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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cartoon Nonsense- It Gets More Laughable

1. Bareknucklespolitics.com cites this Reuters article reporting about a Muhammed cartoon where he holds his face in his hands are cries “It’s hard to be loved by fools”.

2. The Toronto Star reports that the Danish newspaper in question, apparently following the defunct Fairness Doctrine or modern day moral equivalence, will be publishing those Holocaust denial cartoons that are being created in Iran.

Now, do we understand how Muslim anger at Danes results in disparaging the Holocaust or Jews? I guess you need to refer to point one above for the answer. However, not all of them are fools. As Ann Coulter points out:

Largely unnoticed in this spectacle is the blinding fact that one nation is missing from the long list of Muslim countries (by which I mean France and England) with hundreds of crazy Muslims experiencing bipolar rage over some cartoons: Iraq. Hey -- maybe this democracy thing does work! The barbaric behavior of Europe's Muslims suggests that the European welfare state may not be attracting your top-notch Muslims.

This religion of peace, I think that is what Bush calls it, has a strange way of proving it.

Free Expression Rights Develop Non-violent Debating Skills

French writer Bernard-Henri Levy in the WSJ explains that the violent Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoons is a result of calculation among the evil triangle of Syria, Iran and Hamas. It is clearly calculated given the 4 month delay from publication to exposure among the Muslims, the miniscule circulation of the little-known newspaper and the political gains to be made by fomenting such demonstrations by his suspects.

He writes:

And, faced with this triangulation in progress, faced with this formidable hate-and-death machine, faced with this "moral atomic bomb," we have no other solution than to counter with another triangle--a triangle of life and reason, which more than ever must unite the United States, Europe and Israel in a rejection of any clash of civilizations of the kind desired by the extremists of the Arab-Muslim world and by them alone.

Levy calls for affirmation of the principle of free expression (no matter how idiotic it may be) and public support for moderate Muslims who recognize this reaction is exaggerated and against all Islamic principles. No question I favor both suggestions but as to the latter, where are these moderates? Even as moderates, do they not agree with the radicals in the extermination of Israel?

A liberal writer in Britain, Anatole Kaletsky describes the hate mail he just received from "right-wing" Americans after he recently bashed George Bush in a column. Kaletsky points out that the offended Americans wrote harsh letters but they did not contain any threats of physical harm. In the European environment of making certain expressions a crime, the Euro improvement on our "hate crime" laws, Kaletsky explains how the American First Amendment leads to stronger philosophies through rational debate:

[The] most important distinction that Americans seem to understand much better than we in Europe. This is the distinction between religion and other beliefs. Why should religions be entitled to legal protection from “insults” and “attacks”? Would anyone suggest that communists and fascists or, for that matter, Tories and social democrats, should be protected from insults? Yet the first two of these movements were all-embracing secular religions and their believers, who numbered in the hundreds of millions, believed in them every bit as passionately as Christians, Jews and Muslims believe in their religions.

Far from commanding any special respect or protection from the State, religions must be exposed to relentless criticism, like all non-rational traditions and beliefs. Some religions will survive this contest between tradition and modernity, between reason and revelation, as Christianity, Judaism and Islam have done for centuries. Others, such as Marxism and Scientology, will fall by the wayside.

In America, the Constitution, with its prohibition against the establishment of any state religion and its absolute defence of free speech, demands a robust competition between faith and reason and among the religions themselves. And in the end, as America’s surprising piety clearly shows, it is not just society but also religion that emerges stronger from the refiner’s fire of competition, criticism and even insult.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Rights 101: I Cannot Take What Is Yours, So Government Cannot As Well

Sometimes the basics need repeating. In these times of judicial nominations and wiretaps, our discussions about the protection of civil rights lose sight of what are rights. Today, Walter Williams provides us a discourse on Human Rights 101. The key part about what government can do, and we have a Constitution of enumerated powers such that government can only do what it is explicitly allowed by the citizens to do, cannot impinge on our rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

Citing Locke, Williams writes:

Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don't have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government.

Therefore, any supposed rights to materials and services that are claimed owed citizens that come at the forced removal of property of other citizens is not allowed. In other words, taxes cannot be used to render benefits to special citizens because no matter how great a majority of Americans support such "ear-marked" taxes, my personal refusal to submit is enough to protect my inherent right.

Going back to Williams:

[A] right is something that exists simultaneously among people and imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech, or freedom to travel, is something we all simultaneously possess. My right to free speech or freedom to travel imposes no obligation upon another except that of non-interference. In other words, my exercising my right to speech or travel requires absolutely nothing from you and in no way diminishes any of your rights.

That sounds so liberating. So free. Doesn't it? But people have been lemmings for so long that they have forgotten what the Constitutional ideals really are. With SCOTUS openings being filled and likely to be filled again (Stevens is apparently the next one due to his age), the public should become acquainted with their rights and the scope of our compact in self-government.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm Sorry...I Didn't Think You Were Such A Schmuck

Senator McCain wrote a letter complimentary in tone but blistering in message to Senator Obama recently. McCain felt betrayed by Obama's partisan politicking of the Congressional lobbying reform issue after Obama had promised to work with McCain towards a bipartisan solution. Snippets from McCain's published letter are:

Dear Senator Obama:

I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again...

We view this as an opportunity to bring transparency and accountability to the Congress, and, most importantly, to show the public that both parties will work together to address our failings.

As I noted, I initially believed you shared that goal. But I understand how important the opportunity to lead your party’s effort to exploit this issue must seem to a freshman Senator, and I hold no hard feelings over your earlier disingenuousness. Again, I have been around long enough to appreciate that in politics the public interest isn’t always a priority for every one of us.

Good luck to you, Senator.

I think the young senator has created an enemy. Bad move.

Everyone Does Not Love Capitalism

Who thinks capitalism is the best thing going? Per a poll of 20 countries (cribbing the quote from EUROTA):

The University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes has published the findings of a poll of 20 countries which shows that 61% of people in those countries agree with the statement "the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world." 28% disagreed.The highest level of support was from China (74%) followed by the Philippines (73%), the US (71%), and India (70%).Only 36% of French agree with the proposition while 50% disagree.

How many of that 29% in America were Democrats? More scary is how many were Republicans?

For all polled (and not just Americans) sixty-four per cent of those with higher education believe in free enterprise. For those with low education the figure falls to 56%.

I still do not know the answer to my questions.

Monday, February 06, 2006

How Dare You Call Us Extremist! We'll Kill You!

The BBC reports demonstrations by Muslims in various locations all over the world in response to the Danish cartoons that portrayed Muslims terrorists as fanatic.

Per the BBC report, besides the demonstrators protesting Denmark, they are also threatening France. The BBC quotes one demonstrator:

"They want to test our feelings," protester Mawli Abdul Qahar Abu Israra told the BBC. "They want to know whether Muslims are extremists or not. Death to them and to their newspapers," he said.

I guess that explains everything.

Cartoon Character

William Buckley questions the power of the Muslim community to force editors around the world to fire cartoonists who produced "offensive" depictions of Muhammad. While more "offensive" depictions of Christ or Judaism have gone unpunished (though criticized) in the past, the journalism power-brokers are handling Islamic responses with censorious kid gloves.

Buckley's answer is:

What we have seen is an intimation of the strength of a mobilized Muslim community. And this is early on, in the great narrative of the growth of Muslim power in Europe, where national suicide is reflected in the birth rates of Italian, German, French and British non-Muslims (to call them Christians would be wholesale co-optation). These societies seem to be willing themselves to go out of existence, as the birth rate falls below the replacement rate.

Reminds me of Mark Steyn's column a few weeks back about the Euro demographics. BTW, Steyn comments on the week-kneed Western response to Islamic offense:

Very few societies are genuinely multicultural. Most are bicultural: On the one hand, there are folks who are black, white, gay, straight, pre-op transsexual, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, worshippers of global-warming doom-mongers, and they rub along as best they can. And on the other hand are folks who do not accept the give-and-take, the rough-and-tumble of a "diverse" "tolerant" society, and, when one gently raises the matter of their intolerance, they threaten to kill you, which makes the question somewhat moot.

One day the British foreign secretary will wake up and discover that, in practice, there's very little difference between living under Exquisitely Refined Multicultural Sensitivity and Sharia. As a famously sensitive Dane once put it, "To be or not to be, that is the question."

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