Friday, February 06, 2015

Cruising the Web

So President Obama decided that it was time he defended Islam by reminding Christians of their own crimes against civilization during the Crusades, Inquisition, and how Christians defended slavery and Jim Crow with the Bible. That's all true but, as Noah Rothman points out, Obama's discourse contradicted his central argument that Islamic jihadis are not representative of Islam.
Entering into arguments over which great religion holds the most defensible claim to moral purity is often a waste of effort. What is noteworthy in Obama’s comments is not his attempt to establish an equivalency between Christian and Islamic violence, but that he has undermined his oft-repeated claim that ISIS and its cadre of supporters are unrepresentative of their faith.

It’s strange that so few see the contradiction inherent in this assertion. The president, and many of his allies on the left, frequently trip over themselves to emphasize – correctly, as it happens – that ISIS’s acts of brutality are not archetypical Islamic behavior. The insurgency’s most recent atrocity, the immolation of a captured Jordanian pilot, is apparently a violation of Islamic norms according to even Koranic scholars in the Middle East.

But to assert this and in the same breath suggest that Christianity was also a violent, expansionist religion a mere 800 years ago is a contradiction. Why make this comparison if ISIS is not representative of Islam? Isn’t the concession in this claim that those who commit acts of violence in the name of their religion, regardless of whether those acts are supported by a majority of coreligionists, that they are representative of their faith? Therefore, by perfunctorily nodding in the direction of a moral equivalency between Christian and Islamic violence, isn’t the president invalidating his own claim that ISIS, Boko Haram, Ansar al-Sharia, al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Sayyaf, and a host of other fundamentalist Islamic terror groups are agents of a violent strain of the Islamic faith?

A tired liberal shibboleth holds that the strain of violent militancy that is self-evidently more prevalent among Muslims today than among other religious adherents is not historically noteworthy. This is not to say that Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, &c. are incapable of violence, though that must be plainly stated in order to satisfy the willfully obtuse. The president’s decision to link medieval Christian violence committed in the name of their faith to the atrocities perpetrated by Islamic terrorists today, however, has eroded the foundations of his argument that religion plays no role in the global war against Islamist terrorism.
John Hinderaker points out more of the historical ignorance portrayed by Obama. As I had been thinking, Hinderaker wonders if Obama is including Jews among the religious groups who shouldn't get on their high horse and worry about Islamic terrorism.
ctually, slavery might well be widespread today if it were not for Christianity. Until the early 19th century, there had never been an abolitionist movement. Slavery had existed from the beginning of time, seemingly, and was widely accepted. It still is in many Islamic areas. The abolitionist movement was 100% driven by Christian faith, with a strong assist from Jews.

As for Jim Crow, I am not sure what Obama is talking about. Jim Crow was supported by the Democratic Party, but I don’t recall anyone claiming Biblical authority for it. The civil rights movement that ended Jim Crow was mostly a Christian movement–just ask Martin Luther King–again with a major Jewish component.
Obama told us yesterday that violence is "not unique to one group or one religion." Maybe not in history, but certainly it is today.
There is only one religion whose adherents are slaughtering entire villages, torturing children, burning a pilot alive in a cage. Obama described the outrages not two minutes earlier. What was his point? Apparently there was none. The only conclusion he draws is that we shouldn’t get on our “high horse.”

Earlier, as quoted above, Obama described Islamic violence and terrorism as “faith being twisted and distorted.” If I were a Muslim, I might be interested in whether the appalling actions of ISIS and Boko Haram represent a fair reading of the words of the Prophet. But I am not a Muslim, and frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the words of the Prophet. What I want to know is, how can we kill them? Or is that what Obama means by getting on our “high horse?”

More insipidity follows, but I want to note just one more disgusting bit of hypocrisy. Obama went on at great length about Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen who has been under arrest in Iran since 2012. Obama described his recent meeting with Abedini’s wife and children, and said that “we’re doing everything we can to bring him home.” But this is false. Obama has been widely criticized for failing to demand Pastor Abedini’s release as a condition of nuclear talks with Iran. Jay Sekulow, for example, wrote in November 2013:
Even after President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case directly to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran responded not by releasing Saeed but by transferring him to an even worse prison — a prison full of murderers and rapists, where his life is in danger at every moment.

The Iranian regime rebuked the president of the United States, and we’re now supposed to believe it’s acting in good faith?

President Obama is now trying to spin our stunning act of weakness as a breakthrough for peace. In fact, we were so weak that (according to the administration) the State Department did not even raise Pastor Saeed during the nuclear negotiations.

Mark Steyn examines how the "banality of evil" has been replaced by the "glamour of evil."
The Germans didn't have social media, but they had newsreels, and Hitler knew enough not to make genocide available to Pathé or "The March of Time". He had considerations both domestic and foreign. Pre-Wannsee, in Poland and elsewhere, German troops had been ordered to shoot Jewish prisoners in cold blood, and their commanders reported back to Berlin that too many soldiers had found it sickening and demoralizing. So the purpose of "the final solution" was to make mass murder painless, at least for the perpetrators - more bureaucratic, removed, bloodless.

As for foreign considerations, Germany expected to be treated as a civilized power by its enemies, and that would not have been possible had they been boasting about genocide.

Seventy years on, the Islamic State has slipped free of even these minimal constraints. They advertize their barbarism to the world, because what's the downside? Let's say the guys who burned Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh are one day captured by Americans. They can look forward to a decade or two of a soft, pampering sojourn in the US justice system, represented by an A-list dream-team that'll string things along until the administration figures it'll cut its losses and ship them to Qatar in exchange for some worthless deserter.

As for the upside, "the banality of evil" may have its appeal for lower-middle-class Teuton bureaucrats, but the glamor of evil is a far more potent and universal brand. The Islamic State has come up with the ultimate social-media campaign: evil goes viral! At some level German conscripts needed to believe they were honorable soldiers in an honorable cause, no different from the British or Americans. But ISIS volunteers are signing up explicitly for the war crimes. The Islamic State burned Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh alive not only to kill him but to inspire the thousands of ISIS fanbois around the globe, like Moussa Coulibaly, the guy who stabbed three French policemen outside a Jewish school in Nice this week.

For many of its beneficiaries, modern western life is bland, undemanding and vaguely unsatisfying. Some seek a greater cause, and turn to climate change or LGBTQWERTY rights. But others want something with a little more red meat to it. Jihad is primal in a way that the stodgy multiculti relativist mush peddled by Obama isn't. And what the Islamic State is offering is Jihad 2.0, cranking up the blood-lust and rape and sex slavery and head-chopping and depravity in ways that make Osama-era al-Qaeda look like a bunch of pantywaists.

Success breeds success. The success of evil breeds darker evil. And the glamorization of evil breeds ever more of those "recent Muslim converts" and "lone wolves" and "self-radicalized extremists" in the news. That's a Big Idea - a bigger idea, indeed, than Communism or Nazism. Islam, as we know, means "submission". But Xtreme-Sports Hyper-Islam, blood-soaked and baying, is also wonderfully liberating, offering the chance for dull-witted, repressed young men to slip free of even the most basic societal restraints. And, when the charms of the open road in Headchoppistan wear thin, your British and Canadian and Australian and European welfare checks will still be waiting for you on the doormat back home.

Victor Davis Hanson, who has forgotten more about history than Obama seems to have ever known excoriates Obama's moral equivalence.
The problem with all such high-horse declarations by Obama is his continual omission of historical context and, in this case, his conflation of the frequent with the rare. The Crusades began in 1095, almost a millennium ago; the Inquisition in 1478, now over 500 years past. When the president says “people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” he should remember that all religions at the time committed terrible deeds that shock the modern sense of morality — given the savage wars between Christendom and Islam, and the religious purifications and civil discord common to all the religious factional strife that played out, violently, in accord with the ethos of the times.

Slavery was outlawed in the U.S. in 1865. Jim Crow ended officially a half-century ago. Indentured servitude, however, continues, almost exclusively among some Islamic groups in the Middle East and Africa. The caste system and ethnic and religious tribalism that institutionalized discrimination and second-class status, quite akin to Jim Crow, persist in places in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. I doubt today whether a Jew of any nationality would be allowed to immigrate and buy real estate in too many corners of the Islamic Middle East. Outside of the West, women and homosexuals are often treated no differently than in the Seventh Century.

In fact, Christian countries were the first to legally end the age-old human sin of the slave trade, and the first to outlaw slavery’s continuance. The president, is fond of historical sloppiness and moral equivalence (cf. the Cairo Speech). But what is the point of citing sins of 1,000, 500, 150, or 50 years ago, without acknowledging 1) that such pathologies still continue today outside the West, especially in the world of Islam, and 2) that Christianity had a unique role in ending these wrongs?

So the question for the president is, why does such medieval violence persist to a much greater degree among so many Islamic extremists in the present world than among most zealots of other religions? (This is an empirical statement. Cf., for instance, the nature of recent global terror attacks in resources such as the Global Terrorism Database). And why search the distant past for examples of moral equivalence, unless the present does not offer suitable data?

Did Churchill point to the excesses of Oliver Cromwell, or did Daladier to the French Revolution, to remind their contemporaries that National Socialism in Germany was not doing anything differently in the 1930s than had their own countries in the distant past? Those of the 1930s who sought to make such facile comparisons between their own past and Germany’s present were written off as appeasers.

Areas of Central and Latin America are as poor as the Middle East, but Christian liberation theologists, unlike the Islamic State, are not beheading and burning prisoners alive to advance their redistributionist cause. Chinese imperialists and colonialists have absorbed Tibet, but the Dalai Lama is not sending suicide bombers into China. The children of East Prussians expelled from 1945-47 are not suiting up with suicide vests to attack Poles. Impoverished Hindu extremists, angry at centuries of British colonialism, do not hijack planes and ram them into high-rises in British cities. Jews are not blowing up cartoonists and satirists in Paris and Germany who deny or caricature the Holocaust.

Matthew Continetti is fed up with Hillary Clinton's apparent intention to run for president based on her moral status as a grandmother.
Let me just state unequivocally that grandmothers do not know best. They may have insights into childrearing. They may be specialists in their chosen field of study or in their professions. They may even possess wisdom from their accumulated years. The grandmothers in my family are all wonderful people and I love them very much so Mom please do not write me complaining about this piece. Nevertheless, joining AARP and cashing a Social Security check does not grant an individual moral authority or omniscience or membership in a protected class. Sarah Palin is a grandmother. Does Hillary think she knows best, too?

A defensible statement about grandmothers is that some of them know more than some of us on occasion. To whom that statement applies is often a matter of subjective judgment. When the grandmother we are talking about is Hillary Clinton, she actually knows a great deal less than others, in my opinion, about how to restore America’s place in the world, improve economic growth, and modernize the welfare state. No disrespect. I’m sure she dotes on Charlotte. It’s just a political disagreement.

“Who doesn’t like grandmothers?” asks Hillary supporter Jerry Crawford. To answer this question we must distinguish between grandmothers who spoil their grandkids and grandmothers who use their four-month-old granddaughter as a prop in their decades-long quest to treat the rest of us like children. Indeed Jerry you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like the first sort of grandma. Last I checked however one of the two major political parties in the United States is dedicated, and has been for some time, to not liking the other sort. And this antagonism is unlikely to change as long as Hillary Clinton represents Boomer liberalism and refrains from violence against her husband.

On some level though I suppose it is reasonable for Clinton to adopt the posture of grandmother to the nation. The Democratic Party that she leads is aging and reactionary and backward looking and spends much of its time preserving victories it won some time ago. What better protector of a sclerotic, desultory, confused, incompetent, decrepit welfare state than a rickety 67-year-old with health problems and a tin ear?

The next iteration of the nanny state is not limited government but a failing and rundown granny state. What is noteworthy is that an old white rich woman who sees the country as a collection of 300 million Charlotte Clinton-Mezvinskys is likely to be championed and worshiped by a Millennial generation that is supposedly fresh, diverse, upbeat, individualistic, and liberationist. It has long perplexed conservatives that voters who love iPhones and tablet computers and Uber vote for a party whose platform is little changed from the middle of the last century. But these commentators mistake a feature for a bug. The rules and entitlements and goodies provided by the granny state make it all the easier to spend more time on Tumblr and Vine. What is a grandmother, really, but an “immense and tutelary power”? Life is easier when she is there to take care of us.

Just don’t get too close to grandpa.

Hundreds of more rape cases in the British Rotherham rape scandal have been discovered, but the authorities seem to be dragging their feet in stopping these horrific Muslim rape gangs.
Sky News reported that in addition to the 1,400 cases revealed last year, “hundreds more cases were known to authorities prior to its publication and that hundreds more are being reported.” The victim who spoke to Sky News said that now all these months after the news first broke of the extent of this savage exploitation, “It’s still going on if not worse, because now they’re having to hide it more. I’m still seeing my abusers driving young girls in their car. They’re untouchable.” She said of the police that “all they care about is getting a statement. Six months on we’ve had no arrests, we’ve had no charges, evidence is still being lost.”

These words were reported a month after a team of government commissioners took over the Rotherham Council, after finding it in “complete denial” about the scandal.

Why is this happening? What illness has overtaken British authorities, such that they are covering up these cases and doing little or nothing to apprehend offenders? The answer lies in the fact that these are not simply criminal cases involving outlaw gangs. The rape gangs are made up of Muslims who believe that the Qur’an (4:3; 4:24; 23:1-6; 33:50) and Islamic law allow them to capture non-Muslim girls and press them into sexual slavery, as we have also seen the jihadists of Boko Haram and the Islamic State also do in the past year. And British authorities have feared to confront the problem in its full magnitude because they’re afraid of the stigma of stigmas in the twenty-first century West: being called “racist.”

As Ace reports, things are looking even worse for Brian Williams getting past his repeated lies about having been on a plane that was hit by a missile.

Andrew Stiles explains why, if all you're interested in is making a profit, don't invest with the Clinton's son-in-law.

An anonymous member of Congress tells us what he or she has learned from being i Congress.

Michael Gerson understands what the most recent misguided statements about vaccinations from Rand Paul are part of a pattern.
It has become the Rand Paul pattern: A few weeks paddling vigorously in the mainstream, followed by a lapse into authenticity, followed by transparent damage control, followed by churlishness toward anyone in the media who notices. All the signs of a man trying to get comfortable in someone else’s skin....

Paul blamed his troubles on the “liberal media” — which, after a little digging, reported that, in 2009, he had called mandatory vaccinations a step toward “martial law.”

When Chris Christie commits a gaffe on vaccination and reverses himself, it indicates a man out of his depth. With Paul, it reveals the unexplored depths of a highly ideological and conspiratorial worldview.
Gerson lists all sorts of statements by Paul that demonstrate the underlying philosophy motivating his worldview. Basically, Rand Paul believes what his more forthright father Ron Paul believes about the role of government and also about foreign policy. The son, however, can't explicitly say what he really believes because it would destroy his political liability. But he believes in this ideology so deeply that it seeps out over and over in these revealing gaffes.
On both domestic and foreign policy, Rand Paul holds libertarian views that, if fully and publicly expressed, would bring new rounds of controversy. It is a difficult position for a candidate when every glimmer of authenticity is a potential blunder.

Paul is a talented politician, capable of embracing creative ideas (as on criminal justice reform). But it is increasingly difficult to identify his target political audience. Is it libertarians with a panting desire for establishment legitimacy? I had thought that part of the appeal of libertarianism was its defiance of elites.

By any objective measure, Paul is a strong presidential candidate. He is one of a few Republicans capable of raising the funds to run a national campaign. And he is one of the most consistently interesting candidates in the field. But he is likely to be interesting in self-destructive ways, as on the issue of vaccination. For all its flaws of length and cost, a presidential campaign strips away pose and pretense. And that is a particular problem for Rand Paul.
My one hope is that Paul has exposed himself enough that he has killed his chances to win the nomination.

Uh oh. Another federal criminal investigation into Chris Christie's administration. I think Christie's path to the nomination is going to be simply a bridge too far.