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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
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:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky



















Monday, 30 June 2008
A Musical Interlude: You're An Old Smoothie (Debroy Somers Orch., voc. Dan Donovan)
Posted on 06/30/2008 9:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 June 2008
Don't Get a Good Education To Prepare For the Workplace

In 1933 1% of the population of Great Britain went to university. The intellectual life of the country, in which I include such informing elements as what was read, and written, in the press, was conducted at a level notably superior to that observable today, at a time, when more than half the population apparently attends university, and even gets a degree. Oh, everyone is now someone of high degree. It is even worse in the United States.

Why should this be so?

Mass pseudo-education is a mistake. It is ruining everything. It allows those who think they can think to think that, and they get in the way of those who, indeed, can. Half the time of an intelligent professor may be spent trying to deal with, and rebut, the nonsense put out by his colleagues, that he must wade through and take seriously, or pretend to. This takes time.

A shutting down of many of these schools, an end to the marketing that confuses vocational training and education ("Get a Good Education To Prepare For the Workplace"), the discouraging of university studies for most students and the intelligent replacement of universities by technical institutes that would unembarrassedly offer vocational training (including that in technology), could be accompanied by a closing of many colleges and universities. Perhaps university graduates would not be limited to, say, 1% of the population. But if the places are limited strictly on the basis of academic merit -- no demonstration of well-roundedness, nice-guyness, the joining-impulse, the summer work helping battered women or AIDS victims or working for "racial justice" here and there and everywhere, no miss personality, nothing but demonstrated academic ability, quickness of mind, would limit the numbers matriculating, and make that number close to the number graduating. Perhaps more than 1%. Perhaps 5%, or even 10.

Meanwhile, instead of mimicking the American example, where everyone waits and waits for the "college of my choice" for that just-always-over-the-horizon greatly-promised education that will make up for all the deficiencies that students endure in Grades 1 through 6, and 7 through 9, and 10 through 12 (fill in the numbers or names from your own system), years which for some, not all, can be more important, make a deeper impression, than those spent by some, not all, in university. But attention, glory, money goes to university professors, when more of it ought to go to teachers of younger students, and those who teach in the English and American secondary schools, ought to know that their work is held in high esteem, and ought to be difficult to attain, and to hold onto, in the way that teachers in lycees and licei and German or Hungarian gymnasiums were once meant to feel, and did feel, with academic results that were telling.

The hypertrophied attention to college faculty and those college years, tied up as it is with the belief that American higher education is the envy of the world -- if it is the envy of the world why, in so many fields, are half the graduate students in American universities foreigners, who did not take advantage of study in American colleges that are "the envy of the world"? In the first twelve years of regular schooling, training can be provided for all in language and literature, in the appreciation of some kinds of art, and in the rudiments of science or at least the methods of science, that will provide the sense of a shared culture, and offer the broad education of the kind a citizen a democracy needs, both to properly fulfill his civic responsibilities and his civilizational ones, and what's more, be better able to make his own life interesting, without relying on technological gewgaws to fill up his hours. And better students would no longer be sacrificed on the altar of no-child-left-behind ideologues, unwilling to take in the genetic facts of life, or the effect of what goes on outside of school, and that decides a good deal early on, though perhaps not quite as early on as used to be decided, at age 11, in English schools. Silk purses, sows' ears -- no can do. Less academic solicitousness -- other kinds of solicitousness, including putting pegs in the right holes -- for those who are indifferent or hostile or hopelessly or quasi-hopelessly dumb, and more academic solicitousness for those with a natural bent, a natural gift, might do a lot to insensibly cheer everyone up. Why must school be even more boring than it already is for those students upon whom everything rides, the very ones on whom the transmission of culture most depends.

The grader-in-chief in question should be quietly taken to task, and then to Tyburn -- resurrected like the hidden rivers, including the river after which Tyburn tree was first named, that the new Mayor claims he wishes to reveal -- and right there, quietly hung.

Posted on 06/30/2008 8:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 June 2008
Talking of Long Straight Things

Meanwhile, over at the Ethiopian News Agency there is this short piece about the re-erection of the Axum Obelisk. It’s been a long saga but it looks as if it will finally be put up again where it belongs.

 

As re-erection of the Axum obelisk gets well underway, the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) announced the unveilling due for September would be marked with programs focused on awareness raising about the need to protect Ethiopia's priceless heritages.

The obelisk looted from Ethiopia in 1937 by invading soldiers of fascist Italia was returned a couple of years ago from Rome.

I’ll miss seeing it in Rome but it does rightfully belong in Ethiopia – not something which I would normally say about treasures which end up in strange places due to the vagaries of history, but in this case it seems like justice

 

You can find the story of the Axum Obelisk across at Wikipedia .

 

You can find Axum using this map.

 

There is a photo-gallery of Axum here.

Posted on 06/30/2008 8:20 PM by John Joyce
Monday, 30 June 2008
A Musical Interlude: Me And The Clock (Roy Ingraham's Orch.)
Posted on 06/30/2008 1:53 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 June 2008
The British Police, Affirmative Action, and Muslim Infiltration

"The people I do criticise are those three who have benefited from positive action and have been elevated through the ranks."
--from the news article linked below

What this statement by Simon Humphrey means is that the three Muslim officers in question who are now suing the police have been the beneficiaries of an Affirmative Action policy -- always morally unacceptable, and in this case foolish and even dangerous. The very idea that one would wish to encourage Muslims, to promote them throughout the police, to have them rise high and discover, from the inside, police methods, and policies, when by their mere presence they will inhibit discussion, limit discussion of measures that might need to be taken, and be a permanent nightmarish security threat to the police, and therefore to the country, from within -- all this has to be discussed.

"War is deception" was Muhammad's dictum. Taqiyya, kitman, the plausible smiling imam at the Mosque Outreach, or other Muslim spokesman or defender who turns out to have been, turns out to be, quite different in his real attitudes -- as has been discovered so many times in the Western world, when a tape of a meeting is made, or an Interfaith-Racketeer ends up quickly leaving the country for the Middle East -- how often does this kind of thing have to happen, in the United States, in Great Britain, anywhere, for the Infidels to begin to get the idea. How many careful strategies for obtaining Infidel cooperation (as, say, from Western school administrators to give special treatment for Muslim students and prayer-rooms and prayer-times, or to ensure that textbooks in the West  present an airbrushed and glowing view of Islam) have to be made available on the Internet, before Infidels will begin to grasp the concept of the Stealth Jihad, the Quiet Jihad, the one that works not mainly by terrorism or combat (qitaal), but by a slow steady transformation, from within, of Infidel societies, and depends obviously in part on infiltration -- and above all, on infiltration into the police and other security services.

Great Britain does not face some undifferentiated threat whose source cannot be located. The main threat to the people of Great Britain and to their political and legal institutions is to be located in Islam, and the carriers of Islam, the willing "slaves of Allah." These are those who not only call themselves Muslims, but take to hear, choose to take to heart, the texts and tenets of Islam. And since we cannot know who does, and do does not, take to heart the texts and tenets, but have reason to believe -- history tells us, testimony from defectors (apostates) tells us, the non-apologist scholars (including those who are safely dead) tell us, that the hold of Islam over the minds of its adherents is truly extraordinary, difficult for non-Muslims to grasp -- that a great many, most, do, and since we also have no way of knowing who, for reasons having nothing to do with politics but rather with personal setbacks or mental disarray, may cease to be a "moderate" Muslim (that is, an undutiful Muslim, one who does not take it all to heart)-- there have been many such cases, for not every convinced terrorist started out that way, and not everything that caused his change was the result of politics. Mike Hawash, the Intel engineer who had come to America, married an American girl, had three little-leaguing children, was earning $360,000 a year, had some kind of change, as he rediscovered Islam, grew a beard, read the Qur'an, and after 9/11/2001, far from being shocked or embarrassed, made plans with others to go off to China, and then to Afghanistan, to fight with Al Qaeda against his fellow countryman. That is one example of a more widespread phenomenon. The failures need not be those of losing a job, or losing money in investments, or losing a girl; they can be in that large category of perceived unsuccess that is the common lot of men, and include, of course, the mental disarray -- depression, for example -- that hits at any one time a great many people, or other psychic illnesses that, if they hit Muslims, may result in what may be called "true Muslim behavior," with the pre-fabricated scapegoat of the Infidel available.

How can Western security forces, or governments, be expected to foresee, or even to recognize, much less to be able to remedy, all the setbacks that men suffer, and when the men (or women) in question are Muslims, they are likely to behave as Islam teaches them to behave, even if before their psychic disarray, they managed to be "moderate" in their Islam?

The Muslim complaint against the British police is that they are not showing the right cooperation in Muslim attempts to compile information for obvious Muslim uses. It is an attempt to constrain the British police, and to further the rising high of Muslims in the police force, beyond what individuals may merit, but not so much, as with appeals or lawsuits in other countries brought by members of non-Muslim groups who are trying to attain, by such exploitation, merely job security, and more money, for themselves that they would not, often, have attained on merit, in this case, it is an effort that is not so much about money as it is about infiltrating a force, the very force that must monitor, and constrain, Muslims who are now so obviously a threat to the future of the legal and political institutions and social understandings of Great Britain, as of all Infidel societies where Muslims have been allowed to settle in very large numbers, without any understanding of what it was they brought with them, undeclared, in their mental baggage.

Posted on 06/30/2008 12:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 June 2008
A New and Very Different Crimean War

According to this article in the Kyiv Post a new battle is raging in the waters off the Crimea.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko insisted Wednesday that a US firm will lose the rights to explore for oil and gas on a deepwater shelf off the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea as a dispute over the $13 million contract simmers.

The government unilaterally pulled out of a production-sharing agreement with the subsidiary of the Texas-based Vanco Energy Co. in April. It said the deal, signed under a previous government in 2006, amounted to "plundering Ukraine's mineral reserves."

That last is a familiar cry from underdeveloped countries whenever prices change to such an extent that they feel that they sold too cheaply in the first place. However, many international corporations are probably guilty of taking advantage of those less well versed in capitalist ways although it looks as if, in this case, poor old Vanco Energy is just being used as a pawn in local political infighting.

But [Prime Minister] Tymoshenko, who accuses [President] Yushchenko of lobbying on the firm's behalf, remained defiant Wednesday and said she would not change her mind.

At a time when what the oil market needs most is stability this sort of politicking with essential resources is much to be deprecated – especially as it comes at a time when the Ukraine is trying both to join NATO and the EU and demonstrate that it can function in a mature fashion.

 

            The US Embassy in Kiev had no immediate comment.

The deal was Ukraine's first production-sharing agreement - a type of agreement common in relatively poor countries looking to tap capital-intensive oil and gas.

This is very regrettable in another way, as well. Given the fact that most of the world’s oil is to be found under countries which could not be said to be well disposed to our Western democracies we could do without politically inspired bickering over contracts when deposits are found under a free country.

Posted on 06/30/2008 7:00 PM by John Joyce
Monday, 30 June 2008
Lydia the Tattooed Lady Revealed

The other day I linked to Lydia and rhymed her with clamydia. Commenter David C offers a penetrating analysis, and shows Lydia the Tattooed Lady kicking against the pricks.

If you watch the above clip from the movie, you'll see that when Groucho lists the three beauties that were all rolled into Lydia, the first one sounds like it rhymes with "vice". According to Nick Markovich, administrator/archivist of the Yip Harburg foundation, this was Thaïs, an Athenian courtesan who allegedly convinced Alexander the Great to burn the palace of Persepolis. Jules Massanet wrote an opera called Thaïs.

Prick her for more:

Posted on 06/30/2008 5:45 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 June 2008
No Prosecution Of Wilders In The Netherlands

CBCNews (with thanks to Alan):

Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders will not be prosecuted for making anti-Islam remarks, nor for his short film Fitna, public prosecutors announced on Monday.

"The fact that [Wilders'] statements are hurtful and offensive to a large number of Muslims does not necessarily mean that such statements are punishable," the Dutch Public Prosecution Service said in a statement.

According to prosecution spokeswoman Hanneke Festen, Dutch law forbids inciting hatred against a group based on race or religion. However, it also allows for freedom of speech.

"We came to the conclusion that [Wilders' statements] may be hurtful and painful for Muslims but they were made in the context of a debate in society," Festen said.

"That doesn't mean you can say anything, but you have to really cross a line and be unnecessarily hurtful and insulting and not add anything" to the national debate in order for prosecutors to act.

Public prosecutors said individuals filed more than 40 complaints against Wilders over the film and comments he made to the De Volkskrant and De Pers newspapers, as well as on the internet calling the Qur'an, the Islamic holybook "fascist."...

Wilders has called for the Netherlands to halt immigration from Muslim countries and also to stop the building of new mosques around the country.

Posted on 06/30/2008 3:07 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 30 June 2008
Britain - a nation of f***wits

To those readers offended by foul language, I say f*** off - and earn points for it. Dumb Britain dumbs down still further. From The Times:

Pupils are being rewarded for writing obscenities in their GCSE English examinations even when it has nothing to do with the question.

One pupil who wrote “f*** off” was given marks for accurate spelling and conveying a meaning successfully.

His paper was marked by Peter Buckroyd, a chief examiner who has instructed fellow examiners to mark in the same way. He told trainee examiners recently to adhere strictly to the mark scheme, to the extent that pupils who wrote only expletives on their papers should be awarded points.

To gain minimum marks in English, students must demonstrate “some simple sequencing of ideas” and “some words in appropriate order”. The phrase had achieved this, according to Mr Buckroyd.

So if he'd written "off f***," would he still have got the points?

He also acknowledged that the language was inappropriate – but added that using the construction “different to” would also be inappropriate language.

That's right. It's just like confusing "may" and "might" or using an Oxford comma. And who are we to judge? Philip Larkin started with the F-word and worked it up into a whole poem.

The choice phrase, given in answer to the question “Describe the room you’re sitting in”, on a 2006 GCSE paper, was not punctuated. “If it had had an exclamation mark it would have got a little bit more because it would have been showing a little bit of skill,” Mr Buckroyd said, “We are trying to give higher marks to the students who show more skills.”

Words fail me, but what the f*!$%%, who needs them?

Posted on 06/30/2008 11:40 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 June 2008
Al Qaeda Grows In Pakistan

In the New Duranty, Mark Mazzetti and David Rhode detail the infighting between CIA bureaus and lack of cooperation by Pakistan that has allowed Al-Qaeda to regroup.

WASHINGTON: Late last year, top Bush administration officials decided to take a step they had long resisted. They drafted a secret plan to authorize the Pentagon's Special Operations forces to launch missions into the snow-capped mountains of Pakistan to capture or kill top leaders of Al Qaeda.

Intelligence reports for more than a year had been streaming in about Osama bin Laden's terror network rebuilding in the Pakistani tribal areas, a problem that had been exacerbated by years of missteps in Washington and the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, sharp policy disagreements, and turf battles between American counterterrorism agencies.

The new plan, outlined in a highly classified Pentagon order, was designed to eliminate some of those battles. And it was meant to pave an easier path into the tribal areas for American commandos, who for years have bristled at what they see as Washington's risk-averse attitude toward Special Operations missions inside Pakistan. They also argue that catching Bin Laden will come only by capturing some of his senior lieutenants alive.

But more than six months later, the Special Operations forces are still waiting for the green light. The plan has been held up in Washington by the very disagreements it was meant to eliminate. A senior Defense Department official said there was "mounting frustration" in the Pentagon at the continued delay.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush committed the nation to a "war on terrorism" and made the destruction of Bin Laden's network the top priority of his presidency. But it is increasingly clear that the Bush administration will leave office with Al Qaeda having successfully relocated its base from Afghanistan to Pakistan's tribal areas, where it has rebuilt much of its ability to attack from the region and broadcast its messages to militants across the world...

Posted on 06/30/2008 6:07 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 30 June 2008
Muslim convert to face terror trial
From The Driffield Post. Another trial to keep an eye on.
A Muslim convert is to go on trial accused of preparing an act of terrorism in Rotherham. Nicholas Roddis, 22, of Reedham Drive, Bramley, will go on trial at Leeds Crown Court.
He faces 13 charges, including one of engaging in preparation of an act of terrorism and 11 counts of possessing an article for a terrorist purpose.
They relate to containers of hydrogen peroxide and acetone, a mobile phone and a computer, a quantity of nails, railway detonators, a bomb-making recipe, a diary, and a list "which included the particulars of terrorist acts".
He is also charged with placing a hoax bomb on a bus.
Posted on 06/30/2008 6:14 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 30 June 2008
Jacqui Smith pressured to intervene in police (Muslim) race row
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, is being pressured to intervene in a race row after chief constables were accused of ignoring an inquiry into discrimination against Muslim officers.
It was conducted jointly by the National Association of Muslim Police and the think-tank Demos, and questioned the 43 police forces in England and Wales on the promotional prospects, rank and number of Muslim and black officers employed.
After only 23 forces responded, the president of the association, Zaheer Ahmad, urged the Home Secretary to order a "critical review" of racism in the police.
In a letter written to Miss Smith and all chief constables, he said: "Why were some forces unable or unwilling to co-operate, while others completed in full and on time? Why did some forces refuse to complete on grounds of the pretext of the Data Protection Act, (that’s actually a valid concern; an officer's promotion prospects are supposed to be confidential; his or her religious beliefs are personal as well) while others said they did not have the time to take part?
"If the police are serious about ensuring that Muslim officers are able to rise through the ranks at the same speed as their fellow white officers, and ensuring that Muslims are deployed to counter-terrorism duties at a time of heightened national security, we must have reliable data to track progress and measure success." The audit includes figures which show that Muslim officers were almost "entirely absent" from specialist operations, such as counter-terrorism.
I understand that in certain specific cases a Muslim officer's affiliation to a particular mosque or iman has resulted in that officer not receiving sufficient higher security clearance. In my opinion all police officers should be cleared to that standard, not just the specialists.
Tarique Ghaffur, Britain's most senior Muslim officer, (who) is planning to sue for alleged discrimination. Mr Ghaffur has compiled a dossier of at least 30 allegations of discrimination and political in-fighting at the top of the Metropolitan police and the Home Office. Meanwhile, Simon Humphrey, the recently retired chairman of the Met's Superintendents' Association, has criticised three senior Asian officers: Mr Ghaffur, Ali Dizaei, the president of the National Black Police Association who backed his complaint, and Commander Shabir Hussain, who launched a discrimination claim last week.
"Sir Ian had been extremely fair and consistent in his approach towards diversity. The people I do criticise are those three who have benefited from positive action and have been elevated through the ranks," he said.
As I (and I am not alone) keep saying Islam is not a race. It is an ideology. Zaheer Ahmed is concerned about the progress of Muslim officers against white officers thus defining his Muslim protégées as non white. How are non white Christian officers faring? Hindu and Sikhs?
Membership of some ideologies is banned in the police, eg racism as evidenced by membership of the BNP.
Posted on 06/30/2008 6:08 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 30 June 2008
Journalistic Responsibility

Is there no sense of responsibility on the part either of Seymour Hersh, or of those who publish his stuff? In order to possess that sense, in this case, you would have to have informed yourself about the texts and tenets of Islam, about the attitudes of those who run the Islamic Republic of Iran, about the history of the Middle East and Islamic conquest of non-Muslim lands, about the model of Muhammad and the stance taken toward treaties with non-Muslims. You'd have to know something about world history, and beyond knowing those facts, you would have to have acquired some historical sense, some feeling for history.

You'd also have to have some sense of the responsibility of the journalist in a free society that is in a war, a war that it did not invite, scarcely knows is being waged, and does not understand what prompts its enemies, or what instruments they most effectively employ.

The New Yorker could try to carry stories that will make sense of Islam for its readers. It could try to familiarize them with such words as "Jizyah" and "dhimmi" and such important matters as Muhammad as the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil. It might try to explain why the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya is so important. But it has done none of that. It publishes those who, while they may have had some encounter with Bin Laden, or written some topical stuff about Al Qaeda, give no sign of having sat down and studied, and then assimilated, and then thought and re-thought about, the problem of Islam, and of Muslims in relation to Infidels. Would Shawn, would Ross, have given that kind of aid, during World War II, to an enemy that posed a threat of a similar magnitude?

No.

Posted on 06/30/2008 5:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 29 June 2008
A Musical Interlude: Sugar (Lee Wiley)
Posted on 06/29/2008 8:25 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Hersh: US Getting Ready To Hit Iran

I'm quite sure we'll let the Israelis take out the Iranian nuclear project alone unless it looks like the Iranians might retaliate against our troops in Iraq, then we'll take out much of that capability too. Personally, I'd like to see a joint US-Israeli mission on this.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has launched a "significant escalation" of covert operations in Iran, sending U.S. commandos to spy on the country's nuclear facilities and undermine the Islamic republic's government, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday.

White House, CIA and State Department officials declined comment on Hersh's report, which appears in this week's issue of The New Yorker.

Hersh told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that Congress has authorized up to $400 million to fund the secret campaign, which involves U.S. special operations troops and Iranian dissidents.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have rejected findings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran has halted a clandestine effort to build a nuclear bomb and "do not want to leave Iran in place with a nuclear program," Hersh said.

"They believe that their mission is to make sure that before they get out of office next year, either Iran is attacked or it stops its weapons program," Hersh said...

Posted on 06/29/2008 6:48 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Inverted snobbery

Perplexed by his high-powered lesbian colleagues, a diamond geezer in the excellent TV series This Life asks: "Where is Radclyffe Hall?"

Where indeed? Away with the fairies, that's where.

The Well of Loneliness was one of those worthy books that one was supposed to read. I tried it and got bored. This is probably my fault, but understandable at the time. I was working long hours in a demanding, precarious and tedious job. I felt little sympathy with a character, "invert" or not, who had a private income and nothing to do all day but find herself and get depressed. 

Speaking of self-indulgent, whining bints with nothing to moan about, Virginia Woolf gets a free pass from normally sensible ex-northerner, Jeanette Winterson. (See Theodore Dalrymple's scathing comments on Woolf's "servant problem" for a more realistic view.) Winterson thinks Orlando is “sexy, provocative and tantalising”:

It has every power to suggest that a commitment to gender is a waste of half a life.

Perhaps Orlando is sexy, provocative and tantalising - I haven't read it. But if it suggests that "a commitment to gender is a waste of half a life", then it is silly.

Leaving aside the absurd phrase "commitment to gender", or "genre" as our winning apprentice would call it, this “half a life” thing makes no sense to me. Those magazine articles you see, where a woman lives "as a man" for a day, or vice versa, make no sense either. If I were to spend a typical day - office, pub/theatre/eat, home/eat, TV, blog, bed - "as a man", the main difference for me would be that I would use a different toilet. Much would be the same. I would get up, put on trousers and a shirt (but I call it a top), go to work and so forth. Of course, if I were a man, I would be able to speak forthrightly, and make dirty jokes. Oh, wait…

Many women's lives are different from mine. I have no children, and little interest in make-up. I don't claim to speak for all women or about all men. But generally, I have far more in common with an enlightened Western man - and wear less make-up than some - than with a Saudi or Somali woman.

Islam sees men and women as different species. Ne’er the twain shall meet – at least not as equals. Even the men in Islam waste half a life, and the women have their whole lives wasted for them.

The battle of the sexes must surely take second place to the battle for civilisation.

Posted on 06/29/2008 4:18 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Malapropism of the month

Lee McQueen, roughest of rough diamonds and winner of The Apprentice, on presenting his new brand of tissues:

 "We've aimed our product at the female genre."

Genre? I suppose he's trying extra hard to avoid sex. Tissues may come in handy.

Posted on 06/29/2008 3:29 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Wilders Vs. Dedecker

Here is an interesting interview blogged by Paul Belien:

Yesterday, the Belgian establishment newspaper De Standaard published a double interview with the Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the Flemish politician Jean-Marie Dedecker.

De Standaard: There are also large differences between the two of you. Mr Dedecker is opposed to prohibiting things, whereas you [Geert Wilders] want to prohibit all kinds of things, starting with the Koran. […]

Wilders: That I want to prohibit all sort of things is complete nonsense. I only want to prohibit things to defend our rule of law. I am still enough of a liberal to prohibit things only in the most extreme cases. I do not like to prohibit books at all. You will never hear me advocate prohibiting other books.

De Standaard: Do you also feel that our rule of law is threatened in this way, Mr Dedecker?

Dedecker: I feel threatened by the fact that the separation between church and state is diminishing. But I have no existential angst. There are two major phobias at present in our society: Islamophobia and climatophobia. Both are being promoted.

(To Wilders) You think that Eurabia is a danger. I disagree. Our enlightenment values are strong enough to withstand this. However, we have to wake up. What the politically correct Left has done to our society explains our [electoral] success.

Wilders: If you say that we must wake up, this means that the leftist political elite is sleeping at this moment. That is exactly the reason why our enlightenment ideas do not prevail. Because those leftist politicians, who have become ever more dependent on [the votes of] immigrant groups, will sleep on.

Dedecker: I think prohibiting the Koran is a form of overacting. We shouldn’t prohibit any books: neither Mein Kampf nor the Koran. The Bible, the Thora and the Koran are but fairy tale books. That is what you have to dare tell the people. If religion manifests itself as collective madness, then we must dare to oppose it and start the debate.

Wilders: The Koran is a diabolic book rather than a fairy tale book. It is also, unlike the other books which you refer to – and which I would not call fairy tale books, but it is your right to do so – a book from which people draw inspiration today to commit terrorist acts and exclude women and homosexuals from my community and execrate the separation of church and state. Fairy tale books do not do such things. Fairy tale books concern the Efteling or Walibi [Dutch and Belgian theme parks; equivalents of Disneyland]

Dedecker: I am opposed to the wearing of headscarfs by civil servants, I am opposed to separate swimming hours [for men and women] in swimming pools, but is this a reason to prohibit the Koran? On the contrary, I am one hundred percent behind our own values. And I am as much criticised for this as you. […]

[To Wilders] Up to a certain extent you are also a Zionist. I find that very strange of you.

Wilders: A Zionist? What next?

Dedecker: The way you always defend Israel – as a matter of fact this happens much more in the Netherlands than in Belgium. We both have visited Israel and the Palestinian territories. I consider Zionism and Islamism as similar phenomena. You constantly defend Israel although you know what is being inflicted there on the Palestinians. Do you do that perhaps because Zionism is the counterpart of Islamism?

Wilders: It is interesting that you say this. Zionist goes perhaps a bit far, but I am, indeed, a convinced defender of Israel. Because Israel is an oasis of democracy and Western values in the Middle East. I have also been in other countries in the region, from Syria via Iran to Afghanistan: all these countries are dictatorships. Israel is the only country where a majority in parliament can dismiss a minister – as members of parliament you and I should be able to appreciate that.

I am biased in favour of Israel. Is that so bad? No, I am even proud of it. You have to make up your own mind, but you, too, should be proud of every democracy in the world.

Dedecker:
You are partly right. But that does not justify Israel’s apartheid policies – and that is exactly what I reject. I call Israel a kippah democracy.

Wilders: I have a different opinion. Palestinians who are living in Gaza and on the West Bank at this moment, could very well move to the other side of the Jordan – to Jordan or other areas. There is space and place enough there and many Palestinians already live there.

De Standaard: So you also favour ethnic cleansing?

Wilders: That is not ethnic cleansing. Israel can justly claim those regions. Moreover we do not have to harm anyone, but I see what happens today: Hamastan, governs Gaza.

Dedecker: Why should the Palestinians have to go to Jordan? The Palestinians are the outcasts of the Middle East: they are not welcome anywhere. These are people who were driven from their territory on the basis of an international treaty and pseudo property rights granted by the Thora or the Bible. Property rights on the basis of fairy tale books.

Wilders: For me the security of Israel as a democracy prevails on the rights of a group who is to a large extent guilty of terror and corruption. There is no democratic Palestinian authority – that is the sad truth. I am convinced that the attacks which Israel suffers from radical Islam are attacks aimed at us.

Dedecker: Isn't it the opposite? Research shows that three fourth of the suicide terrorists are motivated by the fate of the Palestinians. If we solve that situation, would it not lead to a safer world for all of us? Meanwhile we have to spend billions and billions on our own security.

100% of Muslim suicide bombers are motivated by Islam, if three fourths also include the motivation of killing Jews and taking back the formerly Muslim land of Israel, that's still an Islamic motivation. If Israel didn't exist, Muslims would still have the Islamic motivation to attack (or to support jihad more broadly by using wealth, the pen or tongue and/or demographic conquest) elsewhere.

Posted on 06/29/2008 2:04 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Islam Is Greatest Threat To Church

Alison Ruoff shows great courage. This is from The Telegraph:

Divisions in the Church of England over homosexuality and women bishops are nothing compared with the threat it faces from Islam, a prominent member of its governing body has warned.

More than 1,000 conservative Anglicans have been meeting in Jerusalem this week to develop a new movement within the worldwide Communion, in order to combat liberals who they say are departing from the Bible's teaching by supporting gay clergy.

Next week the General Synod, the Church of England's parliament, gathers in York to discuss the introduction of women bishops without provisions for those who oppose the historic move, which could see dozens of conservative clergy leave the church and claim millions in compensation.

But Alison Ruoff, an evangelical lay member of the Synod and a former magistrate who is at the Gafcon summit in Jerusalem, told The Daily Telegraph that the church needs to get past these divisions and concentrate on fighting the rise of Islam in Britain.

She says that under an Archbishop of Canterbury who said it is inevitable that elements of Sharia will be introduced in the UK, the church has not done enough to put its message across.

And she believes the Government, out of politically correct sensitivity, is not preventing the growth of Muslim communities which do not integrate with those around them.

Mrs Ruoff, who earlier this year called for a halt to mosque building in Britain, said: "The problems of homosexuality and women bishops which face the Church of England are minor compared with the threat to the church and the nation from Islam.

"The church is sleepwalking into an Islamic state. Hopefully we can unite against it.

"The leaders of the church have lost their confidence in the Gospel. We have got an Archbishop of Canterbury who doesn't stand up for Christianity but wants a degree of Sharia law.

"The church should be getting out with the Christian message.

"Our Government is allowing it to happen out of political correctness, but it should be protecting our values and heritage."

She added that many people share her fears but do not like to speak out about it in case they are criticised.

"People are genuinely worried. There's a general concern in the nation about its building blocks being rapidly eroded.

"But we are very afraid of the law and of being persecuted. The police in many respects are standing up for Islam rather than Christianity."

Mrs Ruoff believes the problem with the growth of Islam in Britain is that some communities do not integrate, and that some immigrant imams do not learn English, leading to segregation.

She fears that if these communities introduce Islamic law, all non-Muslims and women will be treated as second-class citizens by them...

Posted on 06/29/2008 1:46 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
The "Palestinian People," Golda Meir, And Not Giving An Inch

"Sayed Kashua is a talented Israeli-Arab journalist and novelist.." [from the Times piece quoted below]

 A talented "Israeli-Arab" journalist and author? Why isn't he a talented "Palestinian" journalist and author? Is the word "Palestinian" a term of national and ethnic identity, or is merely a geographic term, or is it a geographic term posing, when the need arises, as a national and ethnic identity, for Arab and Muslim propagandistic purposes?

The very same people, including Israelis, who unembarrassedly note the existence,  in Iraq, of the "Kurds and the Arabs," or who in discussing Algeria or Morocco mention the "Arabs and the Berbers," or who -- even the egregious Kristof does it-- write about the Sudan where the "Arabs" make war on the "black Africans" -- the same people who will also talk or write about the "Israeli Arabs," will nonetheless seldom or never write about "the Palestinian Arabs" but, rather, carefully or carelessly, about "the Palestinian people."

And they do this automatically, unselfconsciously, without feeling the need to explain whny the Arabs of Iraq and of Algeria and of the Sudan are just the "Arabs" but suddenly become, when they live in Gaza or in the "West Bank" or in any of the other Arab states or indeed anywhere in the world, are no longer "Arabs" but "Palestinians," those who belong to the "Palestinian people."

No one would call Ted Koppel, whose parents fled Nazi Germany, a "German refugee" nor call Kissinger, or still more crazily, his son or grandchildren, "German refugees." No one would call Dmitri Nabokov a "Russian refugee."If you refer to the Arabs who live anywhere in territories that were once part of Mandatory Palestine, but were won by Israel in a war of self-defense in 1967 as, say, the "Gazan Arabs" or the "West Bank Arabs" you will feel, at first, a little strange. If you call those Arabs who, living outside of Israel and the territories it won in 1967, originated in the area, anything but "Palestinians" you will be made to feel as if you are doing wrong. That is how clever, and damaging to Israel's interest, and resilient, this unique branding of a subset of the Arabs has become.  

It is the same with those who were once called (not quite accurately) "Arab refugees" but have since the Six-Day War been carefully called "Palestinian refugees." Not only have those who left Mandatory Palestine (or, after May 15, 1948, the State of Isarel) been renamed the "Palestinians" but it is treated as being an inheritable condition. No other refugees in the world are so treated. After the first generation, those who are born elsewhere are referred to by their new places of origin, not those of their fathers or grandfathers. No one would call Ted Koppel, whose parents fled Nazi Germany, a "German refugee" or still more crazily, call his daugher, or Henry Kissinger's son, "German refugees" or even "Germans." No one calls Dmitri Nabokov or other children of people who fled the Bolsheviks as "Russian refugees" but as "the son or daughter of Russian refugees." And it is the same with others, who left this or that place. Even leaving aside the very doubtful notion that the Arabs who left Mandatory Palestine in the fall of 1947 and up to mid-May 1948 can be called "refugees" -- they left because they knew the Arab armies would attack, as they did, and wanted to remove themselves from the area of conflict because they were certain those Arab armies would triumph, and they would simply return, delicately stepping over the corpses of the Jewish men, women, and children who would be the victims, so every Arab thought, of a "massacre the likes of which would not have been seen since the days of the Mongols" -- which is what Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, assured everyone would be the outcome. "

After the Six-Day War, the Arabs simply renamed those Arabs who lived in Gaza and the "West Bank" or were living, as "Arab refugees," in other Arab countries, on the permanent UNRWA dole, as the "Palestinian people." This was part of the strategy to refashion, or repackage, the conflict not as one between hundreds of millions of Arab Muslims, intent on destroying the Infidel nation-state of Israel, but as a conflict, rather, "between two tiny peoples," a struggle for the  "legitimate rights" of the "Palestinian people"   so the narrative went,  and the real story -- of a Jihad conducted against the tiny Infidel nation-state of Israel, was presented in a comically bowlderized version, so as not to scare the women, the horses, or Western diplomats intent on peace-processing and treaty-making and all the rest of it,  diplomats who would not hear of, and would not study themselves, the real views of Muslims on what treaties with Infidels are, and must be, all about.

Few inside Israel, and even fewer elsewhere, appeared to notice, much less wanted to call attention to, what should have immediately been understood as a carefully-planned propagandistic presto-chango, by which the Jihad against Israel, which had been undisguised before 1967 -- for example, in the speeches by Arafat's predecessor Ahmed Shukairy, or in the statements made by Arab rulers and diplomats addressing Arab audiences in which they would promise to destroy Israel, to eliminate it. After the invention of the "Palestinian people"  a for-infidels-only version of the Arab war on Israel became more easily offered, and the Western diplomats and journalists were among those who, seemingly permanent ignorant of, or wilfully inattentive to, Islam, were those keenest to believe that an Arab-Israeli settlement (and not merely an Israeli surrender of rights as part of a never-ending series leading to ultimate disaster) was possible, was attainable, if a series of "if onlys" were met:  "if only" Israel did this or did that, "if only" some American President stuck to his guns, and paid enough attention to the "peace-making process,"  without worrying about domestic politics (i.e., the so-called Jewish lobby, whose power was always greatly exaggerated, and far inferior to the power of the Saudi lobby, which also meant the Islam lobby).

What is strange is that nowadays, when so many know so much more, have been forced to learn so much more,  about Islam, and therefore about the source of Arab and Muslim opposition to the existence of Israel, is that even some who are sympathetic to Israel are reluctant to admit that the whole "Palestinian people" business is and always was merely a matter of propaganda, endlessly rerpeated. They don't want to work to undo the Arab success. They are tired, and don't think  it a battle worth fighting. They justify their inability to undo what has been done by various means. Some think:  to themselves: well, maybe the "Palestinian people" was originally an obvious absurdity,   but don't such a people now exist? Haven't a whole forty years gone by in which that "Palestinian national consciousness" has been created? And so on.

This is nonsense. The exaggerated, hyper-conscious insistence on the supposed "construction of a 'Palestinian' Identity," along with all the stuff that has been done in that line -- for example, the dutiful creation of a few "Palestinian folk dances" made up as part of that fake identity that is presented to the credulous outside world -- should have been the signal that the whole effort, which would not be needed for a real people, bespeaks not a genuine nation, but an artificial construct.

A just-published review in "Commentary" of a book on Golda Meir offers an example of someone (Dean Godson) who, while hardly being unsympathetic to Israel (quite the contrary), nonetheless can write this:  "On the Palestinian question [by which it appears the author of the review, Dean Godson, means the existence of this "Palestinian people"] Golda has become much too right-wing for contemporary tastes, especially in her supposed denial of the existence of a Palestinian nation."

There was nothing "supposed" about that denial. Golda Meir  flatly refused to believe any of that stuff about the "Palestinian people" because she was present at the creation -- the creation of the phrase, the creation of the idea, the creation of the myth, the whole transparent "construction-of-the-Palestinian-identity" project that nearly all of the Arabs, and seemingly half the non-Arabs, getting degrees on something to do with the Middle East, appear to have taken as their doctoral-dissertation topics, and then manage to put these dissertations between hard covers, and apparently have no trouble getting university presses to publish the stuff.

Golda Meir denied that there was a "Palestinian people" because in her entire life -- as a young woman in the United States,  in Mandatory Palestine, and then in the State of Israel -- the Arabs had always been the Arabs. They never called themselves the "Palestinian people." They didn't do so in 1948 either, or during the Suez Conflict. They didn't do so in the period leading to the Six-Day War in 1967. It took a while for them, after that war, and their many helpful foreign public-relations advisers and experts, to recognize the efficacy of declaring the Arab population that  was on the spot, and constituted the shock troops of the Jihad against Israel, a Jihad that is not so much about the actual well-being of those local Arabs (which doesn't matter very much to the other Arabs, if at all), but about creating the conditions, absent the possibility of an immediate all-out military assault, by which Israel would be weakened, territorially, economically, morally, and of course also militarily, so that by degrees, as it weakened, and was subject to terror attacks from within and without, the people of Israel would become disheartened, disenchanted, divided, unable to think straight.

It might work.

Or, if Israelis simply  recognize the truth about the war being made on them, a war that is merely a classic Jihad  with some novel instruments substituted for the old qitaal or combat -- it will be salutary for them and for their supporters. Part of the truth they need to recognize is that the "Palestinian people" is a construct designed to hide the fact that the war is Islam-based, is a Jihad, and will not be softened, much less come to an end, if Israel does not hold firm to its own legal, historic, and moral claims to every dunam now under its control. Dutiful Arab Muslims -- and that means most of them -- will find their appetites whetted, not sated, by further Israeli concessions -- and part of that truth is to stop talking about, and stop letting others talk unopposed about, this goddam "Palestinian people" -- about Islam, the situation, far from being hopeless, will become manageable, because at last what was always there will at last be grimly understood.  

It would be a good thing too, if everyone who saw things more or less correctly were not tempted to make any concessions, especially by fooling themselves that "it's not a battle worth fighting" or "that's already been decided."

Nothing has been decided. Every gain by the Arabs and Muslims is reversible. The "Palestinian people" business can be, should be, undone at every opportunity.

Posted on 06/29/2008 1:14 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 29 June 2008
A Musical Interlude: You Wouldn't Fool Me, Would You? (Annette Hanshaw)
Posted on 06/29/2008 11:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Ockham's Metaphysics

Bruce Thornton has an interesting review of George Weigel's book, Against the Grain: Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace, at City Journal. Like Richard Weaver, Weigel locates the origin of the modern breakdown of metaphysics and morality in William of Ockham. Weaver traces Ockham's thought through Puritanism and on into modern liberalism.

...Weigel’s essay “Two Ideas of Freedom” begins by critically examining Isaiah Berlin’s influential notion of “positive” and “negative” freedom: the former is the freedom “to,” which allows us to pursue some perceived greater good; the latter is freedom “from,” particularly from governmental intrusion into private life and interference in the individual’s pursuit of happiness. But Berlin fails to address “the crucial question,” Weigel writes, which is “the truth about man—the truth about the human person—on which any defense of human freedom with real traction must ultimately rest.” Thus Berlin’s notion of freedom reduces it “to a matter of one human faculty—the will—alone.”

Pointing out that Berlin’s analysis is rooted in Enlightenment philosophy and ignores earlier thinkers, Weigel revisits pre-Enlightenment thinking in his discussion of William of Ockham and Saint Thomas Aquinas. For Aquinas, freedom “is a means to human excellence, to human happiness, to the fulfillment of human destiny,” Weigel writes. Freedom helps us to “choose wisely and to act well as a matter of habit.” Only then can we pursue happiness suitable for a rational, moral creature and “build free and virtuous societies in which the rights of all are acknowledged, respected, and protected in law.”

In contrast to Aquinas, Berlin’s intellectual ancestor Ockham reduces freedom to “a neutral faculty of choice, and choice is everything—for choice is a matter of self-assertion, of power,” Weigel writes. Thus freedom has nothing to do with goodness, truth, or virtue. The moral life is now severed from human nature, and humans are severed from one another, “for there can be no ‘common good’ if there are only the particular goods of particular men and women who are each acting out their own particular willfulness.” Moreover, by putting reason into conflict with freedom, Ockham “created a situation in which there are only two options: determinisms of a biological, racial, or ideological sort, or the radical relativism” that eventually leads to nihilism. “In either case,” Weigel believes, “freedom self-destructs.”

Weigel traces the consequences of an Ockhamite understanding of freedom shorn from virtue and moral truth, or the “freedom of indifference” that dominates “much of Western high culture.” Advances in genetics and biotechnology entice us with the promise of human engineering for perfection and immortality, while cloning and stem-cell research destroy human embryos in the service of various ends. By ignoring Aquinas’s notion of “freedom for excellence” we are unlikely “to deploy our new genetic knowledge in ways that lead to human flourishing rather than to the soulless dystopia of the brave new world.” More immediately dangerous is moral relativism, which has been on display throughout the culture in response to the challenge of Islamic jihad; it is an outgrowth of the separation of freedom from moral truth. Meeting the Islamist challenge, Weigel writes, requires not the flabby tolerance or guilty self-loathing engendered by such moral relativism, but rather a patriotism that is the “expression of a nobler concept of freedom than mere willfulness.” For ultimately, “Homo Voluntatis cannot give an account of a freedom worth sacrificing, even dying, for.” Absent such patriotism, we will end up in the state of appeasement that Weigel documents in his essay “Is Europe Dying?,” a brilliant survey of a culture that can no longer reproduce itself or act against Islam’s “aggressive anti-humanism fueled by a distorted theism.”...

Posted on 06/29/2008 10:45 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Cliché corner

Am I the only person in the world who thinks "am I the only person in the world" is a cliché?

And pseudo-archaic word order does not a cliché make. Not after the first few times.

And when will people stop saying "poster child"? Why did they ever start?

Posted on 06/29/2008 9:49 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Quote Of The Day

New Duranty:

Sayed Kashua is a talented Israeli-Arab journalist and novelist who writes in Hebrew. On the one hand, Kashua says, Hebrew is “the language of the enemy, the conqueror.” But at the same time, “there are things I can write about in Hebrew that I cannot write about in Arabic. ... I need Hebrew to write about freedom.”

Posted on 06/29/2008 8:53 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Some Operatic and Orchestral Interludes – Courtesy of My Father – and a few thoughts thereon

This Queen of Babylon, the incomparable Joan Sutherland, does such justice to the role and sings this great aria from Rossini’s Semiramide so superbly that one just knows, has to know, that she, and this, are indeed a ‘Bright ray of hope’ – bel raggio lusinghier. Let’s face it, we need all the bright rays of hope which we can get these days! I first heard this great Diva at the Fenice, I think, singing Gilda when my father took me there as a very young child more years ago than I care to remember – and many years before the last fire! This is but a pale shadow of that first childhood experience.

 

Afterwards, my father, wise old man that he was, is, took me out to eat at a cafe in the Calle Larga de l'Ascension, in San Marco – sorry, I can’t, after all these years, remember the name of the cafe we dined in (but I could walk you there tomorrow), but I know, I remember, that wonderful sense of being two grown up men together – father and son – out on the town, even though I was just a child my memory invests that night with a great significance. I’m sure that you know how important I felt that I was – I’d just been invited into the grown-up world by the most important male adult in my life – my wonderful father.

 

He had, still has, a superb understanding of everything that we are. My father was, is still, a believer in freedom, in art, in culture, in science, in us; in short, he is a polymath – a modern polymath, for he is a practical man – a chartered engineer – but, and most importantly, a cultured and tolerant man who introduced me, as a child, to the great arts – and to great music.

 

So, my beloved father, this is for you. Oh, and thanks for the Grosser Tiergarten and for believing in me so much that you made me face No. 4, Tiergartenstrasse, that stupid bus station – how banal, what on earth was I afraid of – last year, and thank-you for holding my hand and weeping with me – it haunts me still, as you meant it to, and, as I limp through life now, now at last, I see what you wanted me to see.

 

And thank-you, my dear, dear father, for teaching me how not to hate but to love and to love , despite that stupid autobus station in Berlin.

 

And thank-you for teaching me to recognise intolerance and hatred – even in myself – that was a hard lesson to learn.

 

So now I want to say just one simple thing:

 

“Thank-you, Dad.”

Posted on 06/29/2008 7:28 AM by John Joyce
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