevitably lapsing into the kind of barbarism of which fascist-era Germany and Japan served as terrible warnings.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2008

Can the American experiment continue if we are ignorant and hate our own past?

"Unless we have an active memory of, and feel a certain awe for, those now dead and too often forgotten -- who built our universities, erected our majestic buildings, crafted the protocols of our government, and won  our wars --then we have become dead souls of a sort, who drift among the infrastructure they left behind."

A classicist, Victor Davis Hanson takes as his starting point, the Funeral Oration of Pericles

The first is to remind the Athenians that they were simply born lucky: the imperial grandeur that they enjoyed was due to their fathers and grandfathers, who “handed it down free to the present time by their valor.” Such gratitude and humility in the moral sense are, of course, important for a free people, likely to think their present success is all their own, and therefore, in their self-congratulation, prone to hubris and a lack of reflection. Recitation of the accomplishments of earlier others also reminds Athenians that they are a mere link in a larger chain. And therefore they carry obligations to their children not to squander what the sacrifices of their parents achieved.

Victor Davis Hanson warns of the Perils of Cultural Amnesia at the 2008 Bradley Symposium.

The perils Hanson sees are

1. Forgetting the Drudgery of the Past.
We make no allowance for the horrific frontier experiences of millions of poor immigrants of all races, whose real enemies were not always each other, Native Americans, or the “system”....but rather the physical world itself.  In pre-industrial times, how did people head westward without good maps, with only horse-powered wagons, when a strep throat, a pregnancy, or an infected small cut could mean a painful death.

2. Forgetting what was important
The loss of a proper notion of magnitude about the past not only means we elevate the less important over the seminal, but also lose any yardstick of the past by which to measure the present. Today we speak of the 4,000 American dead in an ongoing war for a democratic Iraq as part of the “worst” decision in American diplomatic or military history. But only a generation that was ignorant of the nearly 23,000 casualties suffered in a single day at Antietam, or the 81,000 dead and wounded lost at the Battle of Bulge, or the over 5,000 Americans killed in the first four years of the Philippines insurrection could employ such superlatives of their own experiences with war in Iraq.

3. Losing the ability to understand dilemmas
or the need to accept a bad choice when the alternative is far worse...History is tragedy... If we do not understand the sometimes bleak choices of history, then in the present and for the future we place upon ourselves such utopian burdens that almost any result will be caricatured and second-guessed. And the ultimate result with be a moral stasis,and the bankrupt notion that inaction is not an error of omission.

4. Our present hypocrisy .  A symptom of our cultural amnesia is the too easy casual judgment on past deeds especially in the academy and by taking our present affluence and prosperity for granted while condemning those in the past for those were largely responsible for it.

So what are the ramifications of our cultural amnesia?

Ignorance for one, self-indulgence for another.

Our present generation has nearly bankrupt the social security system, accumulated trillions of dollars in national debt, lost a war in Vietnam, spent trillions of dollars in national wealth on cosmetic surgeries, and induced a crass popular culture of conspicuousconsumption and self-indulgence—and yet has rewritten our public school history textbooks to emphasize the sins of our prior generations. The more we demonize the dead, the more we the living are then free to rewrite the rules of our own moral behavior.

If we can only see our history, Hanson concludes, in terms of racial, gender and class oppressions, what reason is there for the American experiment to continue?

The hard work of uniting diverse peoples under uniquely humane principles is the work of over two centuries; the easy task of ending it can by accomplished in a mere generation through our ignorance or hatred of ourselves and own past.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 AM | Permalink

May 17, 2008

When truth is no defense

The Department of Justice for the Canadian conservative government has released its defense of the hate speech provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

(Under the authority of this provision of law, Mark Steyn and MacLeans magazine have been brought up on charges of hate speech before three human rights commissions in Canada.  See Whither Canada?.  Five Canadian bloggers have also been sued by one Richard Warman, a former employee of the Canadian human rights commission.  See The Chilling Effect of Richard Warman)

37.  The defences of truth and fair comment remain available to torts such as defamation and seditious libel, regardless of the medium in which they occur. However, none of the traditional media can avail themselves of these defences in cases of alleged hate propaganda, whether the communication appears in print, on television or on a website.

38. As the Federal Court has explained, defences that may be available in tort actions are not available in cases of hate propaganda because the prohibition is concerned with adverse effects, not with intent.

Blogger Deborah Gyapong writes

I feel like a coup d'etat has taken place and I have awakened to the aftermath.
And this egregious affront to civil rights and to the freedom to speak the truth in Canada is being perpetuated now by the Conservative government.

Woe is us. I have this awful, awful feeling that we're too late. The war has been won by the other side and there are just mopping up operations left, and those that will be mopped up will be those who try to speak the truth in ways that the elite power structure does not like.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2008

"It can't happen here"

Despite my self-imposed general ban on politics, I do write often about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, those priceless rights we've been given and for which we have an obligation to pass on unhindered to the generations that follow us.  These civil rights are  a legacy that belongs to all of us; they transcends political differences.

Jonathan Strong writing in the American Thinker is troubled by the same Human Rights Regression that bothers me.

Canadian author Mark Steyn has warned in his book, American Alone, that the West faces major civilizational threats from a combination of it's declining birth rate and an influx of Muslim immigrants, many of whom do not share Western values, and some of whom are violently opposed to Western values.  Like Mr. Levant, Steyn too has been summoned to appear before the British Columbia Human Rights Commission (HRC) to answer before the thought police for portions of his book that were published in Maclean's magazine (Canada's largest weekly news magazine).
--

These HRCs are dangerous (and illegitimate) because they defy hundreds of years of British legal tradition and history.  The British legacy of the rule of law is one of the greatest legacies of British culture in all of history.  Around the world in former colonies and protectorates, the traditions that stem from British courts often continue today even if those nations no longer consider themselves as part of the Commonwealth.  The defiance of history observed by the HRCs and plaintiffs against Steyn are exemplified by a brief review of the time tested legal principles of standing, evidence, and damages.
--

There are also no rules of evidence.  There is no "proof" required, and hearsay abounds within a HRC trial.  The lack of evidentiary rules makes most lawyers cringe.  Everything, including the kitchen sink, can be included in a complaint for the HRC to examine without any fact finding, witnesses, or proof.  The HRC members will then determine what is admissible, important, and "true", which commonly means everything alleged.
--
Steyn does not advocate violence or hatred, he writes to warn the west of the danger that looms because of an ideology that opposes to the values the West has held dear for hundreds of years: freedom of speech, equality of opportunity, the rule of law, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. Steyn's book has warned us of the threats to our Western values, the law suit against him exemplifies that the threat is real and immediate.

Just in case you think 'Well, that's Canada. It couldn't happen here', look what happened to a student and janitor who was found guilty of "racial harassment" for reading a public library book on a university campus in Indiana.

My 'racial harassment'  nightmare

the $106,000-a-year affirmative-action officer who declared me guilty of "racial harassment" never spoke to me or examined the book. My own union - the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - sent an obtuse shop steward to stifle my freedom to read. He told me, "You could be fired," that reading the book was "like bringing pornography to work."
--
Affirmative Action Office of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis from branding me as a detestable Klansman.
They didn't want to hear the truth. The office ruled that my "repeatedly reading the book . . . constitutes racial harassment in that you demonstrated disdain and insensitivity to your co-workers."
--
After months of stonewalling, the university withdrew the charge, thanks to pressure from the press, the American Civil Liberties Union and a group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE.

Let me be clear: I don't view this episode as a black-against-white or conservative-vs.-liberal issue. It's a basic civil-liberties issue.
--

The unchecked power of such campus bureaucrats needs to be restrained. And if a union like AFSCME won't protect its workers' constitutional rights, it should go out of business.
If they can stop me from reading one book, then they can stop any American from reading any book.

The book incidentally, not that it should matter, was Todd Tucker's "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Klu Klux Klan.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" is often quoted though no one knows who first said it.  Don't be tempted to think that the freedom of not being offended in any way rises to the importance of freedom of speech and religion. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2008

Why even the idea of Plant Rights is bad

Am I supposed to feel guilty because I eat salads and fruits? 

The Silent Scream of the Asparagus

This sounds like a joke but isn't.  What it does demonstrate is another way the rights you take for granted can be made subject to a bureaucrat's whim. 

What is clear, however, is that Switzerland's enshrining of "plant dignity" is a symptom of a cultural disease that has infected Western civilization, causing us to lose the ability to think critically and distinguish serious from frivolous ethical concerns. It also reflects the triumph of a radical anthropomorphism that views elements of the natural world as morally equivalent to people.
--
ts majority view holds that it would if the genetic modification caused plants to "lose their independence"--for example by interfering with their capacity to reproduce.

So much for breeding seedless Clementines or grafting hybrid wine grapes.

Belmont Club on the Plant Rights

Swiss lawyers are elaborating the doctrine of vegetable rights.
--
Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology to figure it out." In short, they are arguing that plants have inherent rights which humans can't transgress. It sounds ridiculous.
--
who is really being "empowered" by the Swiss committee's decision? Is it plants? No. It is bureaucrats. The point of vegetable rights isn't to give plants dignity but to transfer yet more individual human freedoms to activists and government officials.

Deciding that individuals had power over themselves and the things around them was central to the development of human freedom -- and human rights
--

The point of legally empowering vegetables is not to give standing to a stalk of celery who might suddenly decide to appear in court, but to empower the bureaucrats and activist lawyers who will appear on their behalf. Today we already have spokesmen for Gaia. Tomorrow the lawyers from Brussels will be lawyers for brussels sprouts.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 AM | Permalink

April 28, 2008

Bawer on creeping sharia

Bruce Bawer collects all too many examples of how Westerners are acquiescing to 'creeping sharia' in An Anatomy of Surrender.

Westerners have begun, in other words, to internalize the strictures of sharia, and thus implicitly to accept the deferential status of dhimmis—infidels living in Muslim societies.
--
Press acquiescence to Muslim demands and threats is endemic.

From the BBC to the lack of coverage of the astounding result in the 2007 Pew poll of American Muslims aged 18-29 that showed 20% of them supported suicide bombing to the 'affectionate' reporting of a Brooklyn Iman, Reda Shata, by a New York Times reporter who focused on sympathetic personal details, only mentioning
in passing that Shata didn’t speak English, refused to shake women’s hands, wanted to forbid music, and supported Hamas and suicide bombing.
--
Many free people, alas, have become so accustomed to freedom, and to the comfortable position of not having to stand up for it, that they’re incapable of defending it when it’s imperiled—or even, in many cases, of recognizing that it is imperiled.

What are you doing to preserve and pass on the freedoms given you?   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

April 15, 2008

Speech compelled by government coercion

Whatever you feel about homosexual rights ( and isn't every person due full respect as a human being/) , if you value the right to  free speech and freedom of religion, you have to be disturbed by the recent decision of the New Mexico Human Rights Commission (HRC) . 

A lesbian couple went to an evangelical Christian husband and wife photographic team  to hire them to take their wedding photographs.  They refused to photograph the same-sex ceremony for reasons of religious conscience.  The New Mexico HRC
fined them $6600. 
Fortunately hat decision is being appealed

Mr. and Mrs. Huguenin was represented by Jordan Lorence, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), who argued that photography was a form of artistic expression, thus forcing the couple to photograph the wedding was a form of compelled speech prohibited by the First Amendment.

"It was a very short order [with] absolutely no reference to the First Amendment defenses that we raised," Mr. Lorence told the Washington Times. "I find this a stunning disregard for the First Amendment issues in this case."

"This is compelled speech; this is forcing a photographer to advance a message with her artistic skills that she would not do absent government coercion," Mr. Lorence said.

Would it be so hard for the lesbian couple to tolerate and respect their views and just go somewhere else? 

Aren't we all obligated to do so in this rich, variegated society of so many different peoples, practice tolerance.

via Kathy Shadie

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink

April 14, 2008

UNESCO destroys thousands of books

I found this extraordinary and demoralizing but not surprising.    Remember this the next time you order UNESCO cards or send your kids out to collect funds for the same. 

U.N. Organization Destroyed Thousands of Books

For more than two decades, 250 historians and specialists labored to produce the first six volumes of the General History of Latin America, an exhaustive work financed by UNESCO, the United Nations organization created to preserve global culture and heritage.

Then, over the course of two years, UNESCO paid to destroy many of those books and nearly 100,000 others by turning them to pulp, according to an external audit.

--
Mexico's ambassador, Homero Aridjis, said at the organization's executive council meeting this past week: "This is not only a blow to the culture and knowledge of entire populations and nations, it contradicts the mandate entrusted to UNESCO."
--
The director general of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, said it was "completely incomprehensible and inappropriate" that some of the organization's "most important and successful collections" were ordered destroyed, including histories of humanity and Africa, and surveys of ancient monuments.

When the book warehouses were moved from Paris to Brussels, UNESCO officials ordered the books pulped so they wouldn't have to pay to move them.

Just think how many schools around the world would have been ecstatic to receive these books.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:51 PM | Permalink

April 10, 2008

The Chilling Effect of Richard Warman

The circus that's going on in Canada would be amusing but for the fact the Canadian right to free speech is being imperiled by kangaroo courts known as Human Rights Commissions where truth is no defense and due process rights don't exist.

Sean Murphy of the Catholic Civil Rights League aptly summed up one notorious case, in which, "a Christian printer is ordered to produce business cards and letterhead for an organization that promotes pro-pedophilia essays, is fined $5,000 for having refused to do so and is left with $40,000 in legal bills for daring to defend himself."

One man who ran a small restaurant was brought up on charges of human rights abuses because he dared ask a guy who was smoking a marijuana cigarette on his doorstep to move away.

Two transexuals are suing a prominent physician because he refused to perform labiaplasty on them on the grounds that he operates on biological females and doesn't have any experience in labiaplasty on men.

Doesn't this seem crazy to you? You may be wondering what human rights have these people violated.  Join the crowd.

The columnist Mark Steyn was caught up in the madness being called up before two on the CHRCs.  Yesterday the Ontario HRC dropped its investigation against Steyn and Maclean's magazine for printing an except of Steyn's book, America Alone, but not before saying they were guilty of Islamophobia, in what Steyn called a drive by conviction.  Freedom of speech and the presumption of innocence? Nah.

One man in particular is using those commissions as his private star chamber.  Richard Warman has made a profitable business by suing hapless Canadians for thought crimes, achieving a 100% conviction rate, and pocketing tens of thousands of tax-freedollars in awards from the Canadian human rights commissions where he used to be employed for his 'pain and suffering'.    Apparently, he has full access to the HRC investigations and he's perfectly free to use the HRC computers or to hijack the wireless network of a private citizen to pose hate messages on a white supremacist site that apparently wasn't hateful enough.  He is so litigious that the province of British Columbia had to pass a special law to stop him from suing libraries who carried books he didn't approve of.

Now, Warman is suing the Canadian bloggers who have been on his case and reported his nefarious shenanigans to the world, no doubt hoping for private settlements offline.  Not a chance with these folks

Kate McMillan of small dead animals had the effrontery of linking to allegedly libelous statements of Kathy Shadie who writes at five feet of fury and that's just what she's been, allowing Warman no quarter and no  cover for the nasty business he's been engaged in and the nasty piece of work he is.  When a Canadian senator, Anne Cools, announced her intention to intervene before the Supreme Court on the question of gay marriage, Warman posted a under pseudonym ( on Richard Lemire's Freedom site already under investigation because of a complaint Warman filed) that Senator Cools was a "n**ger "and a "c**t".    This revelation seems to be what sparked the lawsuits against Kate, Kathy, Free Dominion, the National Post and Ezra Levant who has posted all the details of the suit.

Steyn wrote yesterday about Global Warman
It's not possible to take a stand against the Canadian Human Rights Commission without also talking a stand against Richard Warman. He has been the plaintiff on half the Section 13 cases in its entire history and on all the Section 13 cases since 2002. There are 30 million Canadians yet only one of them uses this law, over and over and over again.

Make no mistake.  Warman is attempting to censor the free speech of Canadian bloggers by intimidation.
To defend themselves, the bloggers can expect to pay hefty legal fees.  Just the threat that some crazy person like Warman will sue them and you can expect other bloggers to begin, if they haven't already, to censor themselves.  It's called the chilling effect.  If Warman is  successful, if the HRCs are successful, we all lose. Not only will Canadians say or write what they think, the pattern will be attempted here in the USA. Free speech has to be defended and it has its costs.

Please consider, especially if you are a blogger, donating to their defense funds.  Each of them has a button on the site that you can click to donate even a small amount to show support.  Be part of the defense of free speech.

UPDATE:

      Cartoon Mr America
From blazing cat fur who calls such donations "Save the Canadian Blog Children Fund"
" Free speech is your God-Given Right, it should be theirs too"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:59 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2008

Why you can't carry your coffee onto the plane

These are the British Muslims, now on trial for their conspiracy to detonate liquid explosives on transatlantic passenger flights, "all in the name of Islam."

     British Muslims

Airline terror plotters planned bigger 9/11

Their plans were allegedly so advanced that they had drawn up details of specific flights to be targeted and bought the components needed to make hydrogen peroxide bombs disguised as soft drinks such as Lucozade and Oasis.

But they were arrested before they were able to make "a violent and deadly statement of intent that would have truly global impact", a jury was told.
--
The alleged bombers had drawn up plans to attack seven Boeing 777, 767 and 763 aircraft, each carrying between 241 and 285 passengers and crew, operated by American Airlines, United Airlines and Air Canada, said Mr Wright.

The next time you have to dump your coffee and want to complain about the new restrictions on carrying liquids on airplanes, remember them and why the restrictions were imposed.

Let's not forget that In Britain, terrorism by Muslim fanatics has been renamed "anti-Islamic activity.

The head of MI5 has warned that 4000 Muslim fanatics are on the loose.  Terror attacks, he said, are part of a deliberate campaign by Al Qaeda.  Thankfully, they caught these eight.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 AM | Permalink

April 1, 2008

Bored by Decency

After years of working as a psychiatrist at one of Britain's prisons, observing closely the destructive behavior and environments that brought him his clients, Theodore Dalrymple analyzed the underclass:
"not poor... by the standards of human history" but trapped in "a special wretchedness" from which it cannot emerge.

   

"Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass" (Theodore Dalrymple)

Long term poverty, he concludes, is caused not by economics but by a dysfunctional set of values.

"The combination of relativism and antipathy to traditional culture has played a large part in creating the underclass, thus turning Britain from a class to a caste society. ... Henceforth what they had and what they did was as good as anything, because all cultures and all cultural artifacts are equal. Aspiration was therefore pointless: and thus they have been immobilized in their poverty -- material, mental, and spiritual -- as completely as the damned in Dante's Inferno. Having in large part created this underclass, the British intelligentsia, guilty about its own allegedly undemocratic antecedents, feels obliged to flatter it by imitation and has persuaded the rest of the middle class to do likewise."

The searing account of British youth in Time magazine, Britain's Mean Streets,  is getting a lot of attention across the pond by ordinary people defenseless in their encounters with 'youths' and despairing of the reluctance of the police to do anything to protect them.

the increase in nasty teenage crime that really has Britain spooked. Violent offenses by British under-18s rose 37% in the three years to 2006. Last September, 29-year-old Gavin Waterhouse died from an assault by two boys. It was recorded on a cell phone by a 15-year-old girl. In January, three teenagers from northwestern England were convicted of kicking to death 47-year-old Garry Newlove after he tried to stop them vandalizing his car. In the wake of their trial, the Sun newspaper declared "the most important issue now facing Britain" to be "the scourge of feral youngsters."
--

All that is true. But it is also true that for what Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of the Children's Society, calls a "significant minority" of British children, unhappiness — and the criminality, excessive drinking and drug-taking and promiscuity that is its expression — really have created a crisis. Says Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, an organization working with some of London's poorest young: "If I was sitting in government, I'd be really worried — not about terrorist bombs but about this.

What accounts for the epidemic of self-destructiveness that has struck British society?    Dalrymple offered this explanation in an interview with Front Page magazine following the publication of his book :


"

"Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses" (Theodore Dalrymple)

One reason for the epidemic of self-destructiveness that has struck British, if not the whole of Western, society, is the avoidance of boredom. For people who have no transcendent purpose to their lives and cannot invent one through contributing to a cultural tradition (for example), in other words who have no religious belief and no intellectual interests to stimulate them, self-destruction and the creation of crises in their life is one way of warding off meaninglessness. I have noticed, for example, that women who frequent bad men - that is to say men who are obviously unreliable, drunken, drug-addicted, criminal, or violent, or all of them together, have often had experience of decent men who treat them well, with respect, and so forth: they are the ones with whom their relationships lasted the shortest time, because they were bored by decency. Without religion or culture (and here I mean high, or high-ish, culture) evil is very attractive. It is not boring.   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

March 31, 2008

What's Right about the West

George Weigel writes in The West and the Rest

What's right about the West, about this unique civilizational enterprise formed by the fruitful interaction of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome — biblical religion, rationality, and the idea of a law-governed polity?
1. Openness
2. Freedom
3. Knowledge
4. Generosity
5. Beauty
6. Humor
---
In addition to ending the slave trade, abolishing slavery, and enfranchising women, the West has produced virtually every major humanitarian initiative in modern history, from the Red Cross to Doctors Without Borders, from the green revolution to the eradication of river blindness, from care for the mentally and physically handicapped to the abrogation of forced marriage.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2008

Changing the world, one soul at a time UPDATED

Raymond Ibrahim writes Islam's 'Public Enemy #1' is a Coptic priest Zakaria Botros who appears
frequently on the Arabic channel al-Hayat (i.e., “Life TV”). There, he addresses controversial topics of theological significance — free from the censorship imposed by Islamic authorities or self-imposed through fear of the zealous mobs who fulminated against the infamous cartoons of Mohammed. Botros’s excurses on little-known but embarrassing aspects of Islamic law and tradition have become a thorn in the side of Islamic leaders throughout the Middle East.

Botros has famously made 10 demands of Islam that serve to highlight the radical demands Islam makes of non-Muslims. The result: mass conversions to Christianity, albeit many clandestine ones. One Islamic cleric on Al Jazeera estimated that 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity annually.  This is an extraordinary number considering that each convert faces ostracism, persecution and even death for apostasy.

The ultimate reason for Botros’s success is that — unlike his Western counterparts who criticize Islam from a political standpoint — his primary interest is the salvation of souls. He often begins and concludes his programs by stating that he loves all Muslims as fellow humans and wants to steer them away from falsehood to Truth. To that end, he doesn’t just expose troubling aspects of Islam. Before concluding every program, he quotes pertinent biblical verses and invites all his viewers to come to Christ.

Botros’s motive is not to incite the West against Islam, promote “Israeli interests,” or “demonize” Muslims, but to draw Muslims away from the dead legalism of sharia to the spirituality of Christianity. Many Western critics fail to appreciate that, to disempower radical Islam, something theocentric and spiritually satisfying — not secularism, democracy, capitalism, materialism, feminism, etc. — must be offered in its place. The truths of one religion can only be challenged and supplanted by the truths of another. And so Father Zakaria Botros has been fighting fire with fire.

Another writer on the big untold story in the Middle East, looks at country by country to say  Muslims converting to Christianity in record numbers .
The Egyptian Bible Society told me they used to sell about 3,000 copies of the Jesus film a year in the early 1990s. But in 2005 they sold 600,000 copies, plus 750,000 copies of the Bible on tape (in Arabic) and about a half million copies of the Arabic New Testament.

Spengler, brilliant as always writes on The mustard seed in global strategy
A self-described revolution in world affairs has begun in the heart of one man. He is the Italian journalist and author Magdi Cristiano Allam
--
Magdi Allam tells us that he has found the true God and forsaken an Islam that he regards as inherently violent. Magdi Allam has a powerful voice as deputy editor of Italy's newspaper of record, Corriere della Sera, and a bestselling author. For years he was the exemplar of "moderate Islam" in Europe, and now he has decided that Islam cannot be "moderate".
--
Magdi Allam presents an existential threat to Muslim life, whereas other prominent dissidents, for example Ayaan Hirsi Ali, offer only an annoyance.

Allam hails Benedict XVI as the leader of the West.
The West is not fighting individual criminals, as the left insists; it is not fighting a Soviet-style state, as the Iraqi disaster makes clear; nor is it fighting a political movement. It is fighting a religion, specifically a religion that arose in enraged reaction to the West. None of the political leaders of the West, and few of the West's opinion leaders, comprehends this. We are left with the anomaly that the only effective leader of the West is a man wholly averse to war, a pope who took his name from the Benedict who interceded for peace during World War I. Benedict XVI, alone among the leaders of the Christian world, challenges Islam as a religion, as he did in his September 2006 Regensburg address.

The way out Spengler wrote after the Pope's Regensberg address, the way out is conversion.
"Now that everyone is talking about Europe's demographic death, it is time to point out that there exists a way out: convert European Muslims to Christianity." Today's Europeans stem from the melting-pot of the barbarian invasions that replaced the vanishing population of the Roman Empire. The genius of the Catholic Church was to absorb them. If Benedict XVI can convert this new wave of invaders from North Africa and the Middle East, history will place him on a par with his great namesake, the founder of the monastic order the bears his name
--
The global agenda has changed, not through the machinations of statesmen or the word-mincing of public intellectuals, but through the soul of a single man. Benedict's Regensburg challenge to Islam now demarcates the encounter between the West and the Muslim world, and nothing will be the same.

UPDATE: Intentional Disciples questions the 6 million figure cited above and calls it an urban legend, but she does point to the work of Independent  Christianity which I had never heard of, yet composes 20% of all Christians in the world.  She calls it an explosive global movement that most Catholics don't know exists.

It is these evangelizers - almost all of whom are lay - living in Muslim communities, loving their neighbors, teaching school, healing the sick, founding and running businesses, planting thousands of evangelizing small Christian communities in hundreds of different language groups and situations, writing books, making radio broadcasts, building relationships, trust, and credibility with Muslims they actually know personally - who have been used by God to turn the tide. Fr. Zacahrias is one rather loud horn in a vast symphony orchestra - and he isn't even first chair.

Remember that study that Dudley Woodbury did about why Muslims become Christian? Of the 5 primary reasons that 750 MBBs gave - the central theme was love. God's love reflected consistently in the lives of Christians they knew. Being exposed to the love of Christ through the gospels.

Not media, Not TV. Not apologetics. Love. From tens of thousands of expat missionaries and hundreds of thousands of national Christians who are "Great commission" Christians.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:58 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2008

On Easter, The Muslim and me

"Having been condemned to death, I have reflected a long time on the value of life" wrote Magdi Allam, a Muslim and deputy director of Corriere della Sera, Italy's leading newspaper, when he wrote about threats to his life after he condemned Palestinian suicide bombers in 2003.

                   Magdi Christian Allam

On the vigil of Easter, Magdi Allam was baptised by Pope Benedict XVI himself and took a new baptismal name Christian on what he later called, "the most beautiful day of my life." 

           Pope Baptises Allam

He wrote in an article appeared in the Corriere della Sera that
the witness of Catholics, who “gradually became a point of reference in regard to the certainty of truth and the solidity of values,” played an important role in his conversion.

His most decisive influence he said was Benedict XVI
“who I admired and, as a Muslim, defended for his mastery in setting down the indissoluble link between faith and reason as a basis for authentic religion and human civilization, and to whom I fully adhere as a Christian to inspire me with new light in the fulfillment of the mission God has reserved for me.”

I had always admired Pope John Paul II as a great and holy man,  I marveled at his courage and later at his visit to prison to forgive his assassin, but from a certain distance.    When Cardinal Ratzinger spoke to the Sacred College of Cardinals assembled in Rome for the funeral of John Paul II, I was electrified.

Let us dwell on only two points. The first is the journey towards “the maturity of Christ” as it is said in the Italian text, simplifying it a bit. More precisely, according to the Greek text, we should speak of the “measure of the fullness of Christ”, to which we are called to reach in order to be true adults in the faith. We should not remain infants in faith, in a state of minority. And what does it mean to be an infant in faith? Saint Paul answers: it means “tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery” (Eph 4, 14). This description is very relevant today!

How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking… The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. .... Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching”, looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today’s standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.

I was that small boat of thought, tossed around 'by every wind of teaching' , motivated mainly by my ego and desires  until inspired by Ratzinger who became Pope Benedict XVI , I began my journey towards an 'adult and mature faith'.  The whole journey is too long to be recounted here and now, except its conclusion; I have come home to the Catholic faith and the Mother Church: I have I felt so whole. 

No where near as brave as Christian Allam, I am humbled by his journey to conversion that he recounts here.
my mind was freed from the obscurantism of an ideology that legitimates lies and deception, violent death that leads to murder and suicide, the blind submission to tyranny, I was able to adhere to the authentic religion of truth, of life and of freedom.
--
My conversion to Catholicism is the touching down of a gradual and profound interior meditation from which I could not pull myself away, given that for five years I have been confined to a life under guard, with permanent surveillance at home and a police escort for my every movement, because of death threats and death sentences from Islamic extremists and terrorists, both those in and outside of Italy.
--
It is thanks to members of Catholic religious orders that I acquired a profoundly and essentially an ethical conception of life, in which the person created in the image and likeness of God is called to undertake a mission that inserts itself in the framework of a universal and eternal design directed toward the interior resurrection of individuals on this earth and the whole of humanity on the day of judgment, which is founded on faith in God and the primacy of values, which is based on the sense of individual responsibility and on the sense of duty toward the collective. It is in virtue of a Christian education and of the sharing of the experience of life with Catholic religious that I cultivated a profound faith in the transcendent dimension and also sought the certainty of truth in absolute and universal values.

I too want to fight against the dictatorship of relativism and its softer cousin, the culture of whatever - wherever  and whenever I can.  I too want to stand behind the Pope who offers the only strong and muscular defense of faith and reason as the basis for authentic religion and the culture of life as the basis of civilization.  I too want to uphold reason and the sacredness of life against the tide of nihilism and extremism that threatens to engulf us.  So, in my small way, I will do so.

These past three days of the Triduum, I have been drenched in music and beauty with friends and fellow worshipers and filled with gratitude  and immense joy.  I feel reborn, even  Exultent and can only point to the beautiful Easter chant I found via the Anchoress.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:54 AM | Permalink

March 19, 2008

Haunting Specter Unexplained

On December 1, 2006, one of the eeriest autopsies in the annals of crime was conducted at the Royal London Hospital. Three British pathologists, covered from head to toe in white protective suits, stood around a radioactive corpse that had been sealed in plastic for nearly a week. The victim was Alexander Litvinenko, a 44-year-old ex-KGB officer who had defected from Russia to England in November 2000 and had drawn on his experience to denounce the government of the newly installed President Putin. What the pathologists found is still a state secret.

The Specter That Haunts the Death of Litvinenko by Edward Jay Epstein.

Litvinvenko was not poisoned with thallium as originally thought but by polonium-210, one of the world's rarest and most tightly controlled radioactive isotopes.  Polonium-210 is a critical component in early-stage nuclear bombs.

Most likely Litvinenko came into contact with a polonium-210 smuggling operation.

What it obscured is the elephant-in-the-room that haunts the case: the fact that a crucial component for building an early-stage nuke was smuggled into London in 2006. Was it brought in merely as a murder weapon or as part of a transaction on the international arms market?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

March 6, 2008

Sloppy thinking leads to creeping sharia at Harvard

Ali Eteraz has the best response to Harvard's decision to ban men from a gym for several hours a week to accommodate Muslim women who can not exercise comfortably in their presence.

If the university had simply said that the gym was closed in those hours to accommodate “women that do not feel comfortable working out in front of men” — that would be OK. This new classification would include women who might have been raped, assaulted, molested, or had other emotional issues that made it difficult for them to work out in male dominated spaces.

Muslims play a dangerous and stupid game when they start demanding things based on their Islam. Even the most conservative reading of classical Sharia reveals that Eunuchs were allowed to wander freely through the harem. In other words, a known homosexual man who has never had sex with a woman and never will, can make a powerful case under Sharia that he cannot be excluded from the gym hours.

Michael Graham has the funniest
In the old days, Harvard would have laughed if some Catholic or evangelical mother urged “girls-only” campus workouts in the name of modesty. Today, Harvard happily implements Sharia swim times in the name of Mohammed.

At Harvard, that’s called progress.

Mark Steyn has the last word.
In Minneapolis last year, the airport licensing authority, faced with a mainly Muslim crew of cab drivers refusing to carry the blind, persons with six-packs of Bud, slatternly women, etc, proposed instituting two types of taxis with differently colored lights, one of which would indicate the driver was prepared to carry members of identity groups that offend Islam.  Forty years ago, advocating separate drinking fountains made you a racist.  Today, advocating separate taxi cabs or separate swimming sessions makes you a multiculturalist.

Harvard should be ashamed if only for the sloppy thinking that led to this embarrassment.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:32 PM | Permalink

February 26, 2008

Whither Canada?

If you haven't been keeping track of the soft sharia that's creeping up in Canada, then you must read Kathy Shaidle's article on Free Speech vs. Muslim Sensibilities.

You will not believe the kangaroo courts, ostensibly set up to "protect human rights", but which operate to intimidate those who don't accept the ideology of multiculturalism and don't believe that the right not to be offended trumps the right of free speech, the right to practice one's religion and the right of due process.

Sean Murphy of the Catholic Civil Rights League aptly summed up one notorious case, in which, "a Christian printer is ordered to produce business cards and letterhead for an organization that promotes pro-pedophilia essays, is fined $5,000 for having refused to do so and is left with $40,000 in legal bills for daring to defend himself."
__

Most Canadians don't realize that these Commissions and tribunals aren't "real" courts. They operate outside the criminal justice system in an Orwellian world of their own. To the CHRCs, traditional rules of evidence don't apply. Truth is no defense. Commissioners can confiscate a defendant's computer without a warrant. Defendants can be forced to apologize to their accusers, even though the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that even convicted murderers cannot be obliged to apologize to their victim's family; that, the Court ruled, would be, "cruel and unusual punishment."

Incredibly, the CHRCs boast a Stalinist 100 percent conviction rate: no one has ever been found "not guilty." Columnist David Warren's chilling description of CHRC tribunals is impossible to improve upon:

"They are kangaroo courts, in which the defendant's right to due process is withdrawn. They reach judgments on the basis of no fixed law. Moreover, 'the process is the punishment' in these star chambers -- for simply by agreeing to hear a case, they tie up the defendant in bureaucracy and paperwork, and bleed him for the cost of lawyers, while the person who brings the complaint, however frivolous, stands to lose nothing. (...)

"That's why you go to an HRC: because your case is not good enough to stand up in a legitimate court of law. And because you don't want to invest your own time and money, but would rather the taxpayer provide officers to do the paperwork, and pick up the tab. Instead, you want a slam-dunk way in which you can victimize someone you don't like, by playing the victim yourself, without any financial or legal consequences, except to him. 'Human rights' commissions were designed to provide just this service, for the use of persons who are both litigious, and lazy."

Two people caught up in the madness that are Canada's Human Right Commissions are Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, yes that Mark Steyn.

Ezra Levant printed the Mohammed cartoons in his magazine the Western Standard.
An excerpt from Mark Steyn's America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It"  was reprinted in Canada's largest weekly magazine, Maclean's.

There are existing laws against defamation, death threats and libel that work perfectly well.  Neither Steyn nor Levant said or did anything that would make them liable in a court of law.  What the Human Right Commissions are attempting to regulate is not a crime but political thought and expression that may offend an individual or a group.

Ezra Levant was smart enough to have his interrogation sessions videotaped which he then put up on YouTube where they were seen by over half a million people and promptly became a hero to me and many, many others for his eloquent defense which can be seen here

Ezra Levant's Opening Statement

Ezra Levant, I don't answer to the state.

His website, ezralevant.com, keeps us informed of the fast-moving events in this case and in another threatened lawsuit by one Richard Warman and the support he has received.
the former investigator for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, who quit the commission in 2004 to become the commission’s biggest customer. Approximately half of all complaints filed under the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s section 13 “idea crimes” provision have been filed by Warman. The CHRC has a 100% conviction rate under that section, and besides ordering the poor shleps Warman complains about to pay fines to the government, they’re often ordered to pay thousands of dollars to Warman himself, too, for his “hurt feelings”. Unlike the paycheque he got when he used to work there, the cash he gets from commission fines is tax free.

Warman and his friends at the CHRC aren’t hitting me with a human rights complaint – not yet, anyways. But he is threatening me with the most bizarre defamation lawsuit I think I’ve ever encountered.

A new website Free Mark Steyn keeps track of the Steyn and Levant cases and the furious debate in Canada and in the blogosphere.

                     Free Mark Steyn

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:41 PM | Permalink

February 21, 2008

The Alarm Bells Are Ringing.

I rarely write about politics with one great exception, the alarming danger I see in the encroachment of the rights  - freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, the right to vote,  the rule of law, the equality of all men and women before the law  - that have been passed on to us by the generations before us.  I believe we hold those rights in trust and are bound to pass them on to future generations intact.  Those rights recognized in our Constitution and Bill of Rights do not belong to Americans alone but to everyone; they are universal human rights. 

When those hard-won rights are being lost little by little under the guise of multiculturalism and tolerance of 'whatever',  I am greatly alarmed.  Mark Steyn writes So what would it take to alarm you?

Sharia in Britain? Taxpayer-subsidized polygamy in Toronto? Yawn. Nothing to see here. True, if you'd suggested such things on Sept. 10, 2001, most Britons and Canadians would have said you were nuts. But a few years on and it doesn't seem such a big deal, and nor will the next concession, and the one after that. It's hard to deliver a wake-up call for a civilization so determined to smother the alarm clock in the soft fluffy pillow of multiculturalism and sleep in for another 10 years. The folks who call my book "alarmist" accept that the Western world is growing more Muslim (Canada's Muslim population has doubled in the last 10 years), but they deny that this population trend has any significant societal consequences. Sharia mortgages? Sure. Polygamy? Whatever. Honour killings? Well, okay, but only a few. The assumption that you can hop on the Sharia Express and just ride a couple of stops is one almighty leap of faith.

The war against Islamic jihadism now being fought around the globe is about more than terrorism, fearful and horrific as that is, it is also about the oppression of women.

If you have any doubt watch the video below but not with any children present because it is so graphic.    Weep for the millions of Muslims who are denied the basic rights we take for granted.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2008

Hearts and minds

As home-grown terrorists are acquitted, a new report says a lack of national identity as  made Britain vulnerable.

The report, published through the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank, declared Britain’s security to be at risk and its vulnerability to be down to a “loss of confidence in our own identity, values, constitution and institutions”.

Blaming multicultural Britain, the report concluded with a classic soundbite: “We look like a soft touch. We are indeed a soft touch, from within and without.
--

The public could be forgiven for being confused. What is the reality of Britain’s efforts to combat terrorism: impressive or rubbish? Soft or tough?

The RUSI report and the case of Raja and his codefendants reflect two important strands in Britain’s engagement with terror: the strength of our security apparatus and the nation’s cultural identity.
---
But for Prins the detection and conviction of extremists is the end point of a more important part of the fight against terrorism: disseminating a vision of British values so the various communities that live here do not become radicalised.

Hearts and minds.  It's all about Hearts and Minds.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:52 PM | Permalink

February 16, 2008

West is Best

Why the West is Best by Ibn Warraq

The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy—are superior to any others devised by humankind. It was the West that took steps to abolish slavery; the calls for abolition did not resonate even in Africa, where rival tribes sold black prisoners into slavery. The West has secured freedoms for women and racial and other minorities to an extent unimaginable 60 years ago. The West recognizes and defends the rights of the individual: we are free to think what we want, to read what we want, to practice our religion, to live lives of our choosing.

In short, the glory of the West, as philosopher Roger Scruton puts it, is that life here is an open book. Under Islam, the book is closed
--

A culture that gave the world the novel; the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; and the paintings of Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Rembrandt does not need lessons from societies whose idea of heaven, peopled with female virgins, resembles a cosmic brothel. Nor does the West need lectures on the superior virtue of societies in which women are kept in subjection under sharia, endure genital mutilation, are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and are married off against their will at the age of nine; societies that deny the rights of supposedly lower castes; societies that execute homosexuals and apostates. The West has no use for sanctimonious homilies from societies that cannot provide clean drinking water or sewage systems, that make no provisions for the handicapped, and that leave 40 to 50 percent of their citizens illiterate.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

February 12, 2008

Spengler on the Archbishop

Whenever I write about the Archbishop's remarks on sharia, I  can't help but recall that disgusting saying, "When rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it."      The Archbishop, Spengler points out,
acknowledged the fact of coercion of women in his February 7 address, but insisted that because it belonged to "custom" rather than "religious law", he preferred to change the subject:

Spengler on the  Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks on sharia being "unavoidable", Europe in the house of war.

Violence is oozing through the cracks of European society like pus out of a broken scab. Just when liberal opinion congratulated itself that Europe had forsaken its violent past, the specter of civil violence has the continent terrified. That is the source of the uproar over a February 7 speech by Archbishop Rowan Williams, predicting the inevitable acceptance of Muslim sharia law in Great Britain.
--

Europe may not have war, but it already has violence: its political authorities cringe and scurry and evade and lie in the face of actual or threatened violence by its Muslim communities. If its duly-constituted governments abandon their monopoly of violence to self-appointed religious leaders, the likelihood is that a river of blood will flow, just as Powell warned in 1968.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink

Lent re-branded as 'Christian Ramadan'

It only took a generation. 

There are the four million Dutch who describe themselves as Roman Catholics but the young people are far more familiar with Islam than Christianity.

The Christian Ramadan

The Catholic charity Vastenaktie, which collects for the Third World across the Netherlands during the Lent period, is concerned that the Christian festival has become less important for the Dutch over the last generation.

"The image of the Catholic Lent must be polished. The fact that we use a Muslim term is related to the fact that Ramadan is a better-known concept among young people than Lent," said Vastenaktie Director, Martin Van der Kuil.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

A Muslim woman replies to the Archbishop of Canterbury

What he wishes on us is an abomination.   Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Independent

What Rowan Williams wishes upon us is an abomination and I write here as a modern Muslim woman. He lectures the nation on the benefits of sharia law – made by bearded men, for men – and wants the alternative legal system to be accommodated within our democracy in the spirit of inclusion and cohesion.

Pray tell me sir, how do separate and impenetrable courts and schools and extreme female segregation promote commonalities and deep bonds between citizens of these small isles?
---

He passes round what he believes to be the benign libation of tolerance. It is laced with arsenic.

He would not want his own girls and women, I am sure, to "choose" to be governed by these laws he breezily endorses. And he is naive to the point of folly if he imagines it is possible to pick and choose the bits that are relatively nice to the girls or ones that seem to dictate honourable financial transactions.

Look around the Islamic world where sharia rules and, in every single country, these ordinances reduce our human value to less than half that is accorded a male; homosexuals are imprisoned or killed, children have no free voice or autonomy, authoritarianism rules and infantilises populations.

On the heels of her statement comes this one from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Britain.  Up to 17,000 women in Britain are being subjected to 'honour' related violence, including murder each year.

the number of girls falling victim to forced marriages, kidnappings, sexual assaults, beatings and even murder by relatives intent on upholding the "honour" of their family is up to 35 times higher than official figures suggest.
---
Commander Steve Allen, head of ACPO's honour-based violence unit, says the true toll of people falling victim to brutal ancient customs is "massively unreported" and far worse than is traditionally accepted.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:27 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2008

A terrorist leader explains sharia

They really do believe they will establish a world wide caliphate.

From Schmoozing with Terrorists.

A deputy commander of Fatah's al Aqsa Martyrs Bridade, Nasser Abu Azziz, explained to Klein that when sharia law is imposed in Western countries, "these sick people [homosexuals] will be treated in a very tough way," explaining that the Islamic leadership will "prevent social and physical diseases like homosexuality."  All the terrorists whom Klein interviewed agreed that homosexuality would not be tolerated in the US once Islam rules.

And homosexuality is not all they condemn.  The failure of western women to conform to Islamic standards of dress will reap harsh responses including, if necessary, torture.  Sheik Hamad, a Hamas cleric, said those women who refuse to cover themselves in conformity with Islamic values would be punished either by imprisonment, whipping or stoning.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink

"I would be killed"

Say what you will about the Archbishop of Canterbury's idiotic comment that sharia law seems unavoidable in Britain, he finally got some people to stand up and support the institutions of their own country.

Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, said,
"There can be no exceptions to the laws of our land which have been so painfully honed by the struggle for democracy and human rights."

Writing in this newspaper, Lord Carey condemns multiculturalism as "disastrous", blames it for creating Islamic ghettos and says that Dr Williams's support for sharia law will "inevitably lead to further demands from the Muslim community"

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said
the Government's promotion of multiculturalism had destroyed the unity that used to hold society together.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the shadow minister for community cohesion, said
setting up rival systems of law would alienate sections of society and may lead to legal apartheid. 

Ruth Gledhill in the Times Online wrote
A few weeks ago, I was chatting to a woman who works in an advocacy role for Muslim women in an area that, quite independently of the Bishop of Rochester, she described as a 'no-go area' for non-Muslims. Her clients were women in the process of being sectioned into mental health units in the NHS. This woman, who for obvious reasons begged not to be identified, told me: 'The men get tired of their wives. Or bored. Or maybe the wife objects to her daughter being forced into a marriage she doesn't want. Or maybe she starts wearing western clothes. There can be many reasons. The women are sent for assessment to a hospital. The GP referring them is Muslim. The psychiatrist assessing them is Muslim and male. I have sat in these assessments where the psychiatrist will not look the woman patient in the eye because she is a woman. Can you imagine! A psychiatrist refusing to look his patient in the eye? The woman speaks little or no English. She is sectioned. She is divorced. There are lots of these women in there, locked up in these hospitals. Why don't you people write about this?'

My interlocuter went very red and almost started to cry. Instead, she began shouting at me. I was a member of the press. 'You must write about this,' she begged.

'I can't,' I said. 'Not unless you become a whistle-blower. Or give me some evidence. Or something.'

She shook her head. 'I can't be identified,' she said.
'I would be killed. And so would the women.'

The London Telegraph editorialized
In his effort to find an accommodation with other religions, in particular Islam, Dr Williams appears to be willing to give up on values which define his own. In fact, it is hard to understand why the leader of the Church of England should be so willing to "accommodate" the values of sharia law at all. Sharia law is abhorrent not just to most Christians, but to anyone who is committed to human rights - a group that includes many Muslims. In the countries where it operates, sharia law is brutal, cruel, discriminatory, and viciously oppressive of women, whose testimony is worth only half that of a man, and who are disadvantaged, relative to men, in marriage law, in disputes on the custody of children in divorce cases, and in inheritance law.

Still, there's a long way to go.  Let's not forget that Her Majesty's government has renamed Islamic terrorism as "anti -Islamic activity" so as to avoid inflaming Muslims.

To which Mark Steyn replied
Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days ago. "There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief," she told her audience. "Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic."

Well, yes, one sort of sees what she means. Killing thousands of people in Manhattan skyscrapers in the name of Islam does, among a certain narrow-minded type of person, give Islam a bad name, and thus could be said to be "anti-Islamic" — in the same way that the Luftwaffe raining down death and destruction on Londoners during the Blitz was an "anti-German activity." But I don't recall even Neville Chamberlain explaining, as if to a five-year old, that there is nothing German about the wish to terrorize and invade, and that this is entirely at odds with the core German values of sitting around eating huge sausages in beer gardens while wearing lederhosen.

The Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman personally supports barring white candidates from running for office in certain constituencies so that more black and Asian (meaning Muslim) MPs can be elected.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2008

Britons losing their grip on reality

Quarter of Brits think Churchill was myth while a majority think Sherlock Holmes was real.

What are they teaching them in school.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

Soft Sharia

Another chilling warning from Bruce Bawer who writes from Oslo First They Came for the Gays.

Once an oasis of tolerance, Europe is slowly but surely succumbing to Islamization.
---
It’s very clear what’s going on here – and where it’s all headed. Europe is on its way down the road of Islamization, and it’s reached a point along that road at which gay people’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is being directly challenged, both by knife-wielding bullies on the street and by taxpayer-funded thugs whose organizations already enjoy quasi-governmental authority. Sharia law may still be an alien concept to some Westerners, but it’s staring gay Europeans right in the face – and pointing toward a chilling future for all free people. Pim Fortuyn saw all this coming years ago; most of today’s European leaders still refuse to see it even though it’s right before their eyes.

The soft sharia is spreading.

Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, if you are the polygamous sort with multiple wives, you can apply for and get multiple benefits.  A Muslim man with four spouses could receive 10,000 pounds a year in income support alone.

  Muslim Women England

Meanwhile a study in Britain says that whole communities are involved in assisting and covering up honor killings with informal networks of taxi drivers, councillors and even police officers tracking down and returning who try to escape.

Women have been raped, abused and even killed for forming "inappropriate" relationships or merely for wanting to go to university.
---
The report found that...women may be attacked for nothing more than listening to western music ..... Local  authorities are not acting because of "political correctness" and a fear of being accused of racism.

Many Muslim women training to become doctors are refusing to comply with hygiene rules to stop the spread of deadly superbugs by  rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands before entering surgery because they say it is against their religion to be bare below their elbow. 

Born in Pakistan, the Bishop of Rochester warned of 'no'go' areas where people of a different race or faith face physical attack said
attempts are being made to give Britain an increasingly Islamic character by introducing the call to prayer and wider use of sharia law, a legal system based on the Koran.

The bishop was warned that he would not "live long" and would be "sorted out" if he continued to criticise Islam.

"The irony is that I had similar threats when I was a bishop in Pakistan, but I never thought I would have them here,"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2008

"Behind their shield the world economy literally lives"

When the global economy depends on communication and more and more the Internet,  When  news that damaged undersea cables disrupt businesses and personal use across a vast swath of Mideast countries, we begin to see how much the global economy depends on the Internet.

The biggest impact comes from the outages across India, with the companies that serve the East Coast of the United States and Britain badly hit.

Submarine cables carry the bulk of international telecommunications traffic.  These cables can be damaged by earthquake, accident or terrorism.   

Who protects and repairs the networks of underwater cables and  communication satellites?  The Belmont Club writes

unheralded and unnoticed the USN and USAF maintain the "freedom of navigation" not only of the ocean waves but of the ether. It is behind their shield that the world economy literally lives. The cars people drive, the fuel that propels them, the food they eat, the conversations they have, the television signals they receive, all travel the broad highways of sea and sky that men unsung defend.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 AM | Permalink

December 13, 2007

Basta! Basta! says Beppe Grillo

Italy is in a funk, a malaise, a bad humor.  A country that fascinates and infuriates Italians and tourists alike, a country that claims to have mastered the art of living has the least happy people in Western Europe.

In a Funk, Italy Sings an Aria of Disappointment.

“It’s a country that has lost a little of its will for the future,” said Walter Veltroni, the mayor of Rome and a possible future center-left prime minister. “There is more fear than hope.”

The first  populist movement in decades is growing, led by a stand-up comic Beppe Grillo who's  become a blogger with the tenth most-inked blog in the world.