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Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
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Anything Goes
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Karimi Hotel
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The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
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Jihad and Genocide
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Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
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These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 7, 2007.
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
How my eyes were opened to the barbarity of Islam. Is it racist to condemn fanaticism?
An important article by Phyllis Chesler in The Times. Her description of her marriage to an Afghani man reminds me a bit of the plot of James Mitchener’s book Caravans. Recommendation to young girls, if you want dark eyes in which you could drown, go for an Italian, or for that hint of the unusual, a man from Malta.
Once I was held captive in Kabul. I was the bride of a charming, seductive and Westernised Afghan Muslim whom I met at an American college. The purdah I experienced was relatively posh but the sequestered all-female life was not my cup of chai — nor was the male hostility to veiled, partly veiled and unveiled women in public.
When we landed in Kabul, an airport official smoothly confiscated my US passport. “Don’t worry, it’s just a formality,” my husband assured me. I never saw that passport again. I later learnt that this was routinely done to foreign wives — perhaps to make it impossible for them to leave. Overnight, my husband became a stranger. The man with whom I had discussed Camus, Dostoevsky, Tennessee Williams and the Italian cinema became a stranger. He treated me the same way his father and elder brother treated their wives: distantly, with a hint of disdain and embarrassment.
I saw how polygamous, arranged marriages and child brides led to chronic female suffering and to rivalry between co-wives and half-brothers; how the subordination and sequestration of women led to a profound estrangement between the sexes — one that led to wife-beating, marital rape and to a rampant but hotly denied male “prison”-like homosexuality and pederasty; how frustrated, neglected and uneducated women tormented their daughter-in-laws and female servants; how women were not allowed to pray in mosques or visit male doctors (their husbands described the symptoms in their absence).  
Individual Afghans were enchantingly courteous — but the Afghanistan I knew was a bastion of illiteracy, poverty, treachery and preventable diseases. It was also a police state, a feudal monarchy and a theocracy, rank with fear and paranoia. Afghanistan had never been colonised. My relatives said: “Not even the British could occupy us.” Thus I was forced to conclude that Afghan barbarism was of their own making and could not be attributed to Western imperialism.  What a good point.
Long before the rise of the Taleban, I learnt not to romanticise Third World countries or to confuse their hideous tyrants with liberators. I also learnt that sexual and religious apartheid in Muslim countries is indigenous and not the result of Western crimes — and that such “colourful tribal customs” are absolutely, not relatively, evil. Long before al-Qaeda beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and Nicholas Berg in Iraq, I understood that it was dangerous for a Westerner, especially a woman, to live in a Muslim country. In retrospect, I believe my so-called Western feminism was forged in that most beautiful and treacherous of Eastern countries.
Nevertheless, Western intellectual-ideologues, including feminists, have demonised me as a reactionary and racist “Islamophobe” for arguing that Islam, not Israel, is the largest practitioner of both sexual and religious apartheid in the world and that if Westerners do not stand up to this apartheid, morally, economically and militarily, we will not only have the blood of innocents on our hands; we will also be overrun by Sharia in the West. I have been heckled, menaced, never-invited, or disinvited for such heretical ideas — and for denouncing the epidemic of Muslim-on-Muslim violence for which tiny Israel is routinely, unbelievably scapegoated.
However, my views have found favour with the bravest and most enlightened people alive. Leading secular Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents — from Egypt, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria and exiles from Europe and North America — assembled for the landmark Islamic Summit Conference in Florida and invited me to chair the opening panel on Monday.  More about which here.
Now is the time for Western intellectuals who claim to be antiracists and committed to human rights to stand with these dissidents. To do so requires that we adopt a universal standard of human rights and abandon our loyalty to multicultural relativism, which justifies, even romanticises, indigenous Islamist barbarism, totalitarian terrorism and the persecution of women, religious minorities, homosexuals and intellectuals. Our abject refusal to judge between civilisation and barbarism, and between enlightened rationalism and theocratic fundamentalism, endangers and condemns the victims of Islamic tyranny.
Ibn Warraq has written a devastating work that will be out by the summer. It is entitled Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism. Will Western intellectuals also dare to defend the West? 
Posted on 03/07/2007 1:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
EU blues

I have some reservations about David Cameron, but he is right about the EU. Having seen its Constitution, a blueprint for tyranny, voted down, empire builders France and Germany want to sneak it in by the back door. The French, if you remember, rejected it for the wrong reasons - laughably it was too Anglo-Saxon for them. From The Telegraph:

Ahead of an EU summit in Brussels that opens tomorrow the Germans vowed to resurrect plans for a full-time EU president and dedicated EU foreign minister.

The German move ensures that arguments over the constitution - rejected by Dutch and French voters in 2005 -will continue to haunt Mr Blair as he prepares to leave office at the end of June.

He will now come under intense pressure from David Cameron, who vowed yesterday to oppose any further transfer of powers to Brussels, to either back the German initiative or end his premiership fighting the Euro-sceptic cause.

Germany's fresh push was spelt out in detail by Wolfgang Ischinger, the country's ambassador to London, in a briefing with journalists.

Mr Ischinger said "the first step" to make an enlarged EU work better should be to end the system of six-month rotating presidencies of the EU, and give the community "a permanent, professional presidency."

It was also high time the EU had a full-time foreign minister who could be the public face of a European foreign policy abroad.

"Why can't we get our act together and have a European foreign minister who can travel to Malaysia, or Washington or some other country and say this is what the EU believes," he said.

Both ideas were central to the EU constitution which was put on ice in 2005 after being rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands.

In a speech in Brussels yesterday, Mr Cameron called for a new "flexible" Europe in which member states can choose to opt in or out of EU projects.

He vowed to reverse the transfer of sovereign powers to Brussels and to lead a new generation of EU leaders who would reject its grand power grabs of the past.

"There is no case for the constitution, or constitution-lite," he said.

A "permanent president" will make the EU even less democratic than it is already. And the idea of "a European foreign minister who can travel to Malaysia, or Washington or some other country and say this is what the EU believes" is repugnant.

I don't think Cameron goes far enough. He should oppose the EU far more vigorously. Britain gets nothing out of it. We are not "Europeans"; in fact there are no "Europeans", just Britons, Frenchmen, Germans, Italians and so forth. The other countries naturally put their own interests first and flout the EU's silly rules when it suits them. It's about time the UK put its own interests first and pulled out.

Posted on 03/07/2007 4:40 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Whose Congress is it?

Dumb Looks Still Free examines an unlikely lobbying group now expecting help from Pelosi's Congress: FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–Ejército del Pueblo), a revolutionary army seeking to topple Colombia's government.  Why care about FARC?  Here's a list of "incidents" DLSF enumerates and details using the TerrorismKnowledgeBase files on FARC:

Wanton destruction of US Government property

Random terror acts that harm US Citizens

Targeting US Citizens for kidnapping

Murdering US Citizens

Targeting US Government Officials for murder

Invasion of the sovereign grounds of the US Embassy

Shooting down civilian aircraft on legal flight plans

Attempted assassination of a sitting US President

Using children to fight for you

Says DLSF:

Of the last five only the last one is *not* a casus belli, but a war crime in and of itself. You see these are such lovely and wonderful folks just being 'unfairly targeted by right wing death squads', while being quite handy in killing and slaughter on their lonesome against their own people.

It gets worse:

Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and al Qaeda work with the existing ex-pat communities in South America from the Middle East. All of those groups are cited as currently in the process of standing up funding organizations and purchasing arms and equipment in South American Nations and working with folks like FARC via previous underworld connections created in Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania, plus using IRA and ETA individuals to offer credentials for these Islamic terrorist groups.

I've asked this before vis a vis Islam in the U.S.: When our government fails to maintain its nation's borders and allows hostile, alien forces to set up shop within this nation, is it any longer legitimate?  To this must now be added a further question:  If our government aids forces at war with Americans, whose government is it?

Posted on 03/07/2007 6:11 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Swooners and swastikas

Esmerelda suggests that girls - and presumably women - looking for lovely brown eyes, should try to fall for Italians or Maltese men (Malteasers?) rather than Arabs or Afghans. Sound advice, if you want to avoid the trap of dozy binthood.  

Ami, commenting on my February article, points out that it is not just Muslims who attract swoonerettes: 

Remarkable passage from  Rosemary Bechler: I have not read such purple prose from a smitten bint since journalist Jani Allen fell for neonazi Eugene Terre’Blanche:

"Right now I've got to remind myself to breathe. I'm impaled on the blue flames of his blowtorch eyes, you see. Eugene Terre'Blanche does not walk into a room: he takes occupation of it. Things shrink. The roomscape insidiously rearranges itself so that he becomes the focal point. Konviction, Konfidence Kharisma (sic). They come at you like a yard of pump water. It's difficult to writhe out of the way", it was clear that Terre'Blanche had made an impression on her.

Is there something inevitable with women and the eroticism of fascistic manifestations, in the great tradition of Unity Mitford?

 

Neo-Nazis don’t even have lovely brown eyes – they are cold, hard and blue. Blowtorch? Yard of pump water? No, Fascism doesn't float my boat.

Posted on 03/07/2007 6:27 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Baudrillard: Dead or merely signifying death?

From the NY Sun obituary:

Jean Baudrillard, who died yesterday in Paris at 77, was an author and philosopher whose postmodern books, in the best café tradition, questioned objective reality and suggested that consumer culture was replacing it with what he labeled "hyperreality" and "simulation."

Hyperreality, far from representing a better reality, was worse and illusory. The profusion of consumer choice in market economies was, for Baudrillard, actually the replacement of real choice by artful simulations. His theories were said to be the philosophical underpinning for the film "The Matrix" (1999), starring the philosophically impassive Keanu Reaves.

In 2005, while in New York for a reading from his book "The Conspiracy of Art," he told the New Yorker, "All America is Disneyland." Fond of touring the heartland, for many years he had seen himself as something of a modernday de Tocqueville and had published the book " America" in 1986.

Not everyone was convinced. "Every time he sees a silo he starts going into some French theory," Andrei Codrescu, another foreign-born writer with some pretensions to seeing America with an outsider's eye, once complained.

[...]

In America, Baudrillard received notoriety for his writings on the attacks of September 11, 2001, and on the Gulf War, which, his 1991 book claimed, did not take place. His point was not that bombs were not dropped nor troops not deployed, but that these things were done not so much to fight war as to signify war. The argument was perhaps too subtle for either side in the conflict to appreciate fully.

The events of September 11, on the other hand, were an "absolute event," Baudrillard said, and blamed it on a reaction against globalized trade — a term that for him had a far wider meaning than the mere distribution of commodities. "Terrorism is immoral," he wrote. "It responds to a globalization that is itself immoral."

Thus, Baudrillard was perhaps the father of an argument of immoral equivalence between terrorists and their victims.

I know a couple that has worshipped Baudrillard for decades.  On the morning of September 11th, after the first tower had collapsed, thick alumininum-studded smoke now enshrouding Brooklyn Heights, I bought jugs of water to take to them, knowing their characteristic passivity in the face of danger would keep them shut in that day.  When I got to their apartment and was let in, they were suprised by the gift.  The three of us watched television, saw the second tower come down.  All they could say over and over again, was "Oil, SUVs."  They say it even now. 

Posted on 03/07/2007 6:51 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
IBD takes on CAIR

Investors Business Daily comes through with another courageous editorial:

Politics And Islam: The first Secular Islam Summit was a success if for no other reason than it intimidated the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the PR machine of militant Islam.

The Washington-based group that boycotts airlines and bullies radio personalities and politicians into toeing the Islamist line is clearly worried about the message from Muslim reformers.

It dispatched its henchmen to Florida to shout the reformers down at their confab earlier this week. CAIR also posted on its Web site no fewer than four stories bashing the event and its courageous speakers, many of whom are women calling for an end to inequality and mistreatment under radical Islam.

CAIR declared the summit illegitimate because few of the participants are "practicing Muslims," and those who are, it claims, are merely pawns playing into the hands of "Islamophobes."

"In order to have legitimate reform, you need to have the right messengers," asserted CAIR spokesman Ahmed Bedier.

And who might that be? The four CAIR executives who have been successfully prosecuted on terrorism-related charges? The CAIR co-founder who said the Quran should replace the U.S. Constitution as "the highest authority in America"?

True voices of moderation are the delegates to the Secular Islam Summit, who insisted in their declaration that mosque and state should always be separate. They also called for tolerance for non-Muslims, and an end to violent jihad. CAIR should take notes.

So what if many of them are ex-Muslims? They risked their lives to leave Islam and now dare to openly criticize an ideology that everyone else is afraid to criticize. What these brave souls have to say carries far more weight than anything said by CAIR, which couldn't even bring itself to condemn Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9/11.

Yes, Bedier argued, but the summit's "funding is coming from the neoconservatives." An article posted by CAIR suggests "Israeli intelligence" is behind the movement.

In CAIR's kooky world, the Zionists are behind everything, even 9/11.

But if anyone was behind 9/11, it was the Saudis. And guess who bankrolls CAIR? Right: the Saudis.

Fittingly, CAIR's Bedier balked when summit delegate Tawfik Hamid, a former terrorist, challenged him to denounce Saudi sharia law for "killing apostates, beating women and stoning women."

"This is not about Saudi Arabia," he huffed. "We condemn any nation that misuses Islam, but we're not going to condemn an entire nation. That's like condemning London (sic)."

Another CAIR sugar daddy is the ruler of Dubai, which acted as the staging ground for the hijackers and the transit point for 9/11 cash.

Sheikh Mohammed, who before 9/11 requisitioned cargo jets to supply Osama bin Laden's Afghan camps, owns CAIR's D.C. headquarters through his foundation, which also holds telethons for Palestinian "martyrs."

The same foundation recently pledged $50 million to CAIR to boost its operations, which includes a legal shop set up to intimidate critics with vexatious lawsuits.

Radical groups like CAIR have been on the offensive, primarily because counterattacks by moderates have been few and far between.

But the Secular Islam Summit offers a ray of hope. Just a handful of reformers gathered in Florida made CAIR squirm. Imagine if hundreds of moderate Muslim voices rose up and challenged the Saudi-backed Wahhabi lobby.

Posted on 03/07/2007 6:59 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Civilization For Sale

To quote a friend of Hugh's "Money can buy everything, except civilization."

New Duranty: PARIS, March 6 — What’s the price of a good name?

How about a cool $520 million?

That is the amount that Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, agreed Tuesday to pay to attach the Louvre’s name to a museum that it hopes to open in 2012. And there is more: in exchange for art loans, special exhibitions and management advice, Abu Dhabi will pay France an additional $747 million.

Controversy over the Louvre Abu Dhabi has been swirling in France for the last three months, with critics charging that the French government is “selling” its museums. But only now have the full details of the nearly $1.3 billion package been disclosed.

For Abu Dhabi, the deal is an important step in its plan to build a $27 billion tourist and cultural development on Saadiyat Island, opposite the city. The project’s cultural components include a Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a maritime museum and a performing arts center as well as the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

For France the agreement signals a new willingness to exploit its culture for political and economic ends. In this case, it also represents something of a payback: the United Arab Emirates has ordered 40 Airbus 380 aircraft and has bought about $10.4 billion worth of armaments from France during the last decade...

Posted on 03/07/2007 7:19 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Counter CAIR

The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is funding the placing of Jimmy Cater's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid in libraries across America. The following warning may be printed out on a small piece of paper and inserted in these books wherever you may find them in bookstores or libraries. Thanks to the Poetess: 

Warning: This book contains toxic levels of anti-Semitism and bigotry. This book contains dangerous blatant falsehoods and misrepresentations that have been used against the Jewish people for centuries.

You should not harm this book in any way but you should not buy it either. You should also make up your own warning and insert it into any copy of this book you encounter.

Posted on 03/07/2007 7:28 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
D'Souza has been weighed and found wanting

"Two thirds of Muslims in the world today live in democratic societies, and they certainly aren't wiping out the infidels around them..." -- from Dinesh D'Souza

D’Souza then goes on to list these "democratic societies" in which Muslims "certainly aren't wiping out the infidels around them." They are: India, Turkey, Indonesia. As to India, there is one good reason why Muslims have not gone beyond terrorist attacks in Mumbai and even on the Parliament Building in Delhi, and that is in India the army and security services are in the hands of non-Muslims, who make up nearly 90% of the population. Isn't that the real explanation for the failure of Muslims to ruthlessly attack "the infidels around them"? And isn't it true that in 1947, at the time of Partition, in West Pakistan (now Pakistan) Hindus made up 15% or more of the population, and now make up less than 1.5%? And isn't it true, as well, that in what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Hindus and other non-Muslims (there are still some Buddhists in the Chittagong Hills area, and some Christians) made up 35% of the population, but now make up about 8%? And what explains that? And what explains the expulsion of 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits by the Muslims into India?

What could possibly explain all this? It doesn't have to be the result of large-scale massacres. It can be, and indeed is, the result of implacable discrimination, official persecution and the other, unofficial kind, and killings -- a Hindu village here, a temple there, an accusation of blasphemy against Islam over there. And over time, if it is horrific enough -- and it has been horrific enough -- this leads not a few thousand, not even tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, but millions upon millions of people, in the main Hindus, to simply pack up and leave both Pakistan and Bangladesh.

What about those other Islamic "democracies" that Dinesh D'Souza refers to? Let's take Turkey. In Turkey, in 1914, 50% of the population of Constantinople was non-Muslim. It is now 1%. In 1914, 20% of the population of Turkey was non-Muslim -- Armenians, Greeks, Jews. It is now much less than 1/2 of 1%. How did this happen? Has Dinesh D'Souza heard about the Armenian genocide, or rather the several genocides, including that of 1894-96, in which the Kurds as well as Turks participated actively? Has he read the accounts -- say that on the first massacre in which American missionaries and consular officials offer their eyewitness accounts. In those accounts, Muslim Turks and Kurds attacked the "giaour" (that is, the non-Muslim, the Infidel) and took special pleasure in killing Armenian priests and destroying all signs of Armenian churches. Does he, Dinesh D'Souza, know about the massacres of the Greeks, and why the Pontic Greeks (does he know what the Pontic Greeks were?) left Turkey? Does he know about the pogroms against the Jews in Turkey (the "Thracian pogrom"), or about what Western diplomats reported on the treatment of Jews in Turkey, which contradicts this dreamy idea, fondly believed by some Turks and Jews alike, that for Jews the situation in Turkey was simply splendid? It was nothing of the kind. Does Dinesh D'Souza know about the cult of "the Turk" -- who could not be anything other than a Muslim Turk -- the cult that the Kemalists used to dampen or dilute single-minded enthusiasm for Islam? Does he know of the special wartime (World War II) taxes, the Varlik Vergesi, placed by the Turkish government only on non-Muslims? Has he heard of the attacks on the Greek community of Istanbul in September 1955, under the Menderes government, and does that book by Speros Vryonis, The Mechanism of Catastrophe, have a place in Dinesh D'Souza's little library of books on Islam?

And as for Turkey being a "democracy," what does Dinesh D'Souza make of the need for the Turkish army to intervene, in 1970, and 1980, and 1991? Does he think that compatible with true democracy? Does he have an opinion about the play which Erdogan not only wrote, but directed and acted in, and the title of which says it all -- "Makomya," a hate-filled little thing full of attacks on the "Masons"(Ma) and the "Communists" (Kom) and the "Jews" (Ya-hud)? Does D'Souza think that in the "democracy" of Turkey non-Muslims are fully equal citizens, or have ever been? The cult of "the Turk" is merely a replacement for the cult of Islam, and the cult of Ataturk supplants, or tries to, the cult of Muhammad -- but Islam is still there, molding minds and attitudes. He should talk not to Turkish Muslims, but to non-Muslims, well outside of Turkey, if he is too thickwitted to look at the greatly-reduced populations of Greeks, Armenians, and Jews, not exactly "full citizens" of Turkey today, for there are laws, and then there are deep-seated attitudes.

And what about that "democracy" in Indonesia? Has Dinesh D'Souza ever heard about the mass killings of ethnic Chinese, by some reports a half-million or more, and also of nominal Muslims, who were massacred for their apparently tepid interest in Islam? Has he heard about the killing by Muslim Indonesians of one-third of the Christian population of East Timor, after it was seized from the Portuguese? Isn't it just a little surprising that an Indian Catholic named D'Souza seems not to know about, or perhaps is deliberately choosing to ignore, the mass killing of people who were converted, as presumably were his ancestors, by the Portuguese missionaries?

Is Indonesia really a place today where the Infidels are safe? What is happening in the Moluccas? In Sulawesi? Has Dinesh D'Souza been keeping up with the reports of attacks on thousands of churches, and on Christian worshippers? He did hear about the three schoolgirls who were decapitated, no doubt, but has he kept up with the reports of the Barnabas Fund, very detailed reports, on the many other attacks, including murder, that are intended to terrorize Christians? Does he recall Bali, and how on that island populated by Hindus and visited by Western, non-Muslim tourists, Muslims put a bomb? Has he been following the disposition of justice since, and what has happened to those who were accused of being behind the bombing? Has he followed the public remarks of those involved in the plot and other plots, and how they have been treated not as criminals but as heroes by many Indonesian Muslims?

He just can't be bothered, can he, to find out any facts, any details, about those esemplastic shapes - "India," "Indonesia," "Turkey" -- that he enjoys airily summing up for an audience he must have great contempt for, because he never pays it the tribute of real fact based on detailed knowledge. Instead, he treats those audiences, for his lectures, his articles, his books, as so many lazy ignoramuses who will be well-satisfied with his pap.

He disgusts. And the more frantic he becomes, and the more he flails out, and the more he reveals himself to be what perhaps he always was all along, the more he should be shunned by anyone who thinks that some minimum standards must be maintained. He has been weighed and found wanting. No, rather, he's had himself weighed for the purpose of being rewarded, like the Aga Khan (whose Ismaili followers would give him his weight in diamonds, or some other precious stones). But instead of a reward, he deserves only ridicule, not unmixed with rancor.

Posted on 03/07/2007 8:15 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Emily's Dissed

Calm down, Derb.  Take a deep breath, finish that glass of wine, and just tell the story.

OK, this is Tuesday evening, and I just got through homework duty.  My daughter, age 14, has been given a poem to study.  It's Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death."  I like Emily Dickinson's stuff, and know this poem.

Well, the school had printed it up on a sheet for the kids to study, with a nice picture of a horse-drawn carriage heading into the darkness as illustration.  A nice bit of work... except...

Looking at the sheet, I saw something amiss.  I pulled down Matthiessen's 1950 Oxford Book of American Verse, which I have come to trust as authoritative. 

(Do NOT depend on the internet for stuff like this.  Books published after the collapse of editing skills around 1980 should also be taken with a grain of salt.  The other day I took delivery of a copy of Jacques Chailley's The Magic Flute—Masonic Opera from a 2nd-hand book website.  I was thrilled to see that it contained an erratum slip.  You don't see those much any more!  The book is dated 1971.) 

OK, Miss Dickinson's poem, third stanza:

"We passed the school where children played
At wrestling in a ring;"

Nellie's sheet had:  "At recess, in a ring."

Fourth stanza:

"We passed before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound."

Nellie's sheet had the last line as:  "The cornice in the ground."

I guess some present-day Tom Bowdler decided that a reference to children wrestling was just too ickily masculine for today's teens to tolerate.

As for the substitution of "in the ground" for "but a mound," I'm baffled.  Does "mound" make it too obvious she's talking about her grave?  (Then why give the kids a poem about death in the first place?)  Did dirty-minded Tom think it might be taken to refer to (or actually does refer to!) the mons veneris?  Does he think that perhaps "mound" would confuse the kids because they only know this word in relation to candy bars?  Or what?

In any case, the impression left on the mind of a 14-year-old by Tom's alterations is: "Rhyming 'ground' with 'ground'?  This is supposed to be a major American poet, and that's the best she can do for a rhyme?  Feugh."

Poor Emily is of course spinning in her... place of rest. 

Posted on 03/07/2007 8:33 AM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
The Guy Who Said That Thing to the Other Guy

Trying really hard to focus my eyes on this story about the Libby Plame guy and the Scootus woman, I recalled the old story about a great 19th-century English judge being accosted by a friend as he was leaving his London club in the direction of the Law Courts.  "You're off to carry out justice, then?"  Reply: "Justice be damned.  I'm off to carry out the law."

With what I can gather about this Scooty Wilson case, and the farce about the two border agents (it has now turned out that the Mexican drug smuggler used his prosecution-granted immunity as an opportunity to do a bit of business, and that the prosecutors knew this, but didn't tell the jury), it seems to me there's a great deal of law going on lately, but not much in the way of justice. 

Posted on 03/07/2007 8:39 AM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
The Saudis

There are all sorts of slaves, running into the millions, in Saudi Arabia, as in the U.A.E. and Kuwait. At the lowest end are the laborers, chiefly from the subcontinent, who are the field hands, the ill-treated laborers. Then the Arabs like to keep house hands, and they are mostly the Indian, Filipino, and Thai girls, who are treated just as you imagine they are treated (every so often, when they get to the West, one or two manage to run away, in London or in Washington, and there is a brief item in the paper about the Kuwaiti military attaché and his wife, or the Al-Saud princeling, but ordinarily this stuff is hushed up, with very expensive lawyers and the usual Western hirelings of the Arabs "whispering hush" (well, Goodnight, Moon, and Goodnight, Vienna).

And then there are, somewhere in the middle, the South Koreans who do so much of the building. And then, a little further up the scale, the Westerners: they keep the oil production going. They are the doctors, and the nurses (often English or Australian). They are the teachers, at every level, of English and other languages, of whatever science is taught, even of such doubtful and for the Saudis utterly unnecessary things (the money flows in, and no one has to do a thing) as "business administration." The Saudi army, such as it is, is trained by Westerners, though they, those Western military men, are treated with contumely (compare the respect with which Sultan Qaboos in Oman treats the British officers in his country, but then Qaboos, and his country, is far superior in every way to Saudi Arabia).

Saudi Arabia would collapse without those Westerners. Despite the trillions received since 1973, Saudi Arabia does not have an economy. Almost no Saudi shows up for a real job, with real hours. A few hours a day, a putting-in-of-an-appearance, and then it is home to enjoy the entirely unmerited wealth, and perhaps, if you are not a member of the ruling class or the courtier who has received favor (i.e., the "right" to import this or that make of car), then you might not only go home, but at home begin to think about, and resent, the fabulously unequal distribution of the "national" wealth, so much of it siphoned off by those princes, princelings, and princelettes of the Al-Saud who, all daggers and dishdashas and sneers of cold command, keep that country for themselves, and hire just enough Western agents to permit the Saudis to continue to get away with their fantastic behavior, their funding of the Jihad, chiefly through Da'wa and demographic conquest (who pays for all those mosques and madrasas and that army of propagandists for Islam, both Muslims and non-Muslims, all over the Western world?).

They can't continue without Western experts, doctors, teachers, military men. Those who want to bring down the Al-Saud are intelligently aiming at their weakest point: their absolute reliance on foreigners. Even the Christian Lebanese (also victims of past attacks) will be leaving. Let's see what happens to Saudi Arabia now. And no one should worry overmuch. If anything further should happen, such as the Shi'a (who make up at least 10% of the country's population, and perhaps more --- the Saudi Census Bureau has a nice handbook called "How To Lie About Statistics") in the Eastern Province becoming enraged over the attacks on Shi'a in Iraq, given moral and other kinds of support by Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, could act up.

And if they did? If they did, nothing. Those who frantically say we must prop up the Al-Saud do not realize how easy it would be to seize the oilfields, so close to the tankers in the Gulf, far easier than to protect and defend the tribe-with-a-flag that thinks for some reason we should protect it. That is not necessary. And seizure of oilfields can be made appealing, if done with funds held to be distributed, more fairly, not only to those people in Saudi Arabia, but to others.

Posted on 03/07/2007 8:44 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Impending verse

Faber and Faber has published Collected Poems by Belfast poet Louis MacNeice, along with Auden, also in centenary year.  (h/t: Eric Ormsby)

This, a foreboding 1930s MacNeice, taken from a Gates of Vienna post (which links to several of the Baron's appreciations of MacNeice).

The Sunlight on the Garden

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold;
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.

The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying

And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.

Says the Baron:

Technically speaking, this poem is superb. A tight rhyme scheme ties the end of one line to the beginning of the next without destroying the rhythm of the poem or causing it to become stilted. I particularly like the conflation of Shakespeare’s Cleopatra with the biblical Pharaoh, bringing a double premonition of the disaster to come, tying the asp’s venom to all the locusts and frogs and boils that lie ahead for Egypt.

It’s a gloomy poem. But it was a gloomy time.

Posted on 03/07/2007 9:05 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Most Selfish Person of the Year So Far

There is something utterly repellant about this continuing drama of pure selfishness. Pity the poor child who will have to grow up with a mother like this.

Posted on 03/07/2007 9:25 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Cultural Muslims

The term "cultural Muslim" is used most often by those who are not believers in Islam, but who have not embraced another religion, are agnostics or, more often, atheists, but who want to signal a kind of filial piety, perhaps fond memories of a pious grandmother in a warm childhood atmosphere, and really mean something like "I'm not a Muslim but for various reasons do not wish to announce this -- filial piety, embarrassment, defensiveness perhaps, and of course fear of the consequences, fear of what it might mean for me with those who might attack me, or family members who would not be able to bear the news that I was an apostate."

One thinks of Kanan Makiya, declaring himself on television to be a non-believer but becoming defensive, and mentioning his grandmother's piety, when he senses that remarks dismissive of Islam are being made.

Some "cultural Muslims" are as little Muslim as you or I. Some like the rituals of individual worship. Some may believe, believe like the immigrant mother saying of her tough-guy son (played by Jimmy Cagney) as he's taken away by the police for some murder that "my boy's a good boy." "My Islam's a good Islam." That's what those who just can't face it, who don't want to face it, who can't draw the link between Islam as a belief-system and the damage that has been done to mental freedom, to skeptical inquiry, to a rich variety of artistic expression, by Islam, Islam, Islam.

Posted on 03/07/2007 9:32 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Stop the Jizyah

Tehran: Hamas leader Khalid Mesha'al extracted from Iran yesterday a pledge to fund his radical Palestinian movement to compensate for the West's financial blockade of the Palestinian government. --from this news item

If nothing else, Western governments should realize that the Arabs and Iranians have all the money, the unearned and unmerited money, in the world, and if anyone is going to support (no one should, but some may insist) the "poor Palestinians" who are merely the local shock troops, raised up as irredentist fighters in the Lesser Jihad that does not have, and can not have, an end, it should be fellow Muslims. For all sorts of reasons, but above all in order to change the psychology of the Western world, and also that of the Muslims, all payments by Infidels, all support by Infidels, to Muslim peoples and states must end: it always and everywhere becomes a Jizyah. It is treated as a Jizyah by the recipients, who regard it as theirs as a matter of right, as something the Infidels must pay. Just look at the bizarre behavior of the "Palestinians" and their outrage at being cut off from Western aid. Even though those "Palestinians" have killed Americans, including diplomats (Moore and Noel in Khartoum), and American government officials coming to Gaza to announce the local winners of American scholarships, even though the "Palestinians" have been championed by the egregious Carter, and Arafat was the foreign visitor most frequently entertained by the slightly-less-egregious Clinton, even though the cult of "Palestinianism" has had a good run all over the Western world, yet these people, when their foreign aid from the West is cut (they seem to have no trouble paying for huge quantities of arms, and save for the odd bomb attack by those opposed to Western decadence, their DVD-rental stores seem to be thriving, which tells us that this is not exactly Calcutta, much less the Warsaw ghetto (whatever a few morally-disturbed German bishops may think), call it "an economic boycott" or "economic blockade."

And if the attitude of the Muslim recipients of Western aid is one not of gratitude in the slightest -- see Egypt, a world center of anti-American viciousness, whipped up by its press and radio and television, which has been the recipient of $60 billion in aid. For what? In order to achieve what? Egypt was not a whit less anti-American before that aid started, and indeed, it would be less anti-American today if the Americans were not seen a propping up the Family-and-Friends Regime of thick-necked Mubarak.

And then there is Pakistan. $27.5 billion since the World Trade Center attacks. For what? How is Al Qaeda doing, in its hidewaways in Pakistan? And how are the Taliban doing, as they re-enter Afghanistan, and are resupplied, from Pakistan? What was that aid for? And why does the government of Pakistan think it is entitled to such aid, as its every pronouncement demonstrates?

But just as bad as the outrageous attitude of Muslim recipients of Western, especially American aid, is the attitude of those who give it. For they exhibit more and more the classic behavior of the dhimmi under Muslim rule. That is, they give the aid, and then are afraid to cut it. They do so only very reluctantly. Only very reluctantly did the aid to the "Palestinians" stop, and so many, including the Europeans, are eager to turn on the Jizyah tap, to find some meaningless formula that will allow them to rush to empty their pockets all over Gaza and the "West Bank." Say anything, Hamas, just say you've got a "truce." Or say that you "recognize" Israel, by which you will mean that you take notice of its existence, nothing more, but we'll pretend you meant: We hereby declare that Israel is a sovereign state and is permanently here, and that's okay by us." Please, just say something, because it is hurting us not to renew that Jizyah. And the same is true with the American government, apparently terrified of cutting aid to Egypt, when that aid should have never started. If Egypt is indeed so "critical" to stability in the region, let the Saudis take a few billion from their mad-money slush fund, the one that is used to pay for even more mosques in London, Paris, Rome, and Washington, and prop up the Sunni regime in Egypt. And if they don't wish to support Egypt? Fine, then let the Egyptians resent the rich Arabs for not sharing their vast unmerited wealth, and not the American government for taking the money of taxpayers to provide, for the Egyptian elite, a style of living that we, those taxpayers, can scarcely imagine, much less imitate.

End the Jizyah. For god's sake. It isn't very complicated. It is the first step in getting the relations between Muslims and the West adjusted properly, in order to make sure that that West, superior in every way, is not eventually undermined and undone by the primitive adherents of a primitive and dangerous belief-system. That is the minimum one should ask of one's government: that it stop paying the Jizyah.

Posted on 03/07/2007 9:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Cartoon protester guilty of soliciting murder

Brief outbreak of common sense. From The Telegraph:

A British Muslim has been found guilty of soliciting murder during a protest against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Abdul Muhid, 24, led a crowd chanting "Bomb, bomb the UK" and produced placards with slogans such as "Annihilate those who insult Islam", the Old Bailey heard.

Others read "Fantastic four are on their way" and "3/11 is on its way", referring to the deadly terrorist attacks on London and Madrid.

Muhid, of Whitechapel, east London, was found guilty by a jury on two counts of soliciting murder, and was remanded in custody by Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London (pictured below- M.J.)...

Common Sergeant

Muhid, a halal meat inspector, saw himself as a "soldier" engaged in a struggle against those he believed had insulted Islam, and exhorted people to commit "terrorist killing", the court heard.

The Common Serjeant must not be confused with the Common Sergeant and neither must be confused with the common cormorant or shag.

Posted on 03/07/2007 11:38 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Internet cheats

The Telegraph tells us that thousands of sixth-formers are plagiarising material from the internet to complete their university application forms. This is hardly surprising. It's how many of them have been doing their coursework for their dumbed-down GCSEs and A-Levels:

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) is doubling the size of its anti-cheating unit after a study found that one-in-20 Oxbridge applicants copied material from websites when filling in their personal statements.

Nearly 400,000 people applied to university undergraduate courses this year, suggesting the number of cheating teenagers could be as high as 20,000.

Personal statements - which allow students to outline their academic and personal interests and explain why they are suited to their chosen course - are central to the admissions process, as they allow the most talented students to display their flair and extra-curricula achievements.

"Extracurricular", surely, or perhaps "extra-curricular".

Most students fill in the form online, which Ucas believes has encouraged people to copy and paste chunks from websites offering "model" statements.

The study found that nearly 800 medical applications had personal statements containing phrases directly taken from three online example statements. Ucas said 370 applications contained a statement starting with "a fascination for how the human body works".

A total of 234 included a statement relating a dramatic incident involving "burning a hole in pyjamas at age eight", and 175 candidates wrote about "an elderly or infirm grandfather".

You would think they would have the wit to change the age, the pyjamas or the sex of the grandparent*. It is worrying to think that prospective medical students, who will have your life in their hands, are too lazy and unimaginative to lie properly.

*If I were applying to Oxford I'd tell them I don't want their rotten commas. It's more fun without.

Posted on 03/07/2007 12:01 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Book review by Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
A book review by Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, was published in the Evening Standard newspaper, London, 5 March 2007, comparing two recent publications about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.  Now on the Barnabas Fund website.
"Spinning the prophet"
The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad By Tariq Ramadan (Penguin, £20)
The Roots of Jihad By Dr Tawfik Hamid (USA: Top Executive Media, $22.95)

Professor Tariq Ramadan is an enigma. His grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood, considered the prototype radical Islamist organisation of modern times. Tariq Ramadan himself studied at Al-Azhar University, Cairo, the leading religious institution of Sunni Islam. Banned from the US, he is welcomed in the UK. A respected academic of classical Islam, he presents himself as a liberal-minded reformer.
Ramadan's biography of Muhammad is an uncritical devotional work for Muslims, strengthening English-speaking Muslims in their love for their prophet. Equally it is aimed at non-Muslims - the Islamic equivalent of an evangelistic tract. Indeed Muhammad is depicted by Ramadan almost as a Christ-figure. "His presence was a refuge; he was the Messenger. He loved, he forgave." Even his wounds are referred to as a model for his followers, adding another frisson of Christian allusion.
Ramadan's sanitised biography of Muhammad presents the prophet of Islam in Meccan terms. It shows the peaceable persona he had when living in Mecca, before he established and ruled the first Islamic state in Medina. It portrays him as a wonderful husband, a freedom fighter, a spiritual giant, concerned for the poor, weak and vulnerable.
The author has selected from the Muslim source texts (Qur'an and Sunna – the life and example of Muhammad), using only the most favourable parts, ignoring other material from the same sources which would undermine his case.
Ramadan's uncritical approach follows the Islamic tradition that Muhammad can never be questioned. He writes this biography as if he were in Pakistan, where there is a mandatory death sentence for making "derogatory remarks" about Muhammad (Pakistan Penal Code, section 295-C).
Ramadan's careful avoidance of the tough questions about Muhammad's character and conduct will be galling to some liberal Muslims. There will be disappointment amongst those seeking to reform Islam by reasoned internal discussion on the role of Muhammad and the context which influenced him.
I find it easier to understand the stance of Muslims like Dr Tawfik Hamid, who has come out of the Islamic terrorism scene and, ignoring threats to himself and his family, writes forthrightly and consistently of the need for Islam to be reformed. In "The Roots of Jihad" he examines (amongst other things) the controversial aspects of Muhammad's life. He pinpoints the Muslim habit of modelling their lives on their prophet as "one of the main problems" in the Muslim world. "The ultimate dream of most Muslims is to follow every step of Mohammed, and unfortunately, some of these footsteps are extremely barbaric by any good standard".
Any true reformer needs to look at the issue of Muhammad's life. The roots of reform lie with Muslims who have the courage and consistency to initiate a discussion on the role of Muhammad as prophet and statesman.
Patrick Sookhdeo
Posted on 03/07/2007 12:29 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Neal Stephenson-a-thon

I have been remiss.  Last fall The New Atlantis hired me to do a long piece on Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, with Cryptonomicon as an optional extra.   I started reading, promising to post periodic thoughts.  Well, I didn't.  I am sorry.  My piece will be in the forthcoming (Spring '07) issue of TNA, though, and I urge you to get a subscription to this excellent magazine & read Derb on Neal.  The piece came out longer than I thought—over 5,000 words; but that is, as the TNA editor observed, very much in the Stephenson spirit....

Also forthcoming:  Another long piece on Euler in The Wilson Quarterly; a review of Doug Hofstadter's new book in the Wall St Journal, and a review of Prof. O'Shea's book on the Poincare Conjecture in the NY Sun (this one not forthcoming—it went up today).  Scribble, scribble, scribble....

Posted on 03/07/2007 1:07 PM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
The Common Serjeant must not be confused with the Common Sergeant . . .
as Mary says here. And he must definitely not be confused with the Kings Serjeant who was the most senior of the Serjeants-at-Law, the select group of lawyers, from which Judges were selected. Not to mention at various periods the First Serjeant and the Prime Serjeant.

Picture of Serjeants

They congregated around Serjeants Inn off Chancery Lane. I used to nip through the old courtyard on my way to lightbulb changing duties in Chancery Lane some years ago. In true English fashion the name is now commemorated in the area as a pub. The practice of appointing Judges only from the ranks of Serjeants was abolished in 1875. All that remains in the modern system is the post of Common Serjeant who is the deputy to the senior permanent Judge at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey. That Judge has the title Recorder of London.  And he should not be confused with an ordinary recorder, who is a lawyer, like Cherie Blair, who sits occasionally as a part time Judge on criminal trials in the Crown Court.
The Old Bailey is treated these days as one of the many centres of the Crown Court of England and Wales, which is the higher of our criminal courts, but because of its history there are a couple of oddities about its practice and jurisdiction.
Posted on 03/07/2007 1:12 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
The Muslim Problem and What to Do about It

John Stone ended this speech at a Quadrant dinner in Sidney with the following:

If a thesis along these lines be accepted, what is to be done about Australia’s existing, and rapidly growing, Muslim community? I do not wish simply to repeat now what I have already said elsewhere. Let me begin, though, with a few basic propositions:

• Most basically of all, we don’t even know how many Muslims there are in Australia, and that is unacceptable. The religious affiliation question in the forthcoming census should be made compulsory. Arguments to the contrary by so-called civil libertarians and others are at best hollow and at worst deliberately deceitful. One such argument in particular, namely that if the question were compulsory, Muslim residents would simply answer it untruthfully and we would therefore be no better informed than at present, is hardly a character reference.

• Australia’s Muslims can be divided into four categories: those born here; those not born here but who, since arrival, have become naturalised Australian citizens; those Muslim immigrants who are not yet citizens; and those here illegally. For present purposes, in what follows I set aside the first two categories and focus on the latter two.

• There is an old adage that, when you are already in a hole, stop digging. The entry into Australia of Muslim immigrants over the past thirty-five years or so means that we are now in a hole. The first thing to do, then, is to stop digging. We should curtail very sharply, to the point of virtually halting, the further entry of Muslims within our immigration programs. That will be attacked as “discriminatory”, and so it is. We have every right to discriminate against the admission to Australia of people of any culture that we believe will be incompatible with the peace, order and good government of our country.

• The second thing we need to do, and one which is entirely non-discriminatory, is to make it significantly harder for people to become Australian citizens. At present, citizenship involves only two years’ permanent residence and “swearing” (quite possibly with one’s fingers crossed, or with that doctrine of taqiyya very much in mind) an oath or affirmation of allegiance. After you have gone through that essentially worthless procedure, you can go back to your cultural ghetto, be appointed to jobs in the public service, the police or even the armed forces, and if you are subsequently found to have committed an offence, it is no longer possible to deport you. This is patently ridiculous. The present two-year residential requirement should be extended to at least five years. Equally importantly, people seeking citizenship should be required to demonstrate their capacity to be citizens by at least acquiring reasonable proficiency in (and being officially tested on their command of) English, as well as having to demonstrate their knowledge and acceptance of certain other fundamentals of citizenship in Australia.

• The third thing we should do is to make it much harder to come into Australia illegally. John Howard has already done a good deal in that regard, in the teeth of opposition from a small number of malcontents within his own party, but more is needed. I proposed last August that the government should move to block access to Australia through our back door across Torres Strait. If that (non-discriminatory) measure had been taken, the forty-three West Papuans who have been the source of so much trouble recently would never have got here; indeed, they would probably never have set out to do so.

If we focus on those three objectives, namely setting out to virtually halt legal Muslim immigration, rendering citizenship much tougher to obtain (not only for Muslims) and cracking down even harder on illegal entry of both Muslims and non-Muslims, there are many things we can and should do. Here are a few of them:

• One wholly non-discriminatory measure which could, however, have the result of deterring Muslim applications for admission to our immigration stream would be to require all applicants to receive, accept the contents of, and sign for, a formal governmental statement of those aspects of our national life to which we expect all newcomers to conform. This would include such things as the separation of church and state; the equal treatment of men and women; the unacceptability of certain cultural practices, such as polygamy, female genital mutilation and the like; the full rights of women to marry those of any faith (or none); the rule of law more generally; and so on.

• There are also currently several aspects of our immigration law and procedures that are badly in need of change. One such derives from our accession to the UN International Convention on Refugees, an outdated convention drawn up originally to deal with the postwar refugee situation that bears no relation to that of today. Under our Refugee and Special Humanitarian immigration programs we are currently taking roughly 13,000 persons (including about 6000 refugees) per annum—whereas Japan, which also became a signatory to the UN Convention in 1982, and which has a population many times larger than our own, has since taken no more than ten to fifteen refugees per year. What is worse, however, is that it appears that who we take in as refugees is largely determined not by us, but by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. What was that about “we will determine who comes to this country, and how they come”?

Presumably it is because of this inexplicable abrogation of our national sovereignty that we have recently seen literally thousands of Sudanese, Somalis and other wholly culturally incompatible people (many of whom are presumably also Muslims) being dumped into places like Toowoomba, Ballarat and elsewhere. (The alternative, that our Minister for Immigration and her Department actually chose them themselves, is too appalling to contemplate.) Most of these people are unable to speak a word of English and a high proportion of them have not even been subjected to proper medical checks.

We should, without further delay, give notice of our intention to withdraw from this UN Convention (twelve months’ notice is required). That does not mean that we should stop taking in refugees, although I think that their numbers should be reduced. It does mean that we should choose who they are.

• There should be an immediate major reform and reshaping of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs:

(1) Formally recognise that this Department is now as integral to our national security as the Defence Department, ASIO and the armed forces, and begin to staff it accordingly, including with respect to security checks.

(2) Change its name to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.

(3) Get rid of its present incompetent (or worse) minister, and put the portfolio in the hands of someone who can be trusted to run it (rather than be run by its senior bureaucrats) along the lines required by (1).

(4) Jettison all its current programs of official multiculturalism. As that European Union Commissioner said to Paul Kelly, “the multicultural model has failed”.

(5) Suspend, subject to (7) below, all those programs currently being run by the department that effectively provide “back door” means of entry into Australia, and subsequent access to permanent residence, by people who would fail to pass even the existing (inadequate) tests applied under the formal immigration program. For example, the Labor Party has begun protesting recently about the scandals being wrought in this area under the so-called “skilled worker” arrangements. It is true that these protests derive from trade union dislike of labour market competition. Nevertheless, in terms of protecting the integrity of our immigration policies, these programs are a disgrace to all concerned—the Department of Immigration that devised them, the minister who approved them, the employers who connive in them, and the immigration agents who work the rackets under them.

 (6) Immigration procedures are far too important to be left in the hands of private persons who have no interest in the nation’s welfare and who may even, in some cases, have quite contrary motivations. The licences of private immigration agents should be revoked, with appropriate compensation paid for loss of profit.

(7) For these and other purposes, the Prime Minister should institute a thoroughgoing investigation of the present workings of the department, with terms of reference directed to major reforms along the foregoing lines.

Do I think that any of these suggestions will find acceptance by any of our major political parties? I do not know, although so long as Mr Howard remains prime minister, and if he can be persuaded to stay home and focus on issues of real importance to Australians, there is possibly a chance of his government doing so.

What I do believe is that public anger on these matters is growing. If our existing political parties will not address the concerns responsible for that anger, then a new party will surely arise to fill the vacuum. Call it, notionally, the No More Muslims Party. I don’t look forward to its appearance, but appear it will unless the causes that will otherwise give rise to it are addressed—and quickly. Too much time has been lost already.

Posted on 03/07/2007 1:19 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
The Recorder of London should not be confused with an ordinary recorder

As Esmerelda rightly says.

If you blow an ordinary recorder it makes a squeaky noise.

Oh, wait...

Posted on 03/07/2007 1:43 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Re: Emily's Dissed

One of several similar:

"Mr. Derbyshire—-While I'm sure some effete molly-coddle bemoaning the masculinity of 'wrestling' is a plausible explanation for the textual discrepancies you found in Dickinson, it's not necessarily the cause.  Dickinson's poetry is famous for the variations that occur within different editions.  The problem is widespread enough that most citations of her poetry are referenced like translated poetry—at least in my experience.  So why it's normally reasonable to assume some philistine tampered with the language in instances like the one you describe, it's a tough case to make when Dickinson is involved."

[Derb]  Hmph.  I say that these particular variations have the greasy thumb-prints of the PC police all over them.  To prove me wrong, show me the wording of the poem as Nellie brought it home in some printed edition prior to the onset of the PC- shchina circa 1980.

Posted on 03/07/2007 1:49 PM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Re: That Guy Who...

A reader on my judge story: 

"I don't deny that the story could have taken place in England, but it's told, firsthand, but Judge Learned Hand, the man 'most often not nominated to the Supreme Court.'  He was a DC District Court Judge, and would share a carriage to work with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Hand getting off first, at the District Court, and Holmes continuing on to the Supreme Court. One day, Hand recounts, he got off the carriage and called out to Holmes- knowing it would get his goat, 'Good day, sir! Do justice!' Holmes called him back. 'I know what you're going to say," Hand said, grinning. 'That is not my job,' Holmes said, sternly pointing his finger. 'My job is to administer the law, nothing more.'

"Holmes also had a famous line about how 'the people' could 'go to hell in a handbasket, if that's what they want. I will just apply the laws they pass.'"

[Derb]  That sounds right.  It was a vague memory, and just sounded more British than American, somehow.  Worth pointing out, too, that prosecutors can't make excuses like this, as they often have to decide which bits of the law to prosecute on.  Does anyone think Fitzgerald decided well?  Or Sutton?  (Yes, Andy, I'm baiting you, since the bread-throwing event didn't come about.)

Posted on 03/07/2007 1:53 PM by John Derbyshire
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