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The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Monument at Brandeis

[The Death Throes of Western Civilization, Part 98]

By now, most of you (unless you get your news from PBS or CBS, who seem to have missed it) will have heard of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the courageous battler for women’s rights who was “disinvited” by ultra-liberal Brandeis University as its 2014 commencement speaker.

Her story is an amazing story of courage in the face of oppression, brutality, murder, cowardice and hypocrisy.  Brandeis’ shunning of her in deference to Islamist pressure is the most shameful chapter in the history of this Jewish institution founded as a place of post-Holocaust tolerance.

After fleeing her Somali homeland for refuge in Holland, she became a feminist leader and was elected to the Dutch parliament. She wrote the script for a movie critical of Islamic repression of women (Submission); the filmmaker (Theo Van Gogh) was brutally murdered by an Islamist assassin, and a note threatening Ali was pinned to the dead man’s chest – with a knife. You can read the note here. (Scroll down for the English translation, which begins “Open letter to Hirshi Ali: In the name of Allah – the Beneficent – the Merciful…”.  I guess it really IS a religion of peace!)

The Dutch government – of which she was a member –  encouraged her to resign from parliament and to flee to the US. The late Christopher Hitchens wrote about her here.

She is a black woman, a battling feminist, and an atheist. You would think she would be the toast of Brandeis.  But Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence explained that some of her statements about Islamic treatment of women were “inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” (Past honorees and speakers include retired terrorist Bill Ayers and Israel-hater Tony Kushner.)

So know we know what Brandeis’ “core values” consist of: “Speak no evil of Islam.” Is this from pro-Islamism, or from sheer cowardice in the face of Islamist violence?  Does it really matter which?

Here, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, is the speech that she would have delivered to the Brandeis commencement, if she had not been silenced by the Islamist/PC thought police.  You ought to read it. School children ought to be reciting it (if such things were still done in schools).

In fact…

A Proposal: On a location as close as possible to the Brandeis campus (perhaps within sight of the Brandeis/Roberts MBTA station on South Street in Waltham, Mass.), a monument should be erected to this great, brave lady.  On the base, her speech should be inscribed in full.  Along with that statement about Brandeis’ “core values”.

If somebody is already working on it, I will contribute my retiree’s mite.  And I’ll serve on the fund-raising committee.

 

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“Blind, pitiless indifference”

[My friend Ben Finiti’s latest bit of soul-searching. Read more of this sort of thing at benfiniti.com.]

As I have written below, I have spent many years trying to find God.  I have found much Judeo-Christian theology coherent, consistent with reality, and therefore highly plausible.

But I still cannot convince myself that the other coherent, consistent worldview, atheistic materialism, is not also plausible.

Many authors have helped me along; I will list and discuss them sometime.  But nothing so far has been quite so compelling as this quote from atheist guru Richard Dawkins:

“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”

This chilling statement, offered in support of Dawkins’ atheism, is from his book Rivers of Eden, which I found quoted in Francis Collins’ The Language of God.  (I recommend Collins’ book highly.  He was the director of the Human Genome Project as well as a Christian.)

I expect to be contemplating this for a long time.

Anti-Israel Lies Effectively Refuted…Again!

The Helena (Montana) Independent Record published a viciously anti-Israel op-ed on Monday, August 19, by a “writer” from San Diego named Steve Kowit.  Entitled “Israel no beacon of democracy diversity,” it retailed the usual lies and libels:  Israel treats the poor harmless Palestinians so cruelly, they are just like the Nazis.  If you need to read more of this stuff, here it is.

Fortunately, our friend David Smith responded immediately, and the IR (that’s the local’s name for the paper) printed it at once, this Wednesday.  His rebuttal, “More lies published about Israel,” can be read here.

I wish every two-bit purveyor of the New Protocols of the Elders of Zion received such quick and forceful refutation.

 

Theodore Dalrymple and the Real Threat

Yesterday I mentioned Victor Davis Hanson as a historian whose commentary on the collapse of the West is worth following.

Today I direct your attention to another Cassandra, Theodore Dalrymple.  He is a doctor (real name Anthony Daniels) of long practice among the lowest classes in England.  Unlike leftist  intellectuals  whose experience of the downtrodden tends to be academic and therefore comfortably remote, Dalrymple has spent his life in close contact with them.  His books are filled with disturbing (if humorous) stories of his patients and the dying society in which they live and move and have their being.  His books Life At The Bottom; The Worldview That Makes The Underclass  and Our Culture, What’s Left Of It; The Mandarins And The Masses:  are excellent (if often frustrating and infuriating and saddening) reads.

He is a regular columnist for the City Journal, a magazine worth checking online from time to time.  Today’s essay is entitled “Thoughts on Woolwich” (the town where two young Muslim-convert Britons from Nigeria brutally murdered and decapitated a British soldier, then pontificated about it to the witnesses recording it all on their cellphones.

Dalrymple concludes with the following:
“What these cases show is that it is not Islam that makes young converts violent; it is the violence within them that causes them to convert to Islam. The religion, in its most bloodthirsty form, supplies all their psychological needs and channels their anger into a supposedly higher purpose. It gives them moral license to act upon their rage; for, like many in our society, they do not realize that anger is not self-justifying, that one is not necessarily right because one is angry, and that in any case even justified anger does not entail a license to act violently. The hacking to death of Lee Rigby on a street in Woolwich tells us as much about the society that we have created, or allowed to develop, as it does about radical Islam preached by fat, middle-aged clerics.”
True, and a reality worth facing.  Militant Islamic Jihad is not a threat because it is so persuasive; it threatens us because it so conveniently justifies and ennobles our worst inclinations.

“Mother’s” Day Must Go

[Here comes “Parent # 1 Day”!]

It is time to put an end to this outrage.  “Mother’s” Day is an abhorrent, anachronistic vestige of heterosexist oppression.  In barely concealed homophobic code, it implies that children need and/or benefit from having mothers, and that motherhood is something other than an outdated social construct.

Sure, motherhood may have been revered in the Dark Ages.  But as Enlightenment has spread across the land in recent years, social scientists and learned judges have patiently explained to us that “mothers” are now quite redundant.

Wise judges such as Vaughn Walker, ruling that the voters of California have no right to decide so important a question, wrote:

“The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in a child’s adjustment… The research supporting this conclusion is accepted beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology…Children do not need to be raised by a male parent and a female parent to be well-adjusted, and having both a male and a female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted.”

See?  It is “accepted beyond serious debate”.  As Al Gore likes to say, the debate is over, we know all we need to know.

The judge did admit that things were different in the Dark Ages: “When California became a state in 1850, marriage was understood to require a husband and a wife.”  But, as they say in California, that was then and this is now.

The Iowa Supreme Court was equally patient in dismissing the folly of mother-fixation.

“The research appears to strongly support the conclusion that same-sex couples foster the same wholesome environment as opposite-sex couples and suggests that the traditional notion that children need a mother and father to be raised into healthy, well-adjusted adults is based more on stereotype than anything else.

There you have it.  This whole motherhood thing is just a stereotype.

(On retiring soon after this ruling on Prop 8, Judge Walker said ““I have done my part.”  Indeed he has.)

And think of the emotional pain inflicted.  Every “M-word” Day is a gross offense to the self-esteem of gay male couples who are thinking about raising children.

It reminds one of a heart-breaking episode from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.  Stan, a young rebel with gender issues, announces that he wants to have a baby:

Stan (also known as Loretta): It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.

Reg:  But you can’t have babies.

Stan:  Don’t you oppress me.

Reg: Where’s the fetus going to gestate? You going to keep it in a box?

Well, Reg, modern science has finally come up with effective gestation boxes, so Stan’s dream (actually Loretta’s dream) can now come true. And the courts have said that gay adoption is OK, because all that a child needs is “parents”.

So we can leave this motherhood fetish back in ancient Judea where it belongs.

The obvious thing to do is to rename the holiday.  Federal and state governments are quickly replacing the anachronistic “Mother” and “Father” lines on government forms and birth certificates with the more sensitive “Parent #1” and “Parent #2”.

The calendar can and should do the same thing.  May 12 is Parent #1 Day, with Parent #2 to be celebrated later.  (Don’t get me started on the whole “Fatherhood” outrage.  That can wait until P2 Day.)

Reminder: Did you call your Parent #1 today?

Bubbles: 30 Rock and Obama

I have just watched the entire 7 seasons of 30 Rock on Netflix.  It has confirmed my opinion that 30 Rock was the best TV comedy in a generation (or two).

One of the most surprising thing about the show, given its genealogy, was its general absence of ideological humor.  The once-funny Saturday Night Live year after year found Republicans humorously evil and/or stupid, while Democrats where consistently smart and sexy.  But 30 Rock was pretty fair and balanced in skewering its characters’ political foibles.  Jack Donaghy’s stereotypical capitalist, starve-the-poor conservative faced off with Liz Lemon’s artsy, compassionate but uncontributing liberal.

In one episode, when a liberal Vermont Congresswoman is on a tryst with Jack, Congress legalizes whale torture for sport.  Great stuff. That there’s funny, I don’t care who you are. (Larry the Cable Guy)

In Season 3 episode 15, Liz Lemon (show creator Tina Fey) has a new boyfriend Drew (played by Jon Hamm, Mad Men’s handsome Don Draper). She discovers that people give him preferential treatment because he is so attractive.

Liz’ boss and mentor Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) explains it to her.  “Beautiful people are treated differently from…(looking at her)…moderately pleasant-looking people.  They live in a Bubble.”

Liz marvels, “He’s a doctor who doesn’t know the Heimlich maneuver. He can’t play tennis.  He can’t cook.  He’s as bad at sex as I am. But he has no idea.”

Jack: “That’s the danger of being super-handsome.  When you’re in the Bubble, no one tells you the truth.  For years I thought I spoke excellent French…”

The portrayal is delightful.  Drew is a clumsy klutz on the tennis court, but ladies ask him if he gives lessons. At crowded restaurants he never waits for a table and normally surly waitresses fall over themselves to please him.  Police tear up parking tickets after one look at him.

Finally, Liz confronts Drew. “You live in a Bubble, where people do what you want and tell you what you want to hear.”  She tries reality-shock therapy on him, and he doesn’t like it.  Liz beats him at tennis, and he complains that “You made me feel like a loser.”

“That’s because you lost.”

As the show ends, Drew decides reality is no fun. “I didn’t like it outside the Bubble, Liz.  It was very ironic.”

“No,” she corrects, “it wasn’t.  That’s not how you use that word.”

“Stop it.  I want to use ironic however I want.  I want to stay in the Bubble.”

Well, who wouldn’t?

IN OTHER NEWS…

At the White House Easter Egg Roll, President Obama was able to sink only 2 out of 22 shots on a basketball court.  (No stories mentioned why basketball was featured as an Easter activity.)

The media reported with great bemusement and surprise at discovering something “The One” was not good at.

If you review the career of Barack Obama, you will find…Drew.  He was ushered into political seats ahead of others who had been waiting a long time, and he took it as his due.  His legislative service was undistinguished, but he was unsurprised when people kept asking him to accept higher office.

He has lived in a media Bubble, where people report what he wants and tell him what he wants to hear.

I wonder if he thinks he speaks French.  He probably thought he was good at basketball.  He probably still does.

And I wonder if anyone working on that episode realized how accurately they were describing the Obama Bubble.  I’d like to think they did.

What Can History Teach About War?

An outstanding essay by Victor Davis Hanson is currently up on PJ Media here and here.  It is a two-part (so far) study of the history of wars, and the interplay of Greek tragedy – victory leading to hubris and overreaching and failure.  Part 1 analyzes WWII and Korea, while the second looks at the Peloponnesian War, and draws conclusions to describe our present situation.

It is outstanding, and you ought to read the whole thing.  But here is the conclusion. Continue reading ‘What Can History Teach About War?’


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