Saturday, February 14, 2009

"The Free World Fatwas Itself."

Mark Steyn also goes yard:

Andrew's post from this morning on Geert Wilders has stayed with me all day — especially this line from Edmund Standing:

How is [British Foreign Secretary] Miliband any better than Muslims who screamed about The Satanic Verses without bothering to read it?

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Ayatollah's fatwa against Salman Rushdie over The Satanic Verses. Two decades on, who needs the mullahs? These days western nations are happy to fatwa their own. It's now a familiar pattern.

If you threaten violence, the authorities cave in, and do the mob's bidding in the interests of "public order" — as they did in Toronto on Wednesday, when thugs attacked a Jewish center:

The police demanded that the center itself close down — punishing the innocent and achieving the goal of the mob.

If you're a "moderate Muslim" who gets death threats and complains to the authorities,

The police will dispatch two burly Muslim police officers. These gentlemen will warn the complainer to button it, lest he rile up restive Muslims.

If young Muslim girls are being kidnapped and forced into marriage with their first cousins, the British Home Office minister will suggest that these matters are best handled discreetly and informally. If young Muslim girls are being murdered in "honor killings", the Chief Commissar of the Ontario "Human Rights" Commission will explain that they're a "small commission" and they have to be able to prioritize and that Mark Steyn is a far greater threat to the Queen's peace than killers of Muslim women.

But, if you don't threaten violence, if you don't issue death threats, if you don't kill anyone, if you just make a movie or write a book or try to give a speech, the state will prosecute you, ban you or (in the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali) force you to flee your own country.

In their appeasement of thugs, buffoons like Miliband and the Tory squishes across the House of Commons on the Opposition benches are making it very clear that the state accords more respect to violence than to debate. As I said to my interrogators in Ontario this week:

When you go down that road, all you do is lead to the situation that you have in, say, Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, you can't start a newspaper and print what you think, so if you object to the House of Saud, the only thing you can do is blow stuff up.

In Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and elsewhere (as the Instaprof has often noted) the state is teaching a very dangerous lesson.

As Mark Steyn notes, Happy Fatwa 20th Anniversary. Marvel at how much worse things have gotten since.

Kathy Shaidle knocks one out of the park.

Or pulls a Darryl Sittler, given her nation of birth.

Free Speech--for me and thee:

During WW2, we spoke of "the Germans" and "the Japanese".

No "not all" to be seen.

It was understood by normal, sane, patriotic and intelligent ordinary people that not every single solitary German was a Nazi. Even before we learned the story of Oskar Schindler and other "righteous gentiles," U.S. citizens spoke of "good Germans" whose existence they were certain of. There were indeed angry Americans who beat up their German neighbors. Interestingly, there was no similar backlash against Muslims after 9/11.

We knew there were "good Japanese" too -- at least on our shores. Despite real (as opposed to imaginary persecution), Japanese Americans volunteered to serve their adopted country and became the most decorated unit, not just during WW2, but in the entire history of the US armed forces. (Alas, a similar parallel does not exist in our current conflict for some reason.)

It was common knowledge that, yes, the Germans had invented all kinds of wonderful things and created lovely music and so forth, in a (real) glorious past (as opposed to the sometimes imaginary glorious past frequently cited by Muslim apologists.)

Likewise the Japanese.

However, at that particular moment in time, the Japanese were mutilating American G.Is and running slave brothels, while the Germans were embarked on a mission to wipe out Europe's Jews and other "undesirables."

In response, Dr. Suess and Chuck Jones made some nasty cartoons, as every college kid knows.

(Oh, and we actually killed our enemies back in those days, instead of interrogating them in Laz-E-Boy chairs and feeding them 3000 calorie a day halal meals.)

But as far as your average leftist/Muslim apologist/Canadian MP is concerned, those cartoons of Dr. Suess are worse than, say, this. (Something few university students learn about, because, hey, those cartoons are so much cooler to bash.)

Read. It. All. I don't always agree with every jot and tittle she writes, and that's entirely the point--she should be able to keep writing what she wants anyway. And--here's the kicker--she's far, far more right than wrong--especially here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Glories of Toledo.

I had the privilege of meeting Jeffrey Smith, resident of and unofficial art and architectural historian for the city of Toledo, as well as being a world class raconteur and a noted blogger (I think he prefers it in that order). We grabbed dinner and he regaled me with stories about Toledo, history, and why he's a city boy these days.

It didn't take any arm-twisting at all, and he agreed to take myself and Jay on a tour of the world-class Toledo Museum of Art. The one down note--he's threatening (from my perspective) to put up a pro-Ohio Toledo War page on Facebook. No one's perfect.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

For your consideration: two political hypotheses.

I'm not a reliable prognosticator, but here goes:

1. 9/11 "truth"erism was a peculiarly deranged byproduct of disdain for George W. Bush, and will, with the election of President Obama, wither away to nothing within 2 years.

2. If the economy really tanks (hard landing and not soft), we will see from the right re-runs of the old conspiracy theories about Clinton, except applied to Obama. And, unfortunately, these will gain much more traction than those against the 42nd President.

Monday, February 09, 2009

This seems to capture the tenor of today's postings well.

Hat-tip to Mark Shea for the find.

Not good enough, dear sir.

Dear Mr. Kotler:

You are going to get a lot of hate mail from the breeders for your brave stand, sir, but I'd just like to tell you that I support you 105%. Only one quibble: I don't think you go far enough.

I suggest that a five year moratorium is nowhere near enough. Instead, thoughtful, responsible men like ourselves need to lead the way and have our testicles surgically removed.

Radical? I think not. Given the Mathusian nightmare our world is facing, it is the only responsible choice. Also, the drop in testosterone will do wonders for reducing wars, violence and the prevalence of professional sports.

So, in short, it's time to shell those nuts! Testes for Gaia! Balls for the biosphere!

Nothing else will do! I will schedule my surgery after yours, Mr. Kotler. Together, we can make a difference.

I remain your humble servant,

Dale Price

One generation of imbecile is enough.

[Strong Foul Language Warning, most of which is not mine.]

John Edwards' (remember him? Yeah, it's getting tougher for me, too) former campaign blogger, the incomparable Amanda Marcotte, has propagated another intellectual car wreck attracting gawkers. You may remember Marcotte as the originator of such crippling idiocies as:

Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? [her response to the Duke lacrosse case--whoopsie!];

Of course, if you’re a perverted religious nut, the blood and the pain of 'cherry'-breaking is probably a de riguer part of a woman’s life, both to give the man a cheap thrill of actual blood while enacting the sex-as-violent-possession construction that is part of virginity fetishization and to remind the woman of her religious teaching that womanhood is suffering (see: Genesis);

[I]t appears the wingnut opinion on the proper lifecycle of the womb-body is–one begins as a bright-eyed, innocent virgin, loses your virginity in some weird post-wedding masculinity rite, preferably with maximum blood, fall pregnant immediately, and then die in childbirth so everyone can remember you fondly.

And my personal favorite, ranting against the growing movement to ban contraception:

[Here we'll break to let you push your retinas back into your eyesockets. Done? Good--on to the quote]:

One thing I vow here and now–you motherf*ckers who want to ban birth control will never sleep. I will f*ck without making children day in and out and you will know it and you won’t be able to stop it. Toss and turn, you mean, jealous motherf*ckers. I’m not going to be "punished" with babies. Which makes all your efforts a failure. Some non-procreating women escaped. So give up now. You’ll never catch all of us. Give up now.

[A Message from the Office for National Drug Control Policy: PCP is bad. But it's really, really bad to mix PCP with The Handmaid's Tale. Just don't.]

So, as you see, she's the feminist blogger answer to Andrew Dice Clay, hickory dickory dock.

If I ever find out who asked the question, I'll shoot him dead.

Notice a common thread? Yep--babyphobia. Mandy's pretty adamant the only fleshy thing that's ever coming out of her vagina is the wilting schwantz of her current inadequate boyfriend.


Her latest missive from the world of "The Patriarchs Are Coming After Us With Turkey Basters Full Of Semen!" is further proof, and probably tops the rant in the moron sweepstakes.


The theory that women have a natural urge to have babies is one that’s got a long and ignoble sexist history, [...] None of that is to say that the urge to have children that some (but far from all) women experience isn’t real, and that’s my other giant problem with the ongoing preoccupation with evo psych theories to explain things that are cultural constructs. That something is a cultural construct doesn’t make it less real, it just means that it’s more changeable. This seems like a small distinction, but it’s an important one. I am routinely accused by evo psych fans of denying that men and women are different. I do think there are major culturally constructed differences, and I think most of them exist to demean and oppress women and should be changed in the culture. That’s not to say that they aren’t real, but just that they’re changeable.

As someone else noted, "In her world, a desire for children is a cultural construct, but transexualism and homosexuality are immutable."

No, she's not a top-rank commentator. Basically, she's a wholly derivative and shrill ideologue without a shred of real humor in her. But it's because she's so derivative (not to mention loud) that this latest foray into idiocy is important--she couldn't have dreamed it up on her own, which means there's a geyser of academic decerebration about to erupt under our feet. Coming soon to a Borders and NY Times puff piece near you.

Oh, and really, Ms. Marcotte--we get it--no babies for you! For which we thank the benevolent hand of Providence. Whatever it takes--tied tubes, diaphragms, hysterectomies involving backhoes--whatever. You have our blessing. And society's thanks.

When celebrities talk about politics, just consider it "bonus entertainment."

Woman who gave the world the eternal classic "Half-Breed" says that Republican era "almost killed her."

Really, I've gotten to the point where I find it impossible to not be amused by this sort of thing. They're famous because they are good-looking, have some marketable talent and/or can deliver lines. It doesn't translate well to anything else, apart from television journalism.

They just have to look good, they don't have to be clear.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Forward is turning my comment into a "letter to the Editor."

One of The Forward's editors, Daniel Treiman, contacted me yesterday and asked if it would be all right to turn my comment into a letter--with some minor editing that I would be able to preview and approve.


It's going to be published in the print version of the paper either this week or next.

Ah, publication....

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

John 11:35.

Michael Dubruiel, the husband of Amy Welborn, died suddenly this morning.

There are no words.

I am so, so sorry and rest assured all of you have my prayers.

What am I reading?

Commenter Adam DeVille asked what I'm reading about in things Byzantine.

Every now and then, I do do requests.

Two things Byzantine are at my bedside for the moment. The first is The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos 1143-1180 by British historian Paul Magdalino and the second is Anna Comnena's Alexiad.

I'm about two-thirds of the way through the first work, and I am very, very impressed. Despite the title, it really is an overview of the entire Komnenian Dynasty (1081-1185), with a focus on the last effective Emperor, Manuel I. The Komnenian period represented the last revival of the Empire as an effective political entity. It's not organized as a straight history. Rather, it starts with an historical overview and then goes subject by subject through major themes such as the Imperial family, the Church, literature and so forth. What Magdalino does a very good job of showing what a creative and vibrant period it was, and the effectiveness of Manuel's leadership. Manuel is sometimes blamed as being a flighty spendthrift who went from opportunity to opportunity without a grand plan for preserving the gains of his father and grandfather. Magdalino demonstrates that this is based on an overreliance upon the most popular of the historians of the time, a stern critic of Manuel named Nicholas Choniates (available on Bookfinder for the equivalent of a mortgage payment, if you are interested). Sure, Manuel had his flaws (a near-satyriasis which was quite grim, as Choniates correctly noted). But his leadership decisionmaking was reasoned and thoughtful, though quite unlucky, especially near the end. An essential book if you are interested in the period.

The second is the classic Alexiad, written by Manuel's aunt Anna. The Alexiad is an account of the life and times of Anna's father, the Emperor Alexius I (1081-1118). I've jokingly told my wife that it could be subtitled "My Dad Is Awesome!" given the fulsome praise she rains upon her father. But in this case, it is pretty well deserved and despite Anna's understandable bias, it makes for good history. It could also be subtitled "And My Brother's a Turd."

You see, Anna almost certainly hated Manuel's guts because she hated his father, John II, who had the grotesque character flaw (in her eyes) of being born. Before John's birth, the plan was for Anna to marry Constantine Ducas, the son of a previous feckless Emperor, and to take the throne with him. When John was born, Alexius thought better of it and made his son his heir, dispossessing Anna in the process. Later, Anna was involved in a coup attempt while her father Alexius was on his deathbed, the plan being to supplant her younger brother and to place Anna and her husband Nikephoros Bryennios on the throne.

John learned about it beforehand (almost certainly from the reluctant Bryennios himself) and took the throne before the plotters could act. For a Byzantine Emperor, John II acted with singular mercy, merely confiscating properties and putting some of the plotters under comfortable house arrest (including Anna, but not Nikephoros(!)). House arrest gave Anna plenty of time to write, and thus The Alexiad was born. I'm about a quarter of the way through it, but it is an excellent translation and Anna is a fine, careful historian. I am eagerly awaiting her recounting of the First Crusade through Byzantine eyes. Strongly recommended as both history and a milestone of historical writing.

Oh, and I'm also reading The Sword of the Lady, which is now complete. Book review in September.

Getting Medieval.

Xavier Basora sent me these links, which I happily share for your edification:

De Re Militari, the Medieval Warfare website (with articles galore) and the De Re Militari weblog.

I wonder.

Nobody in the West ever questions the number of people killed in the following:

1. The Armenian Genocide [the Turks dispute the use of the term, which indicates that it was an organized extermination, not the figures];

2. The Ukrainian Terror-Famine;

3. Cambodia;

3. Srebrenica;

4. East Timor; and

5. Rwanda,

to name but five. But when it comes to the Holocaust, well, there the noisy fringe headscratching begins. Six million Jews in less than ten years? Impossible. Followed by an evil beclowning of the self, if not outright descent into delusion, as we saw recently with Msgr. Williamson and Fred Leuchter.

My goodness, how could modern, industrialized Germany with its advanced war machine, top-notch infrastructure and instilled Jew-hating ideology pull off such a thing in ten years? Yes, a puzzler given that Rwandan Hutus killed at least half a million Tutsis in 100 days without any similar groundwork.

Peculiar, that. I can't imagine what could possibly explain the discrepancies in thought.

Byzantine Icon.

For those of you in need of your Eastern Roman fix.

This is the Ustyug Annunciation, a 12th Century Russian icon and one of the few to survive the Mongol catastrophe that descended upon Russia in the 13th Century. It's one of my favorites (I found it in the sadly out-of-print Byzantine Painting: The Last Phase). Be sure to click on the image for detail.

Note the infant Jesus descending into the Virgin's womb, too. The icon itself is a helpful reminder that Byzantium's influence extended far beyond the lands of the Mediterranean.

And it's November.

  I look forward to making some kind of effigy of 2022 and setting it on fire on December 31.  Things have steadified, to coin a term. My so...