Friday, September 29, 2006

A quickie about Christian Enablers

Yesterday's post dealt with the very appropriate comments from the Vatican's foreign minister to the U.N.

Moderate Muslims must loudly and consistently condemn the trashing of their religion by extremists.

So, too, though, must the Vatican and, say, the Archbishop of Canterbury condemn, in clear terms, the sectarian strife which inflicts "Christian" countries. For example, both the Pope and the Archbishop should condemn, in no uncertain terms, the Catholic-Protestant "troubles" in Northern Ireland. Name Paisley specifically, Arch; by name condemn Sinn Fein, Da B-16.

If you don't, then you're equally as culpable of enabling terrorists who are acting in the name of your religion as those Muslims who do not loudly condemn the murderous practices of their fellow congregants.

Peace everywhere, but no peace for religious war mongers.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Da B-16 Is Getting Something Correct

A Vatican spokesperson at the U.N. had these words: It falls to all interested parties - to civil society as well as to states - to promote religious freedom and a sane, social tolerance that will disarm extremists even before they can begin to corrupt others with their hatred of life and liberty.

Truer words seldom spoken. Now that Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican's foreign minister, has put these words out for all to hear and see, it is time for moderate Muslims to rise to the challenge. They must "promote religious freedom and a sane, social tolerance" by condemning the actions of the Islamist extremists, and by emphasizing the metaphorical elements of the Koranic verses. Just as the pearly gates are metaphors designed to appeal to peasants in the Dark Ages, so are the after-life promises of the Koran metaphors designed for a specific people at a specific time in history.

The truth will disarm the terrorists more completely than any other weapon. It is the responsibility of moderate Muslims to brandish the truths about their holy writings.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Appeasement by any other name?

Remember David Frum, of the "axis of evil" fame (his wife, it is told, gives him credit with coming up with the phrase)? Well, he seems to have had a bit of a conversion since the heady days of 2002 as a speechwriter for 43.

Today he takes on Mr. Bush's speech to the U.N., and makes note of the facts of Mr. Bush's stances on the Iranian nuclear weapon issue. In brief, Frum doesn't think much of the president's speech nor his position on Iran. He says as much in a piece available here.

My favorite part is his final comment: America's dwindling list of Iran options has dwindled further to just two: unilateral military action without any semblance of international approval to pre-empt the Iranian bomb program - or acquiescence in that program.
And I'm guessing that the option to emerge will be: acquiescence.

Now, tell me, what, exactly is the difference between acquiescence and appeasement, which is the favorite noun du jour of the Republicans these days as they try to tag Democrats.

It's amusing to see erstwhile supporters of the neo-cons gamely try to salvage some dignity.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Biology, Brooks, and Sex (Oh, My!)

Somewhere there exists a "free" copy of David Brooks' piece printed 9/17/06. (It's a Times Select article, available with on-line subscription.)

"Is Chemistry Destiny?" is a fascinating read. In it Brooks explores a book by Louann Brizendine The Female Brain. In it, Brizendine delineates various stages of life in the female brain as well as the level of certain chemicals at those stages. Briefly, a case is made that brain chemistry might very well be destiny.

As usual, one might find a quibble with Mr. Brooks' thinking lodged where he goes a bit too far in his opining. Today it's what he doesn't explicitly say at the end of this quote: This new understanding both validates ancient stereotypes about the sexes, and fuzzes up moral judgments about human responsibility (biology inclines individuals toward certain virtues and vices).

Yes, but remember, oh faithful reader(s?), virtues and vices are both subjective, while the level of brain chemicals is beyond the power of the individual. That is a significant point in the discussion of behavior.

Is your virtue my vice? If so, on what legitimate basis? And what makes it not my legitimate virtue instead of your legitimate vice?

Have fun.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Benedict Deserves Support

In his call for the modernization, or at least the clarification (to use W's favorite word these days) of Islamic conversion principles, Benedict XVI has hit upon a necessary topic for the immediate future: Islamic modernization. Islamists should keep what is universally good and rid their religion of what was specific to the context of the time of Mohammed.

Communal aspects of religion are valuable, writings which can be interpreted by thugs to justify unspeakable treatment of others are not valuable.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Um...Get a Grip?

The Sierra Club is unhappy about including Hummer toys in fast food orders.

At the risk of sounding like a pooh-pooher, one is tempted to suggest the eminent organization get a grip on reality. Toys do not a purchaser make. Besides, by the time tots and kids are old enough to plunk down a fistful of sheckels for a Hummer, they'll be old enough and smart enough, by then, and beyond the wisdom of their forefathers, not to buy one of those gas guzzlers.

Not every kid will grow up to suffer from Hummer-envy.

The Sierra Club does important work. This should fall way down on their priorities list.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Here's a link to a blog which contains a wonderful phrase: White House Whore du Jour.

Wish I'd thought of that one.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SF Muslim Americans

The News Hour on September 4 aired a segment entitled "Muslim Americans in San Francisco Reflect on Impact of 9/11." In this segment there were two views reflected, both of which need some comment.

First, several of the congregants seemed defensive about being tainted with an association with terrorists who are acting out their thuggery using the Koran as justification. While their consternation is certainly understandable, they are well integrated into the American system, they seem not to be willing to address the problem of the Koranic sutra which allow interpretations which the jihadi claim.

These San Franciscans do not address the fact that the Koran was developed as an alternative to the very harsh social conditions in the Middle East during the time of the Prophet Mohammed. Just as with fundamentalist Jews and Christians, the early writings of monotheists are filled with acts of violence which were "sanctioned," if not demanded by the deity in order to achieve, at some human cost, social stability. Of course, those sanctions and demands were filtered through human beings and human perceptions about the needs and wants of the deity.

The congregants do not seem to be willing to address the need to cull the Koran of the political necessities of the 7th century in the Middle East. Until they do, they will continue to feel the caution and possible distrust of their San Francisco neighbors.

Second, an imam in the segment freely admits to making anti-American statements in weekly speeches in his mosque. He almost cheerily passes his past behavior off because he is now more "mature." The implication is that he doesn't say those things any more. What he did not do in the segment is make note of any steps he takes today to withdraw those sentiments, nor does he take any steps to deny the validity of any such statements being made by other speakers today.

The other two monotheistic religions have very strong progressive sects, and the fundamentalists have pretty well been marginalized. No such progressiveism is observable in Islan as of yet. Until there is, there will be more bloodshed.

It's time for the San Francisco Muslims to take action. It's time for them to strip the terrorists, who are using Islam for their butchery, of their philosophical basis.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Brooks Gets It Right...

...but he's still fudging. David Brooks, writing in the New York Times, discusses cultural differences (sorry, you'll need registration to read it in the Times), and he makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, he doesn't go far enough in his discussion of America's problems facing these differences.

The Islamic extremists pose a serious problem for the entire world, and so far our response to that danger has been, um, ineffective.

What to do? How about something like this, a response to David:

This (The hard lesson of the last five years — that we live in a jagged world filled with starkly different and contesting groups — makes democracy promotion more difficult but more necessary) is an excellent ending to your column today.

Now, while you are correct with the idea behind "And yet I can’t seem to renounce my own group, which is America," there is a slight fault with the syntax you chose--no one is suggesting you renounce America. The suggestion is that you stop enabling the current administration with your half-hearted defenses of its policies.

Arrogance and heavy handedness have no place in diplomacy. Foolishly, the Republican Party in 2000 nominated a movie cowboy, for the second time, to the top job of the nation. It worked well enough the first time, but this time the challenges were more real than those of the 1980's. At that time, the Soviet Union was teetering on the brink of collapse, and Reagan's blusterings worked well enough. This time the threat has been more dire, younger, fueled by extremism and a religion of "honor." And our "group's" blusterings are exposed as the cinematic ephemera they have always been in the reign of the cinematic.

Our part in the culture struggle must be informed by the realities of other cultures, not by our mythological assurances that the cowboy shoot-em-up wins the day.

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