Category ►►► Cultures and Contortions

July 19, 2012

Lancing a Boyle

Cultures and Contortions
Hatched by Korso

In yet the latest example of Western self-flagellation, it seems that cinema auteur Danny Boyle -- the man who has a strange fascination with dipping his actors in excrement, as he so graphically showed us in his films Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting -- wants to toss his native Great Britain down the loo as well, on no less of a stage than the London Olympics:

The July 27 ceremony, conceived by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, will pay careful attention to Britain’s shame, with tableaux devoted to the denial of voting rights to women, Industrial Revolution pollution, the Great Depression and exploitation of the workers.

Instead of celebrating Nelson and Wellington, the show will feature scary soldiers “erupting” out of the ground like lava. A centerpiece will be a reenactment of a 200-mile 1936 workers’ march from the North to London to protest living conditions.

Yeah, that's pretty much the stuff that comes to my mind when I think of jolly old England. Perhaps Boyle and former London mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone can join forces to promote tourism after the games are over.

I wish I could say that this is shocking, but it isn't. Leftists have shown a boundless hatred for Western values, both here in America and across the pond. It's like the "warts and all" approach to teaching history so de rigueur in American schools: Somehow they find time for the warts but none of the all.

You figure that a native of the nation that gave the world the Magna Carta, the first declaration of principles in history that proclaimed what the king cannot do to his subjects, would find at least one other thing to focus on in his Olympic extravaganza. Perhaps the British Navy's interdiction against the slave trade? Or her steadfast resistance to fascism? Or would that all be too ethnocentric?

I tell ya, people who don't have a love and respect for their own culture are doomed to lose it. More than that, they deserve to lose it. What's scary is the idea of what might be left after the West tumbles off the cliff of its own self-loathing. Considering that we've been the sole source of light in a darkening world, the reckoning will be a harsh one indeed.

Hatched by Korso on this day, July 19, 2012, at the time of 5:52 PM | Comments (1)

February 5, 2011

Multi-Culti Higgledy Piggledy - CORRECTION

Cultures and Contortions , Shrinking the Gap
Hatched by Dafydd

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, of the "Conservative" Party, gave a speech in Munich (that's in Germany) on February 5th (that's in Germany). The subject was radical Islamism and its interaction with the perverse and contra-civilizational Western heresy of "multiculturalism," the political policy of refusing to promote one's own core culture over foreign cultures. To quote the Wikipedia entry:

In a political context the term has come to mean the advocacy of extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central. Multiculturalism as "cultural mosaic" is often contrasted with the concepts assimilationism and social integration.

And unlike our own head of government, Barack H. Obama, Cameron forcefully articulated exactly what is wrong with that diabolical doctrine. In his speech, he indicts the West as accessory to its own annihilation:

What I am about to say is drawn from the British experience, but I believe there are general lessons for us all. In the UK , some young men find it hard to identify with the traditional Islam practiced at home by their parents, whose customs can seem staid when transplanted to modern Western countries. But these young men also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity. Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.

Cameron hits the finger on his head: In civilized, Western countries, the Islamist problem is not caused by discrimination against Moslems, or oppression by Christian culture, or that the wicked Jews are persecuting them again; those grievances are nearly always lies, delusions, and fantasies. And even when a molecule of truth may lurk behind an accusation, the grievance is invariably a symptom, not the underlying cause.

Rather, the underlying cause is that for the last few decades, we in-and-of the West have failed to demand assimilation by those who are in-but-not-of the West. We let them have their own enclaves, stagnant cultural backwaters that refuse to integrate with the majority culture surrounding them, flouting the laws and principles of free countries in favor of hyperbolically mimicking the worst aspects of sharia states, from forced marriages, to slavery, to sexual discrimination, to religious intolerance, to supposed "honor" killings:

So, when a white person holds objectionable views, racist views for instance, we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious frankly -- frankly, even fearful -- to stand up to them. The failure, for instance, of some to confront the horrors of forced marriage, the practice where some young girls are bullied and sometimes taken abroad to marry someone when they don’t want to, is a case in point. This hands-off tolerance has only served to reinforce the sense that not enough is shared. And this all leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless. And the search for something to belong to and something to believe in can lead them to this extremist ideology. Now for sure, they don’t turn into terrorists overnight, but what we see -- and what we see in so many European countries -- is a process of radicalisation.

In his Munich speech, Prime Minister Cameron outlines two dramatic policy changes, reverting from the insanity of the Labour Party's multi-culti kow-towing to radical Islamists back to what nearly everyone reading this blog would consider simple common sense:

So first, instead of ignoring this extremist ideology, we -- as governments and as societies -- have got to confront it, in all its forms. And second, instead of encouraging people to live apart, we need a clear sense of shared national identity that is open to everyone.

Let me briefly take each in turn. First, confronting and undermining this ideology. Whether they are violent in their means or not, we must make it impossible for the extremists to succeed. Now, for governments, there are some obvious ways we can do this. We must ban preachers of hate from coming to our countries. We must also proscribe organisations that incite terrorism against people at home and abroad. Governments must also be shrewder in dealing with those that, while not violent, are in some cases part of the problem. We need to think much harder about who it’s in the public interest to work with. Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism. As others have observed, this is like turning to a right-wing fascist party to fight a violent white supremacist movement. So we should properly judge these organisations: do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separation? These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations -- so, no public money, no sharing of platforms with ministers at home.

The climax of the speech pulls the whole together into a single paragraph, like a hologram; but one that I think my favorite blogger on my favorite blog somewhat misunderstood:

Now, second, we must build stronger societies and stronger identities at home. Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active, muscular liberalism. A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as a society: to belong here is to believe in these things. Now, each of us in our own countries, I believe, must be unambiguous and hard-nosed about this defence of our liberty.

I think it clear that when Cameron uses the word "liberalism," he means it in the sense of "liberal democracy"... not in the sense of liberalism vs. conservatism; he is, after all, the Prime Minister of the Conservative Party, not Labour; and even in Jolly Olde E., there is a distinction.

His littany of "genuinely liberal" values comprises rights and liberties that conservatives and independents embrace, but political-liberals often do not. As further proof, Cameron did not include any number of political-liberal shibboleths: the right to cradle-to-grave welfare, equality of outcomes for each person, the sanctity of public-employee unions, the sacrament of abortion, or the paradise of Britain's National Health Service.

Ergo, I take exception to the two conclusions John Hinderaker drew in his blogpost. First:

What is not clear to me is whether a post-Christian Great Britain has enough self-confidence to promote its own values; and also, whether the weak tea of contemporary liberalism, which has difficulty articulating ideals beyond the equal treatment of women and homosexuals, has enough appeal to counteract the attraction of radical Islam.

I have been skeptical for a long time of the claim that ordinary Britons actually believe the tripe swallowed by the bulk of Labour Party leaders -- and to be fair, a disturbingly large number of Tory leaders as well. Rather, the very structure of parliamentary democracy virtually guarantees that all parties will wind up controlled by liberals who live for the State.

How so? Because in parliamentary elections, voters typically can only choose between parties, not personalities. Candidates don't run for parliament as individuals but merely as labels: "Conservative," "Labour," "Liberal Democrat." Thus, parliamentary democracies almost never get a Ronald Reagan or a Margaret Thatcher -- or a Sarah Palin, a Michele Bachmann, or even a Barack Obama. They're generally stuck with John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and, well, David Cameron.

Correction: Commenter Robert from the UK offers an important correction to the previous paragraph:

In the UK, we do vote for individuals. The ballot cards have their names, with the parties in smaller letters afterwards, and there are MPs with actual personality, who can attract a personal vote on their own merits.

However, you are correct that the grey men dominate British politics, just not for that reason. Instead, you have to look at the way the cabinet and its shadows are drawn from Parliament. MPs can be cabinet members, so they direct their ambition that way, encouraging them to be lobby fodder; Senators can't be cabinet members, and there is no US shadow cabinet, so party discipline is much weaker.

I apologize for getting the mechanism of election wrong above; but as Robert notes, the basic point remains: Because party discipline is so intense in a parliamentary democracy, including Great Britain, mavericks rarely rise to cabinet level, let alone to become prime minister. So the rest of this post still follows with slight emendation.

Rarely does a politician rise to the top of either major party by being strongly ideological (Thatcher was sui generis); instead, it's the grey men, the men without chests, the men with flexible principles and rubber morals who connive and maneuver their way up the party ladder to be "appointed" PM.

By contrast, in the United States, which thank God is not a parliamentary democracy, we vote for individuals at nearly every level of election. When I look at my ballot, I don't see a slot that reads DEMOCRAT and another that reads REPUBLICAN; rather, I must choose between BARACK OBAMA (Democrat) and JOHN MCCAIN (Republican). Every candidate -- not just presidential but congressional, gubernatorial, legislative, and even judges -- runs as an individual person, who individually enunciates positions, principles, and policies; we judge him on those promises and on his moral and ethical character, to the best we can determine it. It's an intensely personal evaluation.

Sometimes he fools us, as we saw in 2008 with President B.O.; but when that happens, the sense of personal betrayal is so strong that voters respond... well, just as they responded last November. But in a parliamentary election, when the party ends up doing the exact opposite of what it proposed in order to gain a majority, it's awfully hard to pin down just whose fault it was. Voters have no idea whom to blame; and next election (whenever that is), they have exactly the same choice between exactly the same two or three parties saying exactly the same things they said last time.

Just because British voters have for decades been electing politicians who, here in America, would be considered to the left of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%), does not mean voters actually support all that liberal-weenie, multi-culti nitwittery. Or all that socialist claptrap, either. The electoral system they're saddled with simply has an awful lot more inertia than does ours, which can turn its coat on a dime... both an advantage and a disadvantage.

I suspect that the average Briton is just as appalled at the over-the-top welfarism, nanny-statism, the denigration of Western culture and religion as we, on this side the Atlantic. They simply don't have the ability to communicate that anger to their political leadership the way we can.

But in this case, the head of government himself appears to share that disgust with radical Islamists running virtual sharia states, bantustans, within Great Britain. Cameron may very well be able to do something about it.

Finally, I especially take exception to John's last conclusion:

The immediate reaction to Cameron's speech was not encouraging. It was denounced both by Labour Party spokesmen and by prominent Muslims.

Since when is it "discouraging" that a paean to traditional conservative values and assimilation instead of Balkanization is denounced by the very ideologies that desperately desire to overthrow and replace those values and Balkanize Britain? Rather, it would be discouraging indeed if a major policy change offered by the Conservatives were to be embraced by Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, and applauded in a fatwa from some radical Islamist imam in a British mosque!

After all, when Obama, Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) denounce the attorneys general for 26 states for rejecting the individual mandate provision of ObamaCare, well that was just "situation normal, nothing has changed."

But if that axis of evil would have joined the call to strip out the individual mandate, wouldn't we all have smelled a rat in the state of Denmark?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 5, 2011, at the time of 11:58 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 13, 2010

What If We Made Every Day "Burn a Koran Day"?

Cultures and Contortions , Democrazy Inaction , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I rib you not; what if, every day of every week of every month of every year, folks in the West held a good old, traditional Koran despoiling?

Suppose each of us ran out and bought 52 copies of the Koran (or al-Quran, if you prefer); then, joining in covens of seven, each of us picked a day of the week -- and burned one Koran each name day. That's a year's worth of poached prophet for each cabal!

  • Wednesday's child could burn the book.
  • The Friday desecrator could fling that week's copy into the sewer.
  • The Monday marauder could mangle the monstrosity in a meat masher.
  • The man who was Thursday could trample it underfoot with muddy boots.
  • Saturday's cross-tab could wrap it with strips of bacon, fry it up, and eat it, leaf by leaf.
  • Tuesday's tot could drink lots of Budweiser, then toss the tome in the toilet and make lots of Budweiser.
  • And of course, he who is blessed to have the duty of desecrating a Koran on Sunday could hammer a spike through its heart and bury it at a crossroads -- beneath a veritable Vesuvius of hog jowls, pickled pig's feet, and pork rinds.

Then we start all over again.

Dear Mr. Huge: Have you finally and irrevocably flipped your Yid lid? Signed, the Society for Prevention of Lighting Up Holy Lit

No no, I have a point, and it's a good one. Suppose we did this day in and day out, so that never did a single day pass without someone, somewhere creatively desecrating a Koran. On the telly. On YouTube, in the papers, on the sacred soil of the wirefeed. Suppose Koran-obliterating became ubiquitous, offhand, humdrum: Yawn, another Koran in the trash compactor, how droll. Desecrate, desecrate, desecrate!

Hard as it may be to believe, even radical Islamists are human beings; and as humans, eventually they will just plain run out of outrage. Only a tiny handful of people have a literally infinite capacity to become incensed, hysterical, like a middle-aged matron who thinks she saw a mouse. (Or like the gangster Woody Allen described in one of his books, probably Without Feathers, since that's the only one I read: Allen's mafioso was so paranoid, ne never allowed anyone in New York City to get behind him.)

For the rest of the world, including the vast majority of Moslems, outrage is not infinite: Pitching a spaz requires hormones such as adrenalin coursing through one's body; but the body cannot produce adrenalin all day, every day without it taking a terrific toll on health. Sooner or later, each individual hysteric must either calm down, take a deep breath, and resolve just to ignore the unholy undertaking in future... or else die of a coronary delusion at age 38.

Therefore, if the West made every day "Burn a Koran Day," then after a very few months, the ummah would greet each day's desecration as conservatives greet each day's Obamunism: With an exasperated eye-roll, but elsewise equanimity. When Ahmadinejad or Nasrallah or Zawahiri screams "The infidels are burning the Koran, we must rush forth and slay the nearest Christian and the ten nearest Jews!" -- the rest of Islamdom will shrug and say, "So what else is new?" The action of burning a Koran will have utterly lost all impact, all effect, all meaning... it will have become just another book.

And then we can stop.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 13, 2010, at the time of 9:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 30, 2009

Rerun of the Perotistas

Confusticated Conservatives , Cultures and Contortions , Future of the GOP
Hatched by Dave Ross

All of the lovely energy and idealism expanded this summer by the national tea parties and the general angst that is building up against the ruling Democrats and President Obama will be for naught if the populist fervor gets sidetracked into a third party.

Remember that weird, ugly, loony, fruitcake that half of the country swooned over in 1992? Like drinking a particularly vile Thunderbird or Mad Dog 2020 and waking up in some strange bed, most people who voted for Ross Perot in 1992 would probably just as soon forget about it.

Half mad, completely self-absorbed, totally won over to his own messiah-hood from reading the adoring clippings about himself (goodness, this reads like today’s headlines!), Perot energized America’s populist core because he attracted conservatives and malcontents from both parties... and he ensured that Bill Clinton won two terms as president.

While the Democrats are busy blaming the Republicans for the hurricane of protests that they reaped over the summer and have convinced themselves that it was all orchestrated by the Republican National Committee (which couldn’t competently organize a sack race), it is becoming increasingly clear that the protesters are actually the Perotistas reincarnated. Which is appropriate, given the time of year.

This is both an opportunity for Republicans and a big train wreck waiting to happen to them.

As much fun as it is to see the Democrats walking into the mouth of a volcano and calling it a nice warm bath -- and as a much fun as it is to fantasize about how next year will be a replay of 1994 and that Obama is like Jimmy Carter, only even more hapless -- the fact is that the Republican hierarchy is made up of people who are embarrassed by true conservatism: the conservatism that wants a solid dollar backed by something other than someone’s promise; the conservatism that wants something like a balanced budget; and the conservatism that doesn’t want the government to run health care.

These country-club Republicans prefer to be “Obama light;” and if they get back into power, they would probably revert to the spending ways that got them kicked out of power in the first place.

But unless they purge that mind set, they are going to find that the Perotistas have formed a third party. And then we would be doomed to Democrat rule for many years to come.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, October 30, 2009, at the time of 9:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2008

The "Virtue" of Suffering

Cultures and Contortions , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Sachi

I was just unceremoniously kicked out of a diet topic on a Japanese-language Yahoo bulletin board, where I'd been posting for the last couple of months. "How the heck can you be kicked out of a topic so benign?", you might ask. Well, I made an unforgivable mistake: I suggested that maybe the goal should be to lose weight without suffering.

That did it.

If you want to read this silly, sorry tale and learn why (liberal) dieters generally intend to fail, then follow the "slither on" to the rest of this post...


People as a rule tend to think that in order to gain something, they need to give up something. This concept is ancient and universal: "No pain, no gain;" "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch;" "good medicine tastes bitter." Such proverbs exit in every culture, and they reflect a common belief: If a story sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A healthy suspicion is a good thing. We don’t want to be gullible, do we? However, some stories really are as good as they sound.

Who says losing weight has to be an act of self-flagellation? Why can't there be a way to eat anything you want and still lose weight? Plenty of people do; we all know someone who eats anything he wants but never gains an ounce. What's his secret? (Trick question; there isn't one.)

But what if someone invented a magical diet pill that would solve all your weight problems; would you take it? I suspect that an awful lot of people would not, even if believed it would really work. In fact, some of them would become violently angry: The very concept of easy and craving-free weight loss offends them, just as some people are outraged by the idea that we might somebody be able to solve our energy needs without any conservation ("making do with less") at all, or cure smoking-related diseases without forcing the entire country to quit smoking.

There is no such magic diet pill (yet!) But there really is a weight-loss system that works remarkably well for most people who try it; and it doesn't require buying special food, attending support groups, embarassing yourself on national TV, or spending any money at all. I made the mistake of alluding to it in the Yahoo topic -- and the reaction of the other posters was exactly as I said above; they were irate.


Recently, Dafydd and I both lost a lot of weight using a system promoted by British motivational speaker and hypnotherapist Paul McKenna. We first saw his four lectures on the Learning Channel (for free); we were skeptical, but we tried it... and without depriving ourselves or having any "forbidden foods," we lost a lot of weight.

For serious food lovers like us, this was an incredible solution. But McKenna didn't invent the program; all he did was observe the eating habits of NTPs and generalize to four basic rules. His real talent is actually getting people enthusiastic enough to give it an honest try.

I'm not an agent of McKenna, paid or volunteer; forgive me if I don't go into the details. If you're interested, I recommend you go to his web site and investigate it yourself. If you want to buy the book or DVD set, buy it. If not, then don't. (We bought a copy of the latter just to lend to friends and family who noticed we were suddenly much thinner and wanted to know how.)

But let me at least explain the four basic rules of McKenna system:

  1. When you are hungry, eat.
  2. Eat what you want, not what you think you should eat.
  3. Eat consciously, savoring every bite.
  4. When you even think you might be full, stop eating.

That's it. Too simple to work, right?

There are reasons why each rule supports the others; you need to practice them all, but that shouldn't be too hard. Anyway, since we weren't risking anything, we gave it a shot; and for us, the results were both quick and dramatic.


All right, enough about the program. Here's the point that leads to the story of the diet topic: The most refreshing thing about McKenna's program is that you don't have to suffer. You never go hungry; in fact, if you let yourself get too hungry, you're violating rule number one.

Since you know you can eat when you feel hungry and you're not stuck eating nothing but celery sticks and seaweed, you're under no pressure. You can easily do this for rest of your life; and that's the key.

For the past ten or fifteen years, I'd been battling ever-increasing body weight. I tried the Atkins diet, the 1000-calorie-a-day diet, the Slim Fast diet; you name it, I tried it. I always lost some weight, a few pounds, while I was dieting; once I even lost 25 pounds. But as soon as I went off the diet, the weight came back and then some. That's typical of most people's experience, as anyone who has ever dieted can tell you.

Most of the time, a diet fails because you think of it as a diet, something you're going to do until you get down to your "target weight;" and then you'll stop. It's too hard to maintain a diet forever; you're depriving yourself of everything you like to eat. So your diet is always temporary; when you lose X pounds (or get tired of dieting), you start eating like a ravenous wolverine again... and it starts all over.

But the problem isn't what you eat, it's how much you eat. There are no foods that are inherently bad; there are only bad eating habits. In fact, we eat the same food we always used to eat -- Chinese, Italian, sushi, pork chops, steak, pasta, tiramisu -- but we eat a whole lot less of it... literally half to a third of what we used to eat. What McKenna's program does is teach you how to eat what you want without eating more of it than you really need.

It worked amazingly well (along with exercising, which was never our problem; we always exercised). As my weight loss progressed, as I lost ten, twenty, thirty, forty pounds, I naturally wanted to talk about it with other people. But I understood that nothing is more boring than listening to someone else's weight loss story, unless you're also trying to lose weight. So I figured the best place to talk to others would be a (Japanese language) weight loss bulletin board. There, I figured, I could discuss various weight loss experiences with like-minded people, without boring everybody else.


There are many such boards. I tried a couple and immediately ran into a problem: Nobody had any interest in hearing about my experience. As soon as I said, "You can eat anything you want...” they tuned out. If they said anything at all, it was, “There's no such thing” or “It never works.” The fact I lost over 40 pounds didn't seem to impress them; some even called me a liar.

After b-board hopping for a while, I finally settled in a topic run by a woman who lost over 100 lbs in one year. Her handle name translated to “Three Digit,” because she used to weigh over 100 kilograms (220 pounds).

3D runs a blog called "Stoic Diet;" her method is the polar opposite of McKenna's. 3D was a huge eater as well as a heavy drinker; she used to eat an entire chicken for dinner and drink an entire bottle of sake. Her weight-loss method was to give up every food she liked -- and all alcohol.

I didn't agree with her system, but I was impressed by her effort. In any event, I thought it would be interesting to talk about various weight-loss techniques. We're all aiming for the same goal, right? Surely it would be beneficial to exchange information.

But I was careful this time. Remembering how some people are not comfortable listening to my experience, I tried not to sound too preachy or like an advertisement. I was respectful to others and never denounced or criticized anybody's diet.

But even that wasn't enough. On Stoic Diet, everyone is supposed to report what she ate and what exercise she did that day. Since I don't have any forbidden foods, my menu naturally looks very different from the others', which is usually some variant on tofu, bean sprouts, brown rice, a diet shake, alfalfa (what Dafydd calls a "grass sandwich"), and so on. My list contained pasta, steak, pizza, fried chicken, tapas, dim sum, salmon -- whatever we happened to make or order in a restaurant that day.

I could tell 3D was getting increasingly agitated by my posts. I knew she never liked me; ever since I told her that I do not give up any food, she made her dislike plain. But since I was not violating the topic’s rules, she grudgingly tolerated me.


The fit hit the shan a few days ago, when another poster complained about not being able to control her appetite; her post sounded like she was in tears when she wrote it. Although I'd been careful not to discuss the McKenna system in any detail, I couldn't let this woman just suffer: I made the mistake of giving her few possible solutions from McKenna's lectures; in particular, I told her to try close her eyes while she ate.

(Medical dietary researchers have found that if you eat while blindfolded, you feel full after eating significantly less food than if you can see your food while you eat. The visual stimulus of food makes you feel hungrier and overwhelms your stomach's signal that it's full. McKenna suggests trying it a few times if you're having trouble stopping, until you learn to detect your stomach's "full" signal.)

That advice set off one of the other posters -- not even the person I was talking to, but a different woman. She told me my "stupid advice" to the other woman was a distraction, like an annoying noise. Also, she told me that she had been really irritated by my food list. She was especially ticked off by my lox and bagel with cream cheese breakfast. "This is too much!" She said. "How can you eat such a high fat, high calorie, and high carbohydrate food combination when you're trying to lose weight? Your posts create a hostile environment, and you make me sick!"


Her violent reaction shocked me; but I was even more astonished when 3D, the moderator, sided with the complainer and handed me a "red card" for violating one of her topic rules: I had dared to mention a different weight-loss method than her “stoic diet.” I was never even aware of such a rule, which was not written down anywhere.

When I told Dafydd about this, he immediately said, "With that absolute passion for freedom of speech, she must a liberal."

I told 3D I was merely conveying a simple trick to supplement her method. She tells people to eat less; if there's a simple, easy way to control appetite, why shouldn't people discuss it? Our mutual goal is to lose weight and keep it off, so what difference does it make how we achieve that goal?

"No!" she wrote; "that's not my goal. That's not this topic's objective at all. I am not simply trying to lose weight and maintain it: The goal is to change one's lifestyle forever. Your goal and my goal are completely incompatible. Don't think even for a second that we're heading toward the same place." (I'm translating from Japanese, obviously.)

What does she mean by “changing one’s life style?” Obviously not simply maintaining ideal weight and staying healthy; she can only mean something simultaneously more spiritual and more ominous.

As I read her past blogposts, I realized she has a lot of what my sister-in-law, the MFCC, would call "issues." She used to be an emotional eater, someone who eats to feel better after some emotional upset: You don't get a promotion, you eat a box of doughnuts; you break up with your boyfriend, you go to KFC and eat an entire family-sized bucket of chicken.

She talked about how her mother was an alcoholic and often drunk; then Mom was diagnosed as a diabetic; she ignored the doctor’s advice and kept eating sweets and drinking sake -- and (surprise) eventually she lost a leg and is now bedridden. 3D and other family members take turns caring for this selfish, self-indulgent woman in her final days... I can feel the anger in her blogging about her mother.

3D often emphasized that we must figure out why we got fat in the first place, she decided it was "over-indulgence." Therefore, she concluded, the only way to lose weight was to deny herself all foods she actually desired.


She seems to have taken a single quotation from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus and turned it into a dieting program:

“Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one's desires, but by the removal of desire.”

Of course, she hasn't removed desire... she just denies herself any food she desires. I don't think she really understands the point of Stoicism. Instead, 3D is like a Buddhist monk who deprives himself of every earthly desire in order to achieve spiritual "nothingness" (what a goal!) For her, the hardship of dieting is more important than losing weight.

If I can use some psychobabble I don't really understand, I don’t think she ever really faced her inner demons at all. It's true she used to be over indulgent, a fanatic about eating and drinking; now she's a fanatic about dieting. But as the playwright Eugene Ionesco once said in an interview (about twenty-five years ago in World Press Review), "A fanatic can never be convinced but only converted."

Extreme eater to extreme dieter; same car, different plastic. She should have gone one step further; she should have figured out why she was over-indulging herself with food. It's obvious she was an emotional eater. But why, what vacuum was she trying to fill? Probably the emotional hole left by her drunken mother.

She often analogized that diet is like a mountain climbing; each step is important. But on her climb up that mountain, she only allows one route -- the hardest one. My mistake was thinking that her goal was to summit; so I pointed out an easier route. This infuriated her. "How dare you introduce an easier route! Don’t you understand ‘suffering’ is the only noble path?"

Or to slightly misquote Ring Lardner (the sportswriter father, not the Commie screenwriter son) -- "Shut up, she explained."


3D claims she understands there are many different ways to lose weight. She even respects my way (so she says). It's just that she doesn't want me to talk about it; she doesn't want me to tell anybody about it; and most especially, she doesn't want "her" dieters to hear anything about it. When I "insisted" on talking about it (once), she suggested I should go somewhere else. She's all for freedom of speech, except when the speech is "just plain wrong."

I think Dafydd has it right: She is a liberal.

If you think anyone on that board would side with me, you're sadly mistaken. Nobody said a word except one woman, who wrote: “Please erase all the things you wrote about easy appetite control. They make me feel uncomfortable.” Isn't that what liberals like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi said about the things that Gen. David Petraeus was trying to tell them about how we could (and finally did) achieve victory in Iraq?

I think most people really don't want to succeed in life; they want to fail, then wallow in their misery. It's so much easier; once you've embraced failure and accepted suffering as your lot in life, you never have to struggle again. (Of course, it's never the leaders like Barack H. Obama who suffer; they tell you to suffer for their sins.)

If that's where the posters on Stoic Diet are headed, I absolutely refuse to follow; if I see someone drowning, I'll throw her a rope; I won't jump in and drown alongside her.

I think this must be one of the biggest distinctions between liberals and conservatives:

  • Conservatives understand there are no "solutions," only trade-offs; so they cut the best deal they can, a trade-off that actually makes things better. Even if some trade-off sounds "too good to be true," they will at least investigate before rejecting it.
  • Liberals see "solutions" to every problem everywhere; but they will only accept perfection. Any solution that falls short is not even worth the bother; they'd rather do nothing.

What a miserable world this is for anyone who follows the latter philosophy.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, August 11, 2008, at the time of 4:46 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

Striking a Blow for Civilization

Abortion Distortion , Constitutional Maunderings , Court Decisions , Cultures and Contortions
Hatched by Dafydd

As many of you know -- though for others, it will be a killer shock that will send you reeling away, screaming dark imprecations at me, never to return to Big Lizards, halving out readership, and destroying the entire franchise... huh, maybe I shouldn't tell you!

Oh heck. Full disclosure, blah.

As many of you know, both lizards are somewhat pro-abortion-rights, albeit Sachi much more reluctantly than Dafydd. So I thought you might appreciate the thoughts of admittedly pro-abortion-rights commentators on today's excellent Supreme Court decision upholding the federal ban on the most gruesome and barbaric "medical" procedure allowed (until today) in contemporary America.

The cases decided in one decision today are Gonzales v. Carhart, 05-380, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, 05-1382.

Shades of grey

First, let me clarify where my abortion tolerance begins and where it ends. It is impossible to hold any position at all on abortion without first holding a position on when, not human life, but human personhood begins. Some folks may not even recognize that they have such a position, but they do; they're just remarkably unself-aware.

  1. Some believe human personhood begins at the moment of conception. Thus, any clump of cells that will develop into a human being, if left to prevailing natural processes, is necessarily a human person at all points of that process... right from the very beginning.
  2. Others believe that, while a human zygote (a fertilized human egg) is unquestionably the first stage of a human being, it does not become a human person -- with attendant rights, duties, and protections -- until later in the process. They point to the immense structural differences between a zygote, an embryo, a foetus, and a late-term foetus and argue that personhood depends upon some element of that pre-natal development.

What follows is just my personal belief and isn't part of the mainline argument of this post; I'll indent it, and you can skip ahead without losing the thread.

I fall into group 2. I cannot look at a zygote and see it as morally equivalent to a living baby.

For me, the particular critical area of development is the cerebral cortex -- that which most separates human beings from the other creatures on the planet, in terms of biology.

(The only exceptions are the cetaceans, which have well developed cerebral cortices, but which clearly do not have human levels of intelligence, alas. As a science fiction fan, I would love the idea that we had a couple of "alien species" on the planet that we could talk to; but this has been studied for decades... and every scrap of evidence points to the conclusion that they're just clever animals.)

So I would allow abortion only up until such time as the cerebral cortex is fully formed and functional -- though not fully developed, of course, since that happens only at adulthood. I believe there is a fairly clear point where the cortex activates, and it's usually somewhere around the 26th week (around the end of the second trimester). I would allow abortion for any reason before cortical activity rises to a certain point, and afterwards, disallow it for any reason except to save the life -- not the "health" -- of the mother... and even then, every effort should be made to save the baby, even if that puts the mother at some increased risk.

I do not believe that a human person is nothing but a lump of protoplasm. I believe humans have non-destructable souls. But I also believe that human souls do not inhabit non-human bodies, else we would see them in animals. Until cortical activity rises to a certain level, the developing body is not yet human: I literally believe that the soul cannot "fit" into that body until the body is ready to receive it, and ensoulment occurs sometime after that period of cortical activation. Since I obviously cannot know when after that point ensoulment occurs -- traditional Jewish teaching is that it occurs when the baby takes its first breath after being born -- I would outlaw abortion after cortical activation (that is, when cortical activity rises above a certain point).

All right, back to today's Court decision upholding the ban on partial-birth abortions.

Lovecraftian horror

I refuse to use the deliberately obscurantist medical circumlocuation, "intact dilation and extraction," the very purpose of which is to conceal what is actually done. A person would have no idea from this title that after dilating the cervix and extracting the body of the baby, the real work begins. I'll let Wikipedia describe what happens next, in their (generally supportive) article on the subject:

An incision is made at the base of the skull and a suction catheter is inserted into the cut. The brain tissue is removed, which causes the skull to collapse and allows the fetus to pass more easily through the birth canal. The placenta is removed and the uterine wall is vacuum aspirated using a suction curette.

All this while everything except for the head is dangling outside of the mother's birth canal. So I think "partial-birth abortion" is the most vivid and accurate name for the horrific procedure.


Obviously, since I completely oppose late-term abortions (after cortical activation), I cannot help but applaud a Court decision that bans one form of late-term abortion, albeit a rare one. But many partial-birth abortions are performed earlier in the pregnancy, at a time when I do not categorially oppose abortion. So why do I oppose partial-birth abortions, even in the second trimester?

For me, this is the tipping point: Suppose the doctor slipped up and allowed the head to emerge as well -- but then continued with the "abortion" anyway: He just went ahead with the incision and the suction catheter and removing the brain tissue of a "foetus" that was actually lying in the mother's lap. What would happen then?

I believe he would be arrested and tried for murder... with special circumstances. The doctor would have delivered a live baby -- and calmly killed it in full view of its mother. At an absolute minimum, it should be considered "depraved indifference to human life;" but I think murder charges would be filed. The DA would call it infanticide, and nearly everybody in the country would agree.

The distinction between infanticide and legal abortion cannot be four inches movement down a tube.

For me (see above), the second trimester is a grey area: the foetus has some distinctly "baby-like" features, while other features (mostly in the higher brain) are not well developed. It's not yet a person, but it's getting somewhat close. Similarly, at the very end of life, a person can lose so much of what makes him a person that decisions about life and death similarly become murky: I support withdrawing life support under some circumstances; but I totally opposed starving Terry Schiavo to death -- and I still believe it was immoral, despite clear post-mortem evidence that Schiavo was not aware enough to notice.

A lot can tip the scales when in the grey zone. And one very strong distinction to me is between a baby that is born and a foetus that is still in the womb.

By the very act of inducing labor and allowing it to proceed virtually to the point of birth, the doctor has tipped the scales from allowable abortion to criminal infanticide. The foetus has become an independent baby... at least as far as this one abortion-rights supporter believes.

As bad as the more common form of second-trimester abortion is, it does not even begin to approach the Nazi-like, nausea-inducing horror of partial-birth abortion. (In dilation and evacuation, the foetus is killed and dismembered inside the womb, then the individual pieces are extracted.) D & E is itself pretty gruesome to contemplate; but there is no point at which the dependent foetus becomes, for all intents and purposes, an independent, delivered baby.

The road not taken

Finally, there is the question of precedent. Both Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%) and Barack Obama (D-IL, 95%) make a big to-do about the "departure" from Supreme Court precedent of this ruling:


This decision marks a dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that upheld a woman's right to choose and recognized the importance of women's health.


I strongly disagree with today's Supreme Court ruling, which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women.

To which I reply -- so what? Even if it's true that Gonzales v. Carhart/Planned Parenthood "departs" from precedent -- which claim itself is questionable -- why should we care? The Court is not bound by any previous court rulings... not even its own.

It has the power to overturn itself, as it has many times in the past; for example, when Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), upholding "separate but equal" racial segregation in the public schools, was overturned 58 years later in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). Does any respectable lawyer, Democrat or Republican, complain that Brown didn't follow the racist precedent of Plessy?

For that matter, did Hillary Clinton object when the Court decided Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) -- thus overturning 170 years of Supreme Court precedent? Since the beginning of the very idea that the Court could overturn federal laws (Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 in 1803), no United States Supreme Court had ever found a constitutional right to an abortion.

It doesn't even follow the precedent of Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 1965, as the Roe decision claimed; since the "right of privacy" doesn't have any obvious connection that I can see to the right to kill a foetus.

In 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade, Hillary Rodham was a newly minted attorney -- though I'm not sure she was yet an attorney at law. So she must have been fascinated by that Court decision. Yet I will eat a bug if anyone can find a Hillary Clinton quotation complaining that Roe v. Wade "marks a dramatic departure" from Supreme Court precedent.

(In 1973, Barack Obama was 12 years old, so I don't hold him to the same standard. But surely he studied Roe v. Wade at Harvard Law in the late 80s. If he ever objected to Roe because it "dramatically departs from previous precedents," it certainly hasn't come to my attention.)

Thus, the entire argument against today's decision, that it violates precedent, is nothing but a shibboleth: It's an infallible guide to those who vehemently oppose Gonzales vs. Carhart/Planned Parenthood. It is an ersatz argument that needn't be further addressed.


So yes, I absolutely and enthusiastically applaud this Court decision, in which we managed to hold onto Justice Anthony Kennedy (who wrote the decision) and the four conservative members -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. It's the best news to come out of the Court since they prevented Al Gore from suing his way into the White House.

I rarely say this, but... three cheers for Anthony Kennedy!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 18, 2007, at the time of 4:35 PM | Comments (34) | TrackBack

March 30, 2007

That Was Then, This Is Still Then. To Them. You Dig?

Congressional Calamities , Cultures and Contortions , Illiberal Liberalism , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Just a few Spring mullings...

The more I ponder the Democrats, the more amazed am I at their anachronism. They insist upon living in the past. But unlike Civil War reenactors or the Society for Creative Anachronism, the Left also insists that the rest of us live in their past, as well.

Virtually every position they actually take -- and there aren't many -- is an attempt to relive the "good, old days" of the 1960s (actually, a fantasy 60s that's more like Tribes, Billy Jack, or Hair). In their own tepid way, they are as anxious to recreate a bygone era as are Islamic fundamentalists... which may be one reason they find it easier to understand our enemies than fellow Americans.

Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho

First and most obvious is the Democratic/liberal/New Left support for governance by protest. Back in the very late 60s and early 70s, "protest" was more than a means of political expression; it became, for the first time in American history, a lifestyle choice for a small but influential segment of the populace... a populace that has now grown old (if not up) and seized the levers of governmental power.

The 1960s saw the rise of the professional agitator in America; in this, they mimicked the professional rabble-rousers of Europe, starting in the late 19th century and through the early 20th. But as usual in America, nothing succeeds like excess: Our professional agitators became an entire "class."

Thousands of people decided to take Timothy Leary's advice to "turn on, tune in, drop out" without having the least idea what Leary was talking about: There was a chance to freeload in there somewhere, and by golly, they were going to grab it! Most of the hippies weren't particularly political; but when the Yippies took over the "movement," it became explicitly hard-left; in fact, the Youth International Party paved the way for the Symbionese Liberation Army, the ultimate expression of "action directe."

Action directe, besides being the actual name of an actual terrorist group in France, is the philosophy that rational discussion is no longer sufficient to change the direction of the country towards socialism (or more often, Stalinism). Rather, revolutionaries must take "direct action"... that is, protest, sabotage, and violence.

Political violence is like a drug that comes with a built-in higher rationale:

  • It gives the user an amazing high;
  • It's addictive;
  • It becomes all-consuming, so that the addict must drop out of the normal world. Soon, it's the only thing that matters in the addict's life.

(Terrorism is the ultimate example of action directe, of course; but that takes more courage than is found in most American lefties... to our great good fortune.)

As anybody knows who has paid attention in the past few years, protest as a way of life, which had faded from view for decades, is back... big time. Cindy Sheehan may be the best exemplar. (Warning, harshness alert!) She appears to have filled the void left by her son Casey's heroic death in Iraq with perpetual protest against... well, virtually everything. It's hard to pin her down.

But she has abandoned her real family (including her other son) in favor of the permanent-protester acolytes, who call her "Mother Sheehan" and treat her like a visiting saint.

Sheehan is joined on the agitation circuit by virtually every major Democratic politician; they drift from protest to protest, delivering drive-by remarks on a variety of subject about which they are ignorant. At each venue, they lead the audience in some version of the "hey, hey, ho, ho" chant -- e.g., "Hey, hey, ho, ho, western civ has got to go!"

Puppets and pageantry fill the empty corners of their lives the way that family, friends, and civic activities fill the lives of real Americans. I mean literal puppets: Giant marionettes and Hindenburg-sized inflatable animals are perennials at every major protest, just like they are at every children's party.

Most of the perennial protesting politicians did at least go to university during the 60s; but curiously, many were not, in fact, hippies, Yippies, or protesters themselves (think Hillary Clinton). So it may not be nostalgia so much as a "mulligan." It's an attempt to go back in time and actually engage in the socially conscious behavior they always secretly admired, longed to join, but lacked the courage to do: They wish they could have been, if not Jerry Rubin or Abbie Hoffman, at least John Kerry or Jane Fonda.

And of course, given the age advantage of most Democratic party leaders and the fact that they have at least confabulated memories of the great protest "movement" of the 60s, they still receive the worshipful attention of the mass of today's 20-something protesters -- giving them a hit of a stronger and more addictive drug: guruhood.

For those who want a taste of action directe but aren't gutsy enough to go skinny dipping in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the natural analog is governance by judicial fiat: They take their political theater into the courtroom, shop for a sympathetic judge, and parade a circus of pathetic victims whose woes can only be cured by the direct judicial imposition of socialism, atheism, infanticide, and euthanasia.

Hey, hey, LBJ...

The 60s protests had two distinct foci: the civil-rights movement and the anti-war movement. The latter is most obviously relevant today, with the Iraq war dominating the American consciousness like the Incredible Hulk.

It's one thing to protest the plight of the poor, American support for fascist dictators, genetically engineered corn, abortion rights, grapes, or trans-fats. It is an altogether finer thing to protest a war.

For one thing, wars are big, violent, and obvious; you don't need to enunciate a complex explanation of the evils of war -- as you do when protesting the evils of carbon dioxide, which everybody exhales and green plants love.

All you need do is show pictures of dead, bloody bodies, and you're in business. Who could possibly be in favor of dead and/or mulilated kids? The only trick is to make people believe that America is responsible whenever the enemy commits an atrocity... which is not a difficult task, as most people around the world believe that the American government is God and can do anything it wants. So if it's not preventing some catastrophe, the only explanation is -- they want it to happen!

Thus, President Bush wanted Hurricane Katrina to kill those hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, because the victims were all poor, black Democrats. He wanted the tsunami to wipe out large portions of the developing world. And he certainly wanted those 650,000 (or was that 650 million?) innocent civilians to die horribly in Iraq.

The first two are hard sells, because most Americans are somewhat skeptical of the ability of the President of the United States to prevent natural disasters by signing the Kyoto Protocol. But since we did, in fact, invade Iraq -- a peaceful country led by an enlightened leader who was keeping the Islamists at bay and bringing prosperity and love to his people -- that's an easy sell to anyone who doesn't like Bush. Or Republicans. Or Southerners. Or anyone who believes in the biblical God.

But being anti-war is more than just protesting; it too is a way of political life. Being anti-war means never having to say you're guilty: It provides absolution for any other sin you may commit. This time, think of the corrupt Rep. John Murtha (D-PA, 65%) -- or the ambulance-chasing, settlement-extorting John Edwards.

You don't even need to enunciate a coherent anti-war position, one that tackles the original danger that sparked the war in the first place. All you need do is intone the appropriate mantra -- "war is not the answer," "give peace a chance," "the survivors will envy the dead," "Bush lied, people died" -- and you never have to answer the question of what would have happened had we not gone to war.

War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. So obviously, we must have peace at any price... even if the price is surrender to jihad.

No justice, no peace!

The original cause that spawned the protests of the 60s was civil rights; mass ant-war protest came later. There is a huge advantage to trying to recreate the civil rights era in today's political culture, but there is also a minor drawback:

  • There really, truly was a nationwide culture of racism and bigotry that had to be overcome, not just in the South but everywhere: Consider the "zoot-suit riots" in Los Angeles, for only one example.

    Few people today could look back with equanimity at what ordinary Americans, just a few decades ago, could say and support without feeling shame. Segregation was not invented; and we really did have whites-only public facilities, government sponsored terrorism against Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and Chinese, and concentration camps for Americans of Japanese descent (Michelle Malkin notwithstanding).

  • But on the other hand, no such climate exists today. Thus, effective protesters must invent one.

That challenge means the agitator must identify all three elements: the victim, the perp, and the crime. But this can actually be a strategic advantage (when life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in people's eyes). During the actual civil-rights era, it was easy for people to ensure they were on the right side: just oppose racial discrimination (Jim Crow laws) while supporting racial discrimination (affirmative action), and you were home free!

But when the Left gets to indentify not only the actors but even the crime itself, then everyone is potentially guilty... so no one is secure.

  • Yesterday, the victims were oppressed atheists, the bigots were those who believe in the Judeo-Christian God, and the crime was allowing any cross to be visible anywhere in the United States, rather than hidden decently behind closed church doors. (And sometimes not even there; I cite the College of William & Mary.)
  • Today, the victims du jour are radical Moslems, the bigots are those who support the war on global jihad, and the crime is failing to respect the jihadists' religion, which requires them to throw the Jew down the well.
  • In early 2001, the victims were Afghan women, the bigots were freshman President George W. Bush and his administration, and the crime was doing absolutely nothing to boot the Taliban out of Afghanistan. See how adaptable the game is?

Maybe tomorrow, the victims will be religious Christian leftists who believe in liberation theology, the bigots will be secular Americans, and the crime will be refusing to vote for socialized medicine and same-sex marriage. We shall overcome!

Where have all the flowers gone?

The Democratic Party has three core crusades, in order of increasing abstraction:

  1. End the Iraq war at any price: So they agitate for withdrawal, release of political prisoners such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, and reinstating the draft, Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-Harlem, 95%) favorite hobby horse: Terror of the draft spawns million-mom anti-war rallies.
  2. Eliminate the Jim-Crow laws that elevate Judeo-Christian culture and oppress other religions, such as Islam, Wicca, and Santeria: So they agitate for polygamy, gay marriage, and animal sacrifice.
  3. Suppress democracy -- legislative action -- in favor of judicial decree and action directe: So they support activist judges and nominate politicians who cater to protest groups, from CAIR, to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, to NOW, to NARAL, to International ANSWER, to NAMBLA.

Each affords the opportunity for Democrats to revel in a past that never was -- or at least never was for them; to riot and agitate and feel the joy of bluster and bravado without the actual risk of combat; to fulfill every libertine fantasy they ever dreamt while toiling away in college; to feel self-righteous and wash away the sins that bedevil them; and simply to indulge the childish desire to run off and join the carnival (complete with a Washington freak show that dims the luster of the geek, the fat lady, and the half-man, half-woman).

Nostalgic for yesterday, frightened by tomorrow, and befuddled by today, the Democrats drive pedal to the metal, while staring fixedly in the rear-view mirror. I hope the American people prefer to watch where we're going.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 30, 2007, at the time of 3:59 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 9, 2007

The "Burqini" - Shaken and Stirred

Cultures and Contortions , Media Madness , Oz
Hatched by Dafydd

A symphony of cultural symbiosis

This New York Times piece is a very badly written article that nevertheless reveals a very good development: There is life after jihad.

In fact, there's even surfing!

We're back to sunny Australia, where it's late summer/early fall, because they're on the wrong side of the globe. We're at Cronulla beach (in literary spirit, I mean, not our corruptible, mortal bodies), site of many previous clashes between Moslem "Lebanese" (mostly Palestinians, actually) and white, Christian Australians.

Our previous forrays into this neutral zone were:

The good: The point of the article is to show that moderate Moslems really can assimilate into Western culture without having to jettison their faith.

The ugly: That hideous lexiconic creation, the word "burqini"... as mutt-ugly as the word looks, its referrant is tossing a "life saver" to thousands of Australian Moslem women who don't want their religion to chain them to an old way of life.

The bad: The Times cannot help itself; it simply must whitewash the violent contributions of Australian Moslem hotheads and play up those of the whites, leaving the impression of "good" (Moslem) vs. "evil" (Christian).

One of the biggest impediments to Moslem women immigrants fully assimilating into their new culture is the modesty required by devout Islam for women's dress: They must wear the burqa, which covers the entire body, from the hair atop their heads to the ankles. While some women without question feel oppressed and burdoned by the burqa, others embrace it willingly, even eagerly, like Orthodox Jewish men embracing the yarmulke.

But every woman who wears the traditional burqa is constricted in movement and activity: There are certain things she simply cannot do while wearing a burqa... including going for a swim on the beach. The heavy cotton cloth would hamper her arm and leg movements and might even lead to drowning -- think of swiming while wearing an asbestos fire-fighting suit.

But no longer do... I mean, there's a new...

Oh, heck. On the rhetorical supposition that one picture is worth a thousand weirds, take a look; you see perhaps the beginning of a Reformation - Enlightenment of Islam:


Burqini (R)

The figure on the left is a man dressed in the traditional uniform of an Australian "Surf Life Saver," what we would call a lifeguard.

The figure on the right, believe it or not, is a girl dressed in a burqa.

From the Times:

Ms. Laalaa is a Muslim and has voluntarily worn the burqa, the traditional head-to-toe covering for Muslim women, since she was 14. It is hard to swim, she said, if your body is swathed in cotton, which is very heavy when wet.

Now, her clothing quandary solved by a novel fashion, the burqini, Ms. Laalaa, a vivacious 20-yearold, has become a Surf Life Saver, as volunteer lifeguards here are known, lured to the beach by a new outreach program for Australia’s Muslims.

This burqa satisfies the strict Islamic dress restrictions; the girl, Mecca Laalaa, is fully covered. Even her hair is covered by the bright-red sack-like protuberance at the top, and you can see that the yellow of the burqa-bikini, called a "burqini," unfortunately enough, comes all the way up her neck into the hair covering.

But this burqini is made of form-fitting spandex, and it's perfectly suitable for swimming. My guess is that the designer, a woman named Aheda Zanetti, got the idea from what contemporary Olympic swimmers wear -- full-body-covering Lycra (spandex) swimsuits:

Olympic High-Tech Swimsuits 1    Olympic High-Tech Swimsuits 2

New Olympic high-tech swimsuits

This "novel fashion," as the Times cluelessly puts it, is far more than just a cool way for young, faithful Moslem girls to hang out on the beach. It represents something brand new to Islam: the idea of creatively reinterpreting scripture to more easily conform to the modern world.

That was the stunning breakthrough Christendom went through from the early sixteenth century through the end of the eighteenth: first the Reformation, followed by the Enlightenment. By 1800, Christians had a completely different conception of their faith than they did in the 1400s and earlier. No longer was religion a totalitarian system, governing every minute of every day; no longer would innovation itself be a kind of heresy, something to arouse fear, or at least suspicion.

No longer was the material world to be considered nothing but a foul, oppressive punishment designed to purge sin from the spirit in preparation for the eternal afterlife. Yes, Christians still often pay lip service to that idea, even today; but they do not live like that, and that was the conceptual revolution.

At once, it became perfectly natural to invent labor-saving devices and systems to increase the general wealth of everyone. Hard work was no longer your "just punishment" for the inherited sin of Adam and Eve; it was just what you did to earn la dolce vita.

I have said for some time that the real solution to the problem of jihad was not for the West to annihilate all of Islam -- we can't; nor for the West to surrender -- we mustn't. Rather, it is for the West to encourage Islam to undergo its own Reformation-Enlightenment. Some (like Robert Spencer) seem to believe it's impossible; but they tend to use static analysis... they look at the suras of the Koran and say 'it's not possible to interpret that any other way than violence and terrorism,' because (after all) that's how they always have been interpreted.

Such static critics need an injection of creativity, or they need a Hollywood lawyer (preferably one who has litigated the Talmud). It's always possible to interpret even the most restrictive proscription in a way that makes it easier to live with, and easier to accomodate to modernity. You just have to think hard enough.

If the burqini catches on, it might spark other accomodations. Those accomodations, no matter how small, are the first cracks in the dam; and eventually, the sea of modernity will flood the low valleys of religious fundamentalism.

All right, so we've been through the ugly (the word "burqini") and the good (the burqini concept itself). Now for the bad...

In our previous posts, we discussed the long, escalating tensions between the Lebanese-Palestinians who immigrated to Australia (they or their children) and the white Australians, whose ancestors immigrated to Australia a long time ago (and often involuntarily) What follows is lifted from our earlier article, Riot Boyz Clash, So No Bikini Atoll, linked above:

December 11th is the first-year anniversary of the infamous Cronulla riot, which began on Cronulla Beach in New South Wales, near Canberra.

A riot in Australia? I never heard about that!

Evidently, before the riots, beach-goers had been attacked and harassed for quite some time by "Middle Eastern youths" and "Arab youths" -- mostly Moslem Lebanese immigrants, or "migrants," as they're called in Australia.

According to the Wikipedia link above, a few days prior to December 11th, 2005, a couple of white Australians were assaulted by a dozen Moslem youths at Cronulla beach; one man was beaten, as was another man who tried to come to his aid; the attackers are said to have shouted "we own this country" during the assault. A few days later, three lifeguards were also assaulted and seriously injured at the same beach, also by a dozen young Moslem males (thought not necessarily the same ones):

On Sunday 4 December 2005, a group of male youths of Middle Eastern descent were playing soccer on a Cronulla beach when the North Cronulla surf lifesavers are reported to have asked them to stop, as it was disturbing other users of the beach. The response from the youths was: "Get off our beach. This is our beach. We own it."

Gerard Henderson, columnist at The Sydney Morning Herald, alleges that the surf lifesavers then provided the youths with "a degree of verbal provocation", and "reminded the south-western suburb inhabitants that they could not swim". Shortly thereafter three surf lifesavers (aged 15, 19 and 20) were confronted by initially four, and then later up to twelve individuals, and in the process were allegedly assaulted. Not all of those present were directly involved in the melee, and several of the larger group were reported to have attempted to break up the altercation.

Police later claimed that there was no apparent racial motive behind that assault. [Isn't it interesting that this is always the first thing they claim? But note that the police don't mention whether there was a religous motive behind the assault.] A teenager was later charged with assault in company occasioning actual bodily harm.

According to Wikipedia, these incidents (and likely the repeated claim that the migrants owned the country) ticked off local Aussies of "Anglo-Celtic" descent. Wikipedia goes on to say that the Australians heard "inflammatory comments" and some rhetoric that could be taken as racist by radio hosts Alan Jones and Steve Price.

The following weekend, more than 5,000 Australian activists showed up at the beach to protest against Moslem violence; but the party atmosphere soon morphed into a mob mentality, or so says Wiki. When a Middle-Eastern looking man was chased to nearby hotel, the actual riot erupted. Several Middle-Eastern looking people, without regard to their actual nationality, were attacked, their property vandalized. Even an ambulance was attacked.

That night and the following few days, "Arab youths" roamed the street, looking for "revenge" on the whites and sporadically attacking people and burning and vandalizing properties. The violence continued to December 15th.

At the tail end of a Christmas carols service at St Joseph the Worker Primary School drive-by shots were fired into cars and parents and primary school students were verbally abused by men described as Middle Eastern. Furthermore, a total of four Churches in Sydney's South-West were attacked during the evening. The Uniting Church hall in Auburn, which is next to an Islamic centre, was set ablaze about 1.30 a.m. (AEDT) on 15 December. Premier Morris Iemma stated that "it may be" linked to the ongoing riots.

That is our summation starting from Wikipedia, but reviewing every, single external link supplied in the lengthy article... which seems pretty fair-minded, as it doesn't whitewash anybody.

But contrast that to how the New York Times describes the Cronulla riots; ask yourself this question: What is missing from this picture?

The outreach was the response to an ugly episode on Cronulla Beach, about 20 miles south of downtown Sydney, in December 2005, when skinheads and neo-Nazis, many drunk and with racial epithets painted on their bodies and T-shirts, marauded through the area beating up Lebanese men.

Many here and abroad wondered if Australia was headed for a period of rising racial tension. The riots set off a round of soul-searching and left many Australians asking if the violence reflected an underlying racism in their society.

What's missing is quite obvious: The Times simply omits all of the Moslem anti-Australian provocation before the riot and all the Moslem retaliation after. It's as if it never happened.

That would be like describing the Pacific theater of World War II thus: One day, American bombers swooped down upon Japan and dropped two atomic bombs, killing 214,000 innocent Japanese. The end.

This is typical of the drive-by media. Before writing the first word, or even gathering information, the press already had "the Story": white Christians committing hate crimes against teenagers of the Religion of Peace™. They didn't bother digging to find out what really happened, because there was no need; they already knew. And if they accidentally uncovered something that just plain didn't fit, well, they might puzzle over it for a while; but then it will be dropped and forgotten, as a monkey would drop a magazine that was beyond its comprehension.

It's necessary, however, to truly understand how close to the brink these rival gangs danced... in order to appreciate how much better relations are today between Christian and Moslem at Cronulla Beach. So far as I know, there has not been any violent attack on either side since December 2005. Such a de-escalation shows that it truly is possible for ummah and Christendom to rub together without causing so much irritation that a riot breaks out.

What it seems to have taken, in Australia's case, was a fairly firm response by the police against both sides, driving home the point that they don't have to like each other, but they must learn to tolerate each the other... or cool their heels and heads in la calabooza. It seems to have worked; and how we have the burqini as some odd offspring of the two disparate cultures. Long live the half-breeds!

So the bad, the ugly, and the very, very good, all in one package. It exemplifies the Times' new motto: All the news we see fit to print!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 9, 2007, at the time of 5:08 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

December 10, 2006

Riot Boyz Clash, So No Bikini Atoll

Cultures and Contortions , Oz , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

Sadly, the much anticipated the Great Australian Bikini March (GABM) has been cancelled... or at least postponed till next month. The organizers of the event blame this largely on irresponsible, drive-by media reporting:

During the month of the campaign, most media were respectful, reported the facts, focused on the issue and agreed that publishing personal details about organizers was unnecessary.

However, during the last few days there have been an increasing smear campaign in an attempt to sensationalise or discredit us....

Apparently some in the media are intent that the GABM should not be allowed to proceed.

Some people are very powerful. It would appear that free speech in a 'tolerant' society is not tolerated. [Emphasis in original]

The level of hostility against us even included verbal abuse and threats to publish our personal details. This culminated in one media outlet doing so and placing a family at risk.

In addition, some allegedly white-supremacist group horned in on the march, which certainly did not help things; in fact, that is probably why the Australiain "elite media," even more left-leaning than ours, went to such great lengths to stop them.

Australian leftist-anarchist blogger Slack Bastard, who has been critical of the march for some time, claims to have the details:

I first became aware of "The Great Australian Bikini March" via the blog of Perth-based convicted neo-Nazi criminal Ben Weerhym, and my first blog entry on the subject is dated November 14. (Ben Weerhym’s promotion of the event had commenced on the previous day, November 13.) His blog entry on the subject, titled "Bikini Babes, No Hijabs - Saturday Dec 9, 2006," named Hawkins and Smith as the organizers, and included their mobile telephone numbers as contacts for the March.

(As usual for left-wing blogs, Slack Bastard did not bother linking to the supposed "neo-Nazi" site. So I did some digging, and here is the "neo-Nazi's" GABM promotional page. I neither confirm nor deny that he is a neo-Nazi; I have no idea; make of it what you will.)

Notwithstanding repeated denials from the GABM organizers, Christine Hawkins and Chris Gemmell-Smith, the Australian media and assorted left-wing bloggers continue to caricature the bikini march as a "white-supremacist"' event. It may be a smear campaign, but in fact, the media does have some small grounds to link the march and the Australian white-supremacist movement. To understand how, we must look back to December 2005.

When I first read about the Great Australian Bikini March, originally planned for Dec 9th, I thought this light-hearted assembly was an Aussie way of protesting the much more serious problems which many other countries face today: culture-aassault by extreme Islam. Comparatively speaking, Australia is dealing with their Moslem invasion much better than Europe; but until I read about the background of this story, I did not realize how much extremism (of both white and Arabic fringes) threatens local communities, even in Australia.

Planning the march for this time of the year (deep summer in the Southern Hemisphere) was not a coincidence: December 11th is the first-year anniversary of the infamous Cronulla riot, which began on Cronulla Beach in New South Wales, near Canberra.

A riot in Australia? I never heard about that!

Evidently, before the riots, beach-goers had been attacked and harassed for quite some time by "Middle Eastern youths" and "Arab youths" -- mostly Moslem Lebanese immigrants, or "migrants," as they're called in Australia.

According to the Wikipedia link above, a few days prior to December 11th, 2005, a couple of white Australians were assaulted by a dozen Moslem youths at Cronulla beach; one man was beaten, as was another man who tried to come to his aid; the attackers are said to have shouted "we own this country" during the assault. A few days later, three lifeguards were also assaulted and seriously injured at the same beach, also by a dozen young Moslem males (thought not necessarily the same ones):

On Sunday 4 December 2005, a group of male youths of Middle Eastern descent were playing soccer on a Cronulla beach when the North Cronulla surf lifesavers are reported to have asked them to stop, as it was disturbing other users of the beach. The response from the youths was: "Get off our beach. This is our beach. We own it."

Gerard Henderson, columnist at The Sydney Morning Herald, alleges that the surf lifesavers then provided the youths with "a degree of verbal provocation", and "reminded the south-western suburb inhabitants that they could not swim". Shortly thereafter three surf lifesavers (aged 15, 19 and 20) were confronted by initially four, and then later up to twelve individuals, and in the process were allegedly assaulted. Not all of those present were directly involved in the melee, and several of the larger group were reported to have attempted to break up the altercation.

Police later claimed that there was no apparent racial motive behind that assault. [Isn't it interesting that this is always the first thing they claim? But note that the police don't mention whether there was a religous motive behind the assault.] A teenager was later charged with assault in company occasioning actual bodily harm.

According to Wikipedia, these incidents (and likely the repeated claim that the migrants owned the country) ticked off local Aussies of "Anglo-Celtic" descent. Wikipedia goes on to say that the Australians heard "inflammatory comments" and some rhetoric that could be taken as racist by radio hosts Alan Jones and Steve Price.

The following weekend, more than 5,000 Australian activists showed up at the beach to protest against Moslem violence; but the party atmosphere soon morphed into a mob mentality, or so says Wiki. When a Middle-Eastern looking man was chased to nearby hotel, the actual riot erupted. Several Middle-Eastern looking people, without regard to their actual nationality, were attacked, their property vandalized. Even an ambulance was attacked.

That night and the following few days, "Arab youths" roamed the street, looking for "revenge" on the whites and sporadically attacking people and burning and vandalizing properties. The violence continued to December 15th.

At the tail end of a Christmas carols service at St Joseph the Worker Primary School drive-by shots were fired into cars and parents and primary school students were verbally abused by men described as Middle Eastern. Furthermore, a total of four Churches in Sydney's South-West were attacked during the evening. The Uniting Church hall in Auburn, which is next to an Islamic centre, was set ablaze about 1.30 a.m. (AEDT) on 15 December. Premier Morris Iemma stated that "it may be" linked to the ongoing riots.

Because of this incident, many anti-bikini-march people from the media and the sinister blogosphere accused this year's bikini marchers of being racially motivated, despite the fact that the organizers of GABM put up a stern warning against violence and alcohol consumption during the march.

I do not condone violence against innocent people, regardless of whether they look different or they come from another country. But this kind of response is bound to happen when the government fails to protect its citizens.

If ordinary beach-goers are constantly harassed and assaulted by "Arab youths" who loudly insist that they, not their hosts, own the country or the beach; if the majority Australians believe nothing will ever happen to the assailants; if the cops won't stop the assaults -- then it's hardly surprising that the majority population will take the law into its own hands. Vigilantism is not necessarily a bad thing, if the only alternative is survival of the loudest and most enraged. But when some fool injects racial prejudice into the mix, and innocents are abused, things get more complicated.

I believe the GABM organizers' intention was sincere. Alas that extremists on both sides hijacked the peaceful march. In the racially and religiously tense society of Australia, a peaceful, lighthearted "bikini march" would have done a world of good. And it can still be done... if the Australian peace officers can finally get serious about securing the peace.

I hope they will be able to march peacefully in January.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, December 10, 2006, at the time of 12:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 6, 2006

Ponderous Ponders

Blegging for Blig Blucks , Cultures and Contortions , North Korea Nastiness , Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted , Politics - National , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

First, on the home front: you guys aren't pulling your end. We've been doing our part, publishing good blogposts about exciting topics (Iraq, Iran, the GWOT, Mark Steyn)... but our hits are down.

The way Sitemeter works is that all visits by the same IP address within a 30-minute window are counted as a single visit: that is, if you visit once at 8:00 am and again at 8:27 am, it's not counted as two visits... just one.

But if you wait, twiddling your toes and filing your teeth, until 8:31 am, then visit -- that is counted as a second hit on the old greeter-meter.

Thus, in order to get our count up, so advertisers will rush to pay us money to keep this site flowing through the interether (whenever BlogAds regains consciousness), please to start visiting multiple times per day. You needn't stay long; for example, if you're headed from Captain's Quarters to Power Line, all you need do is first go to Big Lizards, and then continue on to Power Line. Simple as Simon!

If everybody did that, oh, four or five times a day, it wouldn't cost you much time (10 seconds per visit, maybe) -- but we'd be a powerhouse again in no time.

So let's see if we can't raise the bar up to 2,200 or 2,300 per day... and give those lefty bloggers a hiding they'll never remember!


North Korea is currently playing the roll of gangster state: they've been counterfeiting our money, extorting us by threatening to go nuclear if we don't pay them off, and now they seem to be engaged in "massive insurance fraud" (to the tune of $150 million or more).

Well, two can play at that game, Filstrup: I suggest we set the Bureau of Printing and Engraving to produce hundreds of billions of counterfeit North Korean "won" and start passing them all around Southeast Asia. Sure, some currency speculators will also take a hit -- please, God, let it be George Soros! -- but maybe we can completely collapse the DPRK's economy, make their currency worthless... and send a brutal message to the Dear Leader: don't mess with il capo di tutti capi.


I'm wending my way through Mark Steyn's America Alone. On page 78, I found a couple of thought-provoking passages. Here's the first:

Indeed, co-existence is what the Islamists are at war with -- of, if you prefer, pluralism; the idea that different groups can rub along together within the same general neighborhood. And even those who nominally respect the idea tend, on closer examination, to mean by "pluralism" something closer to "subjugation."

This is actually an old conundrum: if a society's greatest principle is tolerance, then are they obliged to tolerate the intolerant?

  • If the answer is Yes, then the society will quickly become an intolerant one, as it's taken over by those who will not tolerate the tolerant;
  • If the answer is No, they will not tolerate the intolerant -- then they're not very ruddy tolerant, are they?

Then there is this one, which is somewhat meatier:

The Islamists incite jihad from American, Canadian, British, European, and Australian mosques, and they get away with it. The West's elites lapse reflexively into twittering over insufficient "respect" and entirely fictional outbreaks of "Islamophobia." The Mounties, the FBI, Scotland Yard, and others are reasonably efficient at breaking up cells and plots, but they're the symptoms, not the disease. It's the ideological pipeline that needs to be dismantled. Through their network of schools and mosques, the Saudis are attempting to make themselvs into a Muslim Vatican -- if not infallible, at any rate the most authoritative voice in the Islamic world. We might have responded to the Wahhabist challenge by distinguishing, as William Tayler did, between Sunni and Shia, Sufi and Salafi, and all the rest, and attempting to exploit the divisions. But as proper Western multiculturalists, we celebrate diversity by lumping them all together as "Islam."

So far (through page 89, at least), Steyn hasn't developed this theme; but I think it points us towards one more way we can fight the war of Jihadism vs. Americanism.

Steyn is correct that there are many radical mosques in the United States; I've heard it said (I don't know if this is true) that there are more militant mosques in America than any other Western nation. These radical mosques contain radical imams who preach violent jihad as a matter of course.

Thus, for national security reasons, we should be surveilling every last one of these militant mosques, determined by our own intelligence operations (that is, sending loyal American Moslems into the mosques to listen to the sermons). From what I understand, they hardly hide their inflammatory opinions under a burning bush: it shouldn't be hard to decide that a mosque is "radical" if the imam says the congregation should financially support Hamas and encourage their children to become mall-martyrs.

Get warrants when there's court-level evidence; but do it under the president's plenary power as Commander in Chief when the probable cause is military level but not civil-court level.

Regardless of how we justify it, let's tap their phones, bug their conference rooms, tail their employees. Let's read their mail, ghost their hard drives, and track their bank accounts.

We should have been doing this for the last five years -- and maybe we have and the New York Times just hasn't gotten that leak yet. But somehow I doubt it.

Sure, the Democrats will fly up out of their seats, full nine feet high and higher. They're rush to commit savage acts of "oversight" on those clandestine agencies that are engaged in this "domestic spying."

Heh. Excellent... we send administration representatives (like Tony Snow) out to the Sunday talk shows to say that they neither confirm nor deny that we're doing this -- wink -- but really, Mr. and Mrs. All-American, don't you think we should be? And why are the Democrats so concerned about the "right" of fire-breathing Wahhabi imams to call for assassinations and bombings in Amerca, but not so much about your rights not to be blown up at work, at the mall, and not to have your kids blown up at school, like in Beslan?

I can just see Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI, 100%), sweating bullets on Anderson Cooper 360° or being grilled by Chris Matthews on Hardball, trying to explain why the Democrats don't want to know whether there are any terrorist mosques in America. Maybe the Superglue would break, and those blessed glasses would finally slip off his bulbous nose!

It can only help us to get a fight going between Bush and the congressional Democrats on just how far we should go to protect the American people. It's a heck of a lot better than drawing a line in the sand over minimum wage.

Oh, and by the way... we might just learn enough to be able to deport some of these Saudi-funded imams, or maybe stop a terrorist plot or two. That's almost as good as putting Democrats on the spot!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 6, 2006, at the time of 5:17 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 5, 2006


Cultures and Contortions , Future of Civilization , Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In the last two posts on Big Lizards, we discussed demography, democracy, and Americanism:

  • Reading Between the Steyns: Little Endians and Big Endians
    Regardless of the Realists and liberals at the Iraq Study Group -- and the forest-missing microwarriors and isolationists now populating the conservative movement -- defeating al-Qaeda is an important but very minor goal. The true war for survival of the West, the GWOT, will be vision battling vision for the soul of Mankind: and either Islam or Individualism will win.
  • Borg Culture: Steyn, Jihad, and the End of Predestinarianism:

    Americanism, by whatever name, is the only ideology ready to hand that we can export to counter the death-cult of militant jihadism and win the war for the soul of the world. We mustn't be afraid to shove raw, naked Americanism down the throats of the rest of the world... it's the physic for the pathogen of jihad.

All right, we know what to do and why we need to do it; but how do we do it? How can we "shove raw, naked Americanism down the throats of the rest of the world?"

Let's start with the fundamentals. I have always thought that the best way to teach any subject, from civics to calculus, is to take a historical approach: things happen for reasons; seeing the historical progression makes it a lot easier to understand what we do and why it works (or doesn't work).

Take affirmative action. You can't understand why it's a controversy, why we're even talking about it, without knowing about Jim Crow laws; and you can't understand those without first learning about Reconstruction; and for that, you need to know about the Civil War; and understanding the Civil War requires an examination of slavery; and that takes us all the way back to the Constitutional Convention and the great compromise.

What do foreigners learn about us by this? They learn that we really take seriously the concept of all people being equal under the law; that we have struggled to lift everyone up; that sometimes we go to far trying to help the underdog and need to get back to first principles. And in subtext, it shows how freedom of speech really works, that we're free to criticize the government, and how a real dialog can develop because of this freedom.

In other words, to show the truth about America -- hence Americanism -- we must teach American history to the rest of the world... most of which is woefully ignorant of the subject. (So are most Americans; but believe me, as little as our citizens know about our own history, people in Japan and Italy -- let alone in Iraq and Yemen -- know even less.)

But how can we teach American history to people who live in foreign countries? Must we invade and conquer their school systems, assuming they even have any? Fortunately, there is an easier way...

Television has become the universal language of the world. Even villages in remote locations often have access to a television (perhaps only one in the chief's hut); and certainly most people who live in cities, even in Islamic countries, have TVs. So the idea here would be for the United States to disseminate programming that teaches American history.

Often, the real history is very much at odds with what jihadist or totalitarian governments tell their people about the "Great Satan;" so why would any of these countries allow such broadcasts? The answer is that they wouldn't... so we do it without their consent -- and if they don't like it, too damn bad. Part of fighting a war of ideas is that we cannot be fastidious about the "sovereign right" of nations to malign us and suppress the truth about America's astonishing contribution to the world.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, a reader of the Anniston Star wrote this in a letter to the editor:

The next time you feel doubts about the direction of this country, remember this:

The only two defining forces that have ever been willing to die for you are: (1) Jesus Christ and (2) the American soldier! One died for your soul and the other for your freedom -- even to read this!

I don't know if this is original with James W. Anderson from Talladega, Alabama (Vietnam 1967-68), or if he heard or read it somewhere; but I'm happy to give him credit until another claimant comes along. It's an amazing insight, no matter who originated it... and one that virtually nobody outside the United States really understands. So no pussyfooting.

There are several nuts-and-bolts considerations for this project:

  • The shows themselves cannot be dry, academic productions; we can make a signal available, but we obviously cannot force people to watch it.

Now, there's no way that a documentary produced by the State Department could be anything but video death... so we need to hire real professional writers, directors, and producers instead. Better yet, a wealth of such shows has already been produced, from documentaries like the Day the Universe Changed and the Adams Chronicles to movies like Gettysburg and the Patriot. We could go a long way just broadcasting these excellent productions.

  • We cannot rely on people speaking English well enough to be able to follow such movies and television series; they must be translated and dubbed.

And by translated, I mean into every language necessary to spread Americanism throughout the world, from Polish to Croatian to Arabic to Pashtun to Farsi to Nubian, and so forth. This must be treated as a major national-security program -- with money and manpower to match. I'd like to see the XVOA (eXtreme Voice of America) funded as well as NASA is ($20 billion), or at least the National Science Foundation ($5½ billion).

In addition, we need to find native speakers of each of these languages, preferably with acting experience, for dubbing. For obscure languages that are hard to find here (not that many, with the number of immigrants we have from everywhere!) we may need to find native speakers and train them to act. As with Bullwinkle and Rocky, each actor may need to play multiple voices.

And we need to pay top dollar... so that aspiring actors are attracted to this project even with the competition.

  • We need to put people on the task of finding every possible way to disseminate these dubbed programs everywhere in the world.

Buying a channel (or several) on every satellite TV system is just the beginning; we also need to find a way around governments that go around smashing satellite receivers and jamming transmissions. If necessary (and I think it often is), we should take out jamming stations in enemy countries with cruise missiles. Let 'em scream... what are they going to do about it, declare war on us?

What we're talking about is not just Voice of America, but a super-sized, hyperthyroid, 24/7 American history and propaganda machine. Our biggest worry is the Democrats, who may decide this is the perfect venue to spread anti-Americanism faster than ever before; for this reason, I suggest keeping the XVOA in the hands of the Administration, which is much less likely than Congress to be overtly hostile to the country, even if a Democrat is elected.

Every aspect of American history illuminates one or more elements of Americanism, showing where we came from, what we've gone through, and who we really are. This would do far more for our image in the world (including the ummah) than sending billions to Bangladesh the next time they have a flood (that would be next rainy season) or to Thailand the next time they have a Tsunami (that would be next earthquake season): even when we do that, the local governments lie to the people and tell them all the rescue efforts and food and medical aid came from themselves, not from us.

It would do much more to spread Americanism than would tens of billions spent on foreign aid -- nearly all of which goes to dictators who, again, disburse it as if it came from their own pockets.

And it would be far more effective countering jihadism than the haphazard mix of "American" soft-core porn movies and TV jiggle shows -- from American Pie to Baywatch to Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold -- that inundate the world, showing the worst aspects of America exaggerated beyond all reason by Hollywood's addiction to sensationalism. (At least, it would show them that we have a better side.)

Visual imagery is powerful, and movies already influence people everywhere. Why shouldn't America, which invented motion pictures and is the most relentless purveyor of them, be able to use them more effectively than jihadis to "sell" our ideology?

This is just the first cut; does any of you have other ideas for spreading the ideology of individualism, freedom, and capitalism?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 5, 2006, at the time of 5:16 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 4, 2006

Borg Culture: Steyn, Jihad, and the End of Predestinarianism

Cultures and Contortions , Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

A commenter on our previous post, Robert Schwartz, quoted a fellow who writes at the Asia Times online under the improbable name of "Spengler" (I cannot find out his full name):

The Islamic world now views the pontiff as an existential threat, and with reason. Jihad is not merely the whim of a despotic divinity, as the pope implied. It is much more: jihad is the fundamental sacrament of Islam, the Muslim cognate of the Lord's Supper in Christianity, that is, the unique form of sacrifice by which the individual believer communes with the Transcendent. To denounce jihad on theological grounds is a blow at the foundations of Islam, in effect a papal call for the conversion of the Muslims.

But is this really true? We all know Moslems who do not believe in or practice jihad as the terrorists believe in it and practice it. Besides my personal acquaintances, which it may not be fair to cite (since you don't know them), there are also well known people like the fellows at Iraq the Model, as well as those not well known but whose existence everyone knows about: Moslem American soldiers, CIA officers, policemen, firemen, doctors, lawyers, and shopkeepers -- who don't, as a rule, advocate or support jihad as the Taliban or the Iranian mullahs do.

So it is possible, even though jihadism is a very powerful ideology that has taken control of a large portion of the ummah. Isn't there some ideology that can infect Islam as thoroughly as has jihadism, a "counter-ideology" that is positive and life-affirming, not a death cult, and which does not require Moslems to convert to Christianity?

Yes, there is... and we all know it, even if we rarely think of it in those terms.

Transforming jihad

The most important point to bear in mind is that such questions as the actual meaning of jihad are answered by cultural, not religious force: I don't believe that the jihadis in Iraq or Gaza believe in militant jihad because they've been religously persuaded by theological argument -- but because all their neighbors believe it.

The way to change that belief is to create swaths of territory (real estate) in which the cultural belief is that jihad is an individual inner struggle against sin, rather than an external war against sinners; a struggle that each individual must freely choose, or it's meaningless; and most important, one that can have immediate material benefits to each individual person, rather than nothing but the promise of eventual "paradise" in the afterlife.

We must create a large territory within the ummah where everyone is surrounded by others who believe the same thing... thus, by the natural human desire to avoid cognitive dissonance, the psychological pressure will be towards sanity.

Ideology and counter-ideology

But how do you get those core swaths in the first place? You must beat down militant jihadism with that counter-ideology I mentioned above; and that requires a very powerful, adaptable, and cohesive counter-ideology; we must directly counter jihadism with an equally strong (or superior) ideology which does as good a job of promoting a sense of community and pulling together as jihadism does.

This is difficult to find but not impossible. In fact, we already have just such a counter-ideology:

  • Individualism, as contrary as it may sound, is part of that ideology, as we've seen in our own country. By vigorously supporting the rights of the individual -- which Europe, Japan, and Canada don't support -- America has become the most cohesive and communal country in Christendom. This despite frequent denunciations of individualism by, e.g., the pope and other European religious leaders of Christianity.
  • Freedom is another component of that counter-ideology; and again, we find more of that in the United States than in any other country.
  • Finally, capitalism, which is the greatest engine of wealth creation ever invented, is absolutely critical... because the hope of wealth by individual effort -- capitalism -- as opposed to wealth by tribal or political affiliation (socialism), is vital in any war that hopes to defeat "holy warriors," who primarily appeal to the poor by saying, in effect, "join our tribe and we will support you."

Individualism plus freedom plus capitalism... we already have a catchy name for that ideology, which has served as a counter-ideology for 230 years against jihadism, against Communism, against Fascism and Naziism, against imperialism, and again monarchism: we call it Americanism.

Ideological synthesis: Americanism

Note that Americanism is neither religious nor secular but can exist in both kinds of subculture: evangelical Christians here still believe in Americanism, as do people like myself who are not religious at all, and in fact come from a non-Christian cultural background as well. And so do American Moslems; Americanism does not require giving up Islam in favor of Christianity (pace, Ann Coulter!)

The rest of the "West" -- Europe, Canada, Japan, and Israel -- have no unique ideology that binds them together as a people the way the combination of freedom, individual rights, and capitalism do here; the French have nothing to counter jihadism when it comes a-courtin'.

So our first great task is to convert our allies to Americanism (which will probably require a different name!); that alone would likely give them enough hope for the future that they start breeding again, which is an excellent start for our cultural defense. But it has a more immediate effect: Americanism is confident enough to believe that it can convert those who immigrate here, what we call "assimilation." But assimilation is a two-way function: American culture is Borg culture. We add bits and pieces of new cultures to American culture, and in return, we Americanize new immigrants.

What else can we say about the power of Americanism?

  • America is far richer with a more robust economy than any other Western country;
  • We as a culture (despite tolerating individuals who don't fit that profile) retain a vigorous warrior spirit that leads us to savagely defend what we see to be ours;
  • We remain intensely curious and pursue science and techological improvement more than any other nation on the planet;
  • We think of ourselves as Americans first, everything else second... even liberals who are in fact internationalists still must do ritual obeisance to calling themselves Americans ("hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue");
  • We are the most religiously free country on the planet -- the First Amendment guarantees it -- as well as the most religous free country on the planet (that is, we have more churchgoers than any other country that does not compel religious observance);
  • And we at least breed at the replacement level -- though not evenly: even there, it's precisely those areas that most exemplify Americanism (individualism + freedom + capitalism), the so-called "red" states and "red" communities, that breed at significantly more than replacement rate; and it's the "blue" areas that are the least Americanist and the most Europeanist that don't really hold up their end.

These are all unmistakable signs of a vibrant, confident, and growing cultural identity -- which can only be explained by the planetary success of the ideology we're calling Americanism. There is no other explanation: we have the same language as countries that are not so successful (Great Britain, Canada, Grenada); we have the same religions as other failed countries (Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Scandanavia); and we have a hodge-podge of many races living here, along with polyglot millions for whom English is a second language.

We have the same democratic government -- though with a uniquely American flavor, a constitutional republic as opposed to a parliamentary democracy -- as the entire rest of the West; but even there, the ideology came first and propelled our Founding Fathers to create the first democracy in an era of kings as a representative, constitutional republic. Those democracies that followed (leave England out for a moment) tended to organize themselves along the lines of the French Revolution... which has turned out to be far less successful a model than ours.

(England's Parliament goes all the way back to the nobles who wrested some control from the king in Magna Carta, the "great charter;" it is, like the American system, sui generis. However, it's still too close to the continental model and has proven less able to maintain its distinct cultural identity than Americanism. Propinquity may play a role here: we were protected from the European cultural decline by a great ocean.)

The distinctions between America and the world are nontrivial and nonrandom:

  • We are the most capitalistic nation on the planet, and we're the richest;
  • We are the freest country, and we're the country with the most immigration;
  • We have the most religious freedom of any country, yet we have the most freely embraced religion;
  • We are the most individualist country -- and the country with the greatest percent of citizens ready and willing to defend it.

That last point is not a contradiction, though most throughout the world would think so: individualism leads to a greater sense of community than does collectivism... it's not a contradiction, but it is a paradox. For example, the more individualist a community, the more charitable are the individuals in it... because they see charity as the duty of individuals, not the State.

This extends upward: even when government action is required, real Americans prefer that action be conducted at the lowest possible level of government, where we have the most control: city instead of county, county instead of state, state instead of national... and always national over international. Americanism is the ideology of self-control, self-governance, and self-sufficiency. It is ultimately empowering, while jihadism is ultimately infantalizing.

American culture as Borg culture: resistance is futile

Many anti-immigrant politicians (such as Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-CO, 100%) and pseudo-politicians (like Pat Buchanan) push the false meme that Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants "don't assimilate." This is complete nonsense. There is always a loud and angry fringe element that marches in the streets waving Mexican flags... but look at the numbers: in the biggest rally against the House bill that made illegal immigration illegal (I'm being unfair here just for a giggle), they got a few hundred thousand people -- most of whom were not waving Mexican flags.

This in a county that has literally millions of Hispanics, most either directly or ancestrally from Mexico. The population of Los Angeles County is about 10 million; there are 4.65 million Hispanics and only 3 million non-Hispanic whites. So for the first rally, which the Aztlan separatists successfully portrayed as just anti-bill, not anti-American, they still only got 10% of the Hispanic population (at most) to show up and march.

Subsequent marches, after the anti-Americanism of the march leaders was made clear, drew far fewer participants, closer to 1%. And even there, we're just talking about marching; how many Hispanic separatist terrorists are there? Answer: zero.

Our immigrants assimilate, and they partially assimilate (change) the culture; that confidence in our own ideology is one of the things that makes us strong: in Osama's terms, we act like the strong horse, we have confidence that we're the strong horse, therefore we are the strong horse... even with the Democratic Party weighing us down.

There are always exceptions, and of course, some immigrants never Americanize. But unlike in Europe, even if the immigrants themselves resist -- resistance is ultimately futile, because their children belong to us. In France, the children of Algerian Moslem immigrants are much more anti-France and jihadist than their parents (it's the kids leading the French intifada, not the parents); but in America, it works just the opposite: each succeeding generation is more American and less inclined towards the "old country" than the previous.

Expand that outward: there is nothing magical about our mountains, our rivers, or our plains that is any different that the geographical features of other countries; the thing that converts Irish and Italians, Canadians and Cambodians, Nicaraguans and Nigereans is the ideology of Americanism... and the ideology can be exported.

The exception proves the pudding: Americanism, by whatever name, is the only ideology ready to hand that we can export to counter the death-cult of militant jihadism and win the war for the soul of the world. We mustn't be afraid to shove raw, naked Americanism down the throats of the rest of the world... it's the physic for the pathogen of jihad.

The way forward

This is the way forward, to borrow a phrase that will probably permeate the Baker-Hamilton report (and already trips from the lips of National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley almost every time he goes on a Sunday yak show): export the "stronger horse," Americanism, to the rest of the world -- starting with our new allies in Eastern Europe and moving to our old allies in Western Europe, thence beyond the pale to Africa, Araby, and the Orient. Americanism comes ready to adapt to any other culture, any other country: you can have a capitalist, free, and individualist Frenchism, Germanism, Britishism, and even Iraqism, if we but try.

We have right now one of the most Americanist presidents of recent years; George W. Bush isn't as good a communicator as Ronald Reagan, but he's every bit as Americanist. By contrast, BIll Clinton and George H.W. Bush, as well as Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, and of course Jimmy Carter, were more Europeanist: they all looked to Europe for a lead; they truly believed international organizations (the U.N. or even NATO) were the wave of the future; and I can't imagine any of them believing that "America is the greatest nation on God's green Earth," to rip a phrase from Michael Medved.

But I'm utterly certain that both Reagan and Bush-43 believe (and believed) exactly that, deep in their souls. That, ultimately, is why I do not fear that Bush will use the ISG report as a fig leaf to cover retreat from Iraq, or even from the mission to democratize that country: for George W. Bush, renouncing that policy would be the same as renouncing his religious faith and becoming an atheist.

And that he will not do... no matter how much "pressure" the Democrats bring to bear.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 4, 2006, at the time of 5:54 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Reading Between the Steyns: Little Endians and Big Endians

Cultures and Contortions , Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The Discordians were (are?) a crazy bunch of weirdos who had some truly great ideas. Led by Malaclypse the Younger (usually Gregory Hill) and Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst (typically Kerry Thornley), and later joined by science-fiction author Robert Anton Wilson (usually writing as Mordecai Malignatus), they invented a whole new religion disguised as an elaborate joke disguised as a religion.

They also invented the Law of Fives, the Sacred Chao (a "chao" -- pronounced cow -- is a single unit of chaos) with its associated Hodge and Podge, and the myth of Eris and the golden apple. (Well, they didn't actually invent the last; the ancient Greeks did. But the Discordians pontificated about it a lot.)

They also invented a great game called Po that I've used endlessly to my amusement and enlightenment (and to my neighbors' annoyance and reporting to the authorities). The idea is that you take two contradictory concepts, say "fire" and "water." Then you write them in a line with the word "po" in between.

Po stands for some relationship: this begins the game, which is to find what relationship the po stands for and what is the result of the equation. In this case, we have "fire po water," and the most obvious answer is that po =
"heats," and the solution is "steam." You could say this game of po gave us the industrial age, when humans realized that by superheating water, they could produce steam that would drive steam engines.

(The Discordians would point out that po could also equal "puts out," and the result of "fire po water" would be a soggy campfire. Some solutions are more useful than others.)

Well, the past is prologue. (And what follows is epilogue, since there is no actual content to this post, at least nothing worth reading.) I have been metaphorically devouring Mark Steyn's book America Alone: the End of the World as We Know It; and I have also just read the New York Times' breathless speculation about what will be in the Baker-Hamilton report from the Iraq Study Group and how the president will respond to it.

Steyn, the demography predestinarian, believes that the plummeting birthrate of the West (minus the United States) will inevitably (or at least barring a miracle) lead to the countries of continental Europe being denuded of Europeans, who will be replaced by Moslems, bringing Europe fully into the ummah.

The Times is jazzed about its own prediction -- based upon leaks to them from "commission members" and "officials familiar with" the report (excuse our presumption in assuming that those commission members willing to leak to the New York Times are probably in Lee Hamilton's group of Democrats, rather than James Baker's cabal of "Realist" Republicans).

These leaks to the Times indicate the ISG will recommend we abandon the idea of democratizing the Middle East and withdraw to the "Realist" position (now apparently shared by some of the lads at Power Line) of sitting in our Iraq-based Fortress of Solitude, striking at al-Qaeda when they mass together, and otherwise allowing Iraq to turn into a Shiite dictatorship... but an America-friendly dictatorship (hah). I don't know that the ISG will suggest this course, but they may well.

I know this post is jumping around like a liberal ducking facts, but I'm actually going somewhere with this. Using the game of Po, the secret to my widespread failure, I get this: "Steyn po ISG." The po in this case is "eats," and the result anent Iraq is this very interesting formulation:

In the long run of the war on jihadism, planting a stable democracy in Iraq is far more important than defeating al-Qaeda.

Take a moment and think about that: it's the exact opposite of the Power Line position, which has become the mainstream position: that our only legitimate interest in Iraq is stomping al-Qaeda in Iraq; promoting stable democracy -- or even stopping the gangland war between militias and death squads -- is an irrelevant conceit that we must abandon, in our Realist way, for the good, old-fashioned, .time-honored, and extraordinarily successful tactic of allying with certain dictators against other dictators.

I think I can prove it. Suppose we succeed in destroying the organization formerly led by Musab Zarqawi and now by Hamza Muhajir, but we allow the bloody massacres to continue until the Sunni of Iraq flee into Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. This would leave nothing but Kurdistan in the north -- and in central and south Iraq, a Shia-dominated Iraqi government under the thumb of Muqtada Sadr, hence under the grandthumb of Hezbollah and the great-grandthumb of Iran. Haven't we just jumped out of the pot and into the kettle?

In the short view, if southern Iraq simply becomes part of Greater Iran, we have just helped our greatest non-Communist enemy to become vastly stronger.

But in the long view, it's even worse. If Steyn is right that Europe is committing societal suicide, and white Christian Europeans are abdicating sovereignty over the continent to the influx of Moslems... then how can we stop it? There are only two ways:

  • We could possibly find some inducement for Europeans to have more babies. This is true terra incognita: the problem is not physical impotence but the loss of belief in the future, which leads (Steyn argues persuasively) to a turning inward towards the present, towards pure narcissism: live for today, and damn tomorrow!
  • Alternatively, we could go the American route (which seems to be working here): rather than stop the substitution of Moslems for Christians in Europe, we could try to create a new Moslem ideology to compete with Islamism and jihad. So far as I can think, the only ideology that could prove strong enough is freedom, individualism, and true capitalism.

This way, as Moslems sweep into control in Europe, they will have effectively been Westernized: this is Islam shorn of its totalitarianism, its tribalism, and its worship of death over life.

What difference does it make to drive al-Qaeda out of Iraq if they just regenerate in Sudan, Pakistan/Kashmir, or Saudi Arabia? For that matter, so what even if we wipe al-Qaeda out of existence entirely -- if that just cleans the docks for Iranian-Hezbollah jihadis instead? As Caiaphas sings in Jesus Christ, Superstar, "we need a more permanent solution to our problem."

Al-Qaeda is a symptom; the symptom is itself dangerous and must be treated... but we'll never be safe, in the Middle East, Europe, or here in America, unless we likewise cure the disease itself. And the disease is a death-cult ideology that is sweeping the fastest-growing and most aggressive culture on the planet.

We need to introduce anti-jihadism leukocytes into Islam's circulatory system. I have actually been arguing this point since long before Big Lizards began, during a long-running discussion, "Are We There Yet?," in the Heinlein Journal in the 1990s; and I continued this discussion in the first week of this blog in my post Where Are All the Moslem Methodists?

Simply put, we need to break the link between Islam and jihad. Just as Christendom finally broke the link between Christianity, crusades, and combustion of heretics, the ummah must do the same -- or World War IV will dwarf its three predecessors, each of which has been more horrific than the last.

We would probably win; but what world would we inherit as our prize? Would enough people survive to maintain civilization? Alternatively, the Moslems could "win" -- but the cost would be even greater, as it's only the science, medicine, technology, and creativity of the Western world that keeps Islam afloat. There are 1.2 billion Moslems today; but during Islam's "Golden Age" (A.D. 700-1400 -- and yes, the irony of the dating is delicious), the entire human population of the earth never exceeded 300 million, which is about all that a pre-technological planet can sustain.

Thus, even if the jihadis succeeded in converting everyone to a Taliban-style Islam, the cost would be the destruction of 75% of all Moslems on Earth. The ummah would consist of scattered, disconnected villages dotting the otherwise unpeopled wilderness. Oh, joy.

Regardless of the Realists and liberals at the Iraq Study Group -- and the forest-missing microwarriors and isolationists now populating the conservative movement -- defeating al-Qaeda is an important but very minor goal. The true war for survival of the West, the GWOT, will be vision battling vision for the soul of Mankind: and either Islam or Individualism will win.

We need to turn our attention to that war; and for that reason, Mark Steyn (whether he realizes it or not) makes a wonderful case for the expansive goal of President Bush to plant a functioning democracy in the heart of the Arab-Moslem-jihadi Middle East.

Nothing less will save our children's children's children.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 4, 2006, at the time of 4:30 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

© 2005-2013 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved