Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Un-Feminist Un-Hero

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She is defying the jihadi censors, the misbegotten hate-speech laws and the polite conventions of Western debate that all limit what can be said about the relationship of Islam to modernity. So what’s Feminism’s problem? 

Rich Lowry writes: Ayaan Hirsi Ali should be the perfect feminist hero.

In theory, she fits the role on multiple levels: She’s an escapee from an abusive patriarchy.

[Read the full text here, at the New York Post]

She’s an African immigrant who made her own way in a Western country, the Netherlands. She’s a fierce advocate for women’s rights.

YAAN - FEB28 - Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about her autobiography. tb (Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star via Getty Images) By: Tony Bock Collection: Toronto Star

Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about her autobiography. Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star via Getty Images. 

“Raised a Muslim in Somalia, subjected to genital mutilation and married off to a distant cousin, she is famously a critic of Islam.”

She’s a target for deadly violence by angry men who want to shut her up. She left her religion and became a scourge of its repressive practices.ayaan-hirsi-ali-1

Except for the blemish on her record: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a dissident from the wrong religion.

“Ayaan Hirsi Ali has more confidence in Western civilization and its values than people who have never had to live outside it, or face down the enemies who want to destroy it.”

Raised a Muslim in Somalia, subjected to genital mutilation and married off to a distant cousin, she is famously a critic of Islam.

She has excoriated it at extraordinary risk to her own safety, and makes the case again in her latest book, “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.”

When she collaborated on a film in the Netherlands in 2004 cataloging abuses against Muslim women, her fellow filmmaker Theo van Gogh was assassinated by an Islamist who left a note threatening her pinned to van Gogh’s chest — with a knife.

“In the fashionable neologism designed to be a conversation-stopper, she is “an Islamophobe’.”

But Hirsi Ali wouldn’t be silenced. She is truly a hero of our time. She is defying the jihadi censors, the misbegotten hate-speech laws and the polite conventions of Western debate that all limit what can be said about the relationship of Islam to modernity.

[Order Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” from Amazon.com]

Our society, and especially the left, tends to reflexively celebrate dissenters. But some heretics are more welcome than others. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Reasons Why Democrats Are the Party of Slavery and Victimization

Zo thinks that Democrats are really the party of slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK. Hear why.


To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran

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John R. Bolton writes: For years, experts worried that the Middle East would face an uncontrollable nuclear-arms race if Iran ever acquired weapons capability. Given the region’s political, religious and ethnic conflicts, the logic is straightforward.

“Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident.”

As in other nuclear proliferation cases like India, Pakistan and North Korea, America and the West were guilty of inattention when they should have been vigilant. But failing to act in the past is no excuse for making the same mistakes now. All presidents enter office facing the cumulative effects of their predecessors’ decisions. But each is responsible for what happens on his watch. President Obama’s approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe.

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

“Now the arms race has begun: Neighboring countries are moving forward, driven by fears that Mr. Obama’s diplomacy is fostering a nuclear Iran.”

In theory, comprehensive international sanctions, rigorously enforced and universally adhered to, might have broken the back of Iran’s nuclear program. But the sanctions imposed have not met those criteria. Naturally, Tehran wants to be free of them, but the president’s own director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program. There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking.

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“There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking.”

Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident. Now the arms race has begun: Neighboring countries are moving forward, driven by fears that Mr. Obama’s diplomacy is fostering a nuclear Iran. Saudi Arabia, keystone of the oil-producing monarchies, has long been expected to move first. No way would the Sunni Saudis allow the Shiite Persians to outpace them in the quest for dominance within Islam and Middle Eastern geopolitical hegemony. Read the rest of this entry »


REWIND: Kevin D. Williamson on Harry Reid

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Good piece : In honor of ‘s retirement, ‘s cover piece from June

Via 


Obama’s Iran Policy Is Lost at Sea

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How can the U.S. hope to keep tabs on Tehran’s nuclear program when we can’t even track its oil tankers?

Ms. Rosett is journalist in residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and heads its Investigative Reporting Project.

Claudia Rosettclaudiarosett writes: American negotiators and their cohorts are trying to close a deal that would let Iran keep its nuclear program, subject to intricate conditions of monitoring and enforcement. Yet how is a deal like that supposed to be verified? The Obama administration can’t even keep up with the Iran-linked oil tankers on the U.S. blacklist.

Currently, there are at least 55 of these tankers the Treasury Department says are under U.S. sanctions. These are large ships, major links in the oil chain that sustains the Tehran regime, many of them calling at ports from Turkey to China. They are easier to spot and track than, say, smuggled nuclear parts (which, in a pinch, they could potentially squeeze on board).

“Typical of Iran’s shrouded tanker fleet is the blacklisted ship called the Sinopa, previously named the Superior and before that, the Daisy. Since early 2014, the Sinopa has visited India and China. It has also made multiple trips from Iran to Turkey, via the Suez Canal, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence shipping database, the main source of ship-tracking data for this article.” 

But Iran has engaged for years in what Treasury called “deceptive practices” to dodge sanctions. These include trying to mask the identities, and sometimes the smuggling activities, of its blacklisted ships by renaming them, reflagging them to other countries, veiling their ownership behind front companies, presenting false documents, and engaging in illicit ship-to-ship oil transfers.

“Judging by Treasury’s blacklist, the Sinopa—which Treasury still describes under her previous name of Superior—has done all of this under no identified flag. Why not—what is she hiding? The Treasury refuses to comment on specific cases.”

The result, according to information on Treasury’s publicly available blacklist, is that the U.S. government cannot establish under what flag at least 31 of these tankers are doing business. They can be identified by their unique seven-digit hull numbers, or IMO numbers, issued for the life of each ship. But a ship’s flag also is a vital identifier, one under which it signals its position, carries cargo and presents credentials to visit ports, buy insurance and pay fees. On Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list, which helps ensure global compliance with U.S. sanctions, in the category of “flag” for these 31 tankers Treasury states: “none identified.”

Under terms of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action that frames the Iran nuclear talks, the U.S. does grant temporary waivers for a handful of places to buy Iranian oil in limited quantities: Turkey, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. This means that some activities of these tankers may be legitimate. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Ben Shapiro: Why Jews Vote Leftist?

Ben Shapiro takes a clear-eyed look at why American Jews vote for the anti-Israel Left.


The End of Rational Public Discourse


Periodic Table

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A Reminder from Alan Dershowitz: President is not Commander in Chief of Foreign Policy

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

To be sure, when politicians call our president the ‘Commander-in-Chief,’ they are using that term rhetorically. But it is a dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power

images Alan M. Dershowitz writes: Politicians should stop referring to the President of the United States as “the Commander-in-Chief,” as he is often referred to. Most recently, Hillary Clinton, whom I admire, said the following about Republican senators who wrote an open letter to Iran:

“Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the Commander-in-Chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy.”

But the president is not the Commander-in-Chief for purposes of diplomatic negotiations. This characterization mistakenly implies that President Obama — or any president — is our Commander, and that his decisions should receive special deference. This is a misreading of our constitution, which creates a presidency that is subject to the checks and balances of co-equal branches of the government. The president is only the commander in chief of “the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.” This provision was intended to assure civilian control over the military and to serve as a check on military power.

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“As President, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint Ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress, without Congress changing the law.”

The only people he is empowered to command are soldiers, sailors and members of the militia — not ordinary citizens.

This important limitation on the president’s power is highly relevant to the current debate about Congress having the authority to check the president’s decision to make the deal that is currently being negotiated with Iran. The Constitution is clear about this. The President is not the Commander-in-Chief of our nation’s foreign policy. When he is involved in “high-stakes international diplomacy,” his involvement is not as Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, but rather as negotiator-in-chief, whose negotiations are subject to the checks and balances of the other branches.

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“Our Constitution separates the powers of government — the power to command — into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.”

As President, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint Ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress, without Congress changing the law. Were he the “Commander-in-Chief” of our country — as Putin is of Russia or as Ali Khamenei is of Iran — he could simply command that all of these things be done. But our Constitution separates the powers of government — the power to command — into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.

“The only people he is empowered to command are soldiers, sailors and members of the militia — not ordinary citizens.”

To be sure, when politicians call our president the “Commander-in-Chief,” they are using that term rhetorically. But it is a dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power. Military metaphors are as inappropriate in a democracy as is martial law, which does empower the executive to act as the commander of all people, but only in cases of extreme emergency. Read the rest of this entry »


Want Your City State to Become a Capitalist Success Story? Ban Spitting

Photo dated 19 December 1984 shows senior Chinese

It may be hard to measure just how much Singapore’s famed spitting crackdown helped – but it certainly didn’t hurt.

The governing philosophy of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew contained multitudes: a belief in the enriching power of the free market; a development agenda implemented by a strong central government at the expense of personal freedoms. Alongside these well-known themes, however, there was also this: absolutely never, under any circumstances, would there be public spitting in the Lion City.

“Many of the biggest admirers of Singapore’s rise have since followed in its footsteps and stepped up anti-spitting measures. In 2003, in the wake of the regional SARS outbreak, Hong Kong announced a “no-tolerance” policy, tripling the penalty for spitting to $300.”

In Singapore, anyone caught expectorating can be hit with a hefty fine of up to $1,000 and $5,000 for repeat offenders. That law is part of a raft of legislation that Lee put in place — on gum chewing, bird feeding, and flushing public toilets — that 51z84gsE3EL._SL250_reached deep into citizens’ daily lives and that remain a part of Singapore’s legal code today.

[Order Lee Kuan Yew’s book “From Third World to First: The Singapore Story – 1965-2000” from Amazon.com]

Lee’s strictures on spitting were designed to curb a habit fairly thoroughly ingrained in traditional Chinese culture. Here, for example, Deng Xiaoping meets with Margaret Thatcher with a spittoon in the foreground. The Chinese reformer was a lifelong spitter.

In the West, Singapore’s laws on personal behavior are seen as quirky eccentricities at best (that happen to be great listicle fodder: “If You Think the Soda Ban Is Bad, Check Out all the Things That Are Illegal In Singapore”) and the mark of an invasive nanny state at worst. These laws, however, are rarely considered as a component of Singapore’s much admired economic growth – but maybe they should be.

“The Shenzhen ban comes at a time when the politics of spitting as a dividing line between the ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized’ world have grown increasingly fraught, given the growing clout of mainland China, a country of rampant spitters.”

Spitting has long been against the law in Singapore, a vestige from the days when, as the New York Times put it in 2003, “British colonialists tried in vain to quell what the port’s Chinese immigrants once considered as natural as breathing.” The city-state didn’t begin enforcing laws on the behavior until 1984. But when Singapore did decide to crack down, it meant it: The government fined 128 people for spitting that first year and another 139 in 1985. Read the rest of this entry »


Michael J. Totten: Yemen Falls Apart

Sanaa Yemen Wikimedia Commons_0

Michael J. Tottentotten reports: Suicide-bombers killed at least 137 people and wounded more than 350 in Yemen at two Shia mosques in the capital city of Sanaa on Friday. The very next day, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seized control of the city of al-Houta, and the day after that, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel movement conquered parts of Taiz, the nation’s third-largest city. Rival militias are battling for control of the international airport in the coastal city of Aden, and the US government just announced that American troops are evacuating Al Anad airbase.

ISIS is taking credit for the Sanaa attacks. “Infidel Houthis should know that the soldiers of the Islamic State will not rest,” it said, “until they eradicate them and cut off the arm of the Safavid (Iranian) plan in Yemen.” Al Qaeda has a much larger footprint in Yemen, so the ISIS claim is a little bit dubious, but ISIS is on the rise there and its attitude toward Shia Muslims is more bloodthirsty—more explicitly genocidal as the quote above shows—than Al Qaeda’s.

Regardless of who committed the latest round of atrocities, everything in Yemen is about to become much, much worse. The region-wide storm of sectarian hatred has been gathering strength by the year for more than a decade, and it blew the roof off Yemen earlier this year when the Tower of the Sun Cover for blog-2Houthis, who are Shias, seized control of the capital and sent Sunni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into semi-exile in Aden.

[Order Michael J. Totten‘s book “Tower of the Sun: Stories from the Middle East and North Africa” from Amazon.com] 

The Houthis see their takeover of the city and government institutions as a natural progression of the revolution in 2011 that toppled former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but it isn’t, not really. While they enjoy some backing beyond their Shia support base, the sectarian dimension is inescapable. Shias make up almost half the population, and the Sunni majority is keenly aware that minorities in the Middle East are capable of seizing power and lording it over everyone else—especially if they’re sponsored by a regional mini superpower like Iran. Syria has been ruled by the Iranian-backed Alawite minority for decades, and Saddam Hussein used brute force to bring the Sunni minority to power in Iraq.

Still, the Houthis have virtually no chance of ruling the entire country. Their “territory,” so to speak, is restricted to the northwestern region surrounding the capital. Previous governments had a rough go of it too. South Yemen was a communist state—the so-called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen—until the Soviet Union finally ruptured, and four years after unification with North Yemen, the armed forces of each former half declared war on each other. Read the rest of this entry »


The Orwellian Obama Presidency

ObamaOrwell

Under Mr. Obama, friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory

Bret Stephens writes: The humiliating denouement to America’s involvement in Yemen came over the weekend, when U.S. Special Forces were forced to evacuate a base from which they had operated against the local branch of al Qaeda. This is the same branch that claimed responsibility for the January attack on Charlie Hebdo and has long been considered to pose the most direct threat to Europe and the United States.

So who should Barack Obama be declaring war on in the Middle East other than the state of Israel?

“He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner.”

There is an upside-down quality to this president’s world view. His administration is now on better terms with Iran—whose Houthi proxies, with the slogan “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam,” just deposed Yemen’s legitimate president—than it is with Israel. He claims we are winning the war against Islamic State even as the group continues to extend its reach into Libya, Yemen and Nigeria.

“He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words ‘Islamic’ and ‘terrorism’ must on no account ever be conjoined.” 

[Read the full text here, at the Wall Street Journal]

He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner. He favors the moral legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council to that of the U.S. Congress. He is facilitating Bashar Assad’s war on his own people by targeting ISIS so the Syrian dictator can train his fire on our ostensible allies in the Free Syrian Army.

“The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working.”

He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” must on no account ever be conjoined. The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working.

To adapt George Orwell’s motto for Oceania: Under Mr. Obama, friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory.

The current victim of Mr. Obama’s moral inversions is the recently re-elected Israeli prime minister. Normally a sweeping democratic mandate reflects legitimacy, but not for Mr. Obama. Now we are treated to the astonishing spectacle in which Benjamin Netanyahu has become persona non grata for his comments doubting the current feasibility of a two-state solution. This, while his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas is in the 11th year of his four-year term, without a murmur of protest from the White House. Read the rest of this entry »


Charles C. W. Cooke’s Apollo 11 Lunchbox

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Read the Charles C. W. Cooke profile here, at NYTimes.com


[VIDEO] The Conservatarian Manifesto: Should Libertarians and Conservatives Unite?

“I think the ‘conservatarian’ term is not a linguistic trick, it is a substantive attempt to describe a certain coterie on the right,” explains Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for National Review and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future. “These are the people who say when they are around libertarians they feel conservative, and when they are around conservatarianconservatives they feel libertarian…(read more)

[Check out Charles C. W. Cooke‘s new book: “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Futureat Amazon.com]

Reason TV‘s Nick Gillespie sat down with Cooke to discuss his book…(read more)

Reason.com


CATO Institute: New Research on The Minimum Wage and the Great Recession

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During the last part of the previous decade, the average effective minimum wage rose by nearly 30 percent across the United States.

New research from Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither analyzes the effects on the employment and income trajectories of low-skilled workers during the Great Recession and subsequent recovery. The authors estimate that the minimum wage increases reduced the employment-to-population ratio of working age adults by 0.7 percentage points, accounting for 14 percent of the total decline. Low-skilled workers in particular were hurt by minimum wage policies, despite being the purported beneficiaries.

Read more….


Islam: 5 Areas that Require Amendment

Ali

Here are the five areas that require amendment

1. Muhammad’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Quran.
Muhammad should not be seen as infallible, let alone as a source of divine writ. He should be seen as a historical figure who united the Arab tribes in a premodern context that cannot be replicated in the 21st century. And although Islam maintains that the Quran is the literal word of Allah, it is, in historical reality, a book that was shaped by human hands. Large parts of the Quran simply reflect the tribal values of the 7th-century Arabian context from which it emerged. The Quran’s eternal spiritual values must be separated from the cultural accidents of the place and time of its birth.

2. The supremacy of life after death.
The appeal of martyrdom will fade only when Muslims assign a greater value to the rewards of this life than to those promised in the hereafter.

3. Shariah, the vast body of religious legislation.
Muslims should learn to put the dynamic, evolving laws made by human beings above those aspects of Shariah that are violent, intolerant or anachronistic.

4. The right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.
There is no room in the modern world for religious police, vigilantes and politically empowered clerics.

5. The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.
Islam must become a true religion of peace, which means rejecting the imposition of religion by the sword.

I know that this argument will make many Muslims uncomfortable. Some are bound to be offended by my proposed amendments. Others will contend that I am not qualified to discuss these complex issues of theology and law. I am also afraid—genuinely afraid—that it will make a few Muslims even more eager to silence me….(read more)

From Why Islam Needs a Reformation by Ayaan Hirsi Ali


Why Islam Needs a Reformation

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To defeat the extremists for good, Muslims must reject those aspects of their tradition that prompt some believers to resort to oppression and holy war

Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes: “Islam’s borders are bloody,” wrote the late political scientist Samuel Huntington in 1996, “and so are its innards.” Nearly 20 years later, Huntington looks more right than ever before. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, at least Hirsi-Ali-Book70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims. In 2013, there were nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks world-wide.

[Order Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” from Amazon.com]

The lion’s share were in Muslim-majority countries, and many of the others were carried out by Muslims. By far the most numerous victims of Muslim violence—including executions and lynchings not captured in these statistics—are Muslims themselves.

“Let me make two things clear. I do not seek to inspire another war on terror or extremism—violence in the name of Islam cannot be ended by military means alone. Nor am I any sort of ‘Islamophobe.’ At various times, I myself have been all three kinds of Muslim: a fundamentalist, a cocooned believer and a dissident. My journey has gone from Mecca to Medina to Manhattan.”

Not all of this violence is explicitly motivated by religion, but a great deal of it is. I believe that it is foolish to insist, as Western leaders habitually do, that the violent acts committed in the name of Islam can somehow be divorced from the religion itself. For more than a decade, my ayaan-hirsi-ali-1message has been simple: Islam is not a religion of peace.

“For me, there seemed no way to reconcile my faith with the freedoms I came to the West to embrace. I left the faith, despite the threat of the death penalty prescribed by Shariah for apostates. Future generations of Muslims deserve better, safer options. Muslims should be able to welcome modernity, not be forced to wall themselves off, or live in a state of cognitive dissonance, or lash out in violent rejection.”

When I assert this, I do not mean that Islamic belief makes all Muslims violent. This is manifestly not the case: There are many millions of peaceful Muslims in the world. What I do say is that the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam. Moreover, this theologically sanctioned violence is there to be activated by any number of offenses, including but not limited to apostasy, adultery, blasphemy and even something as vague as threats to family honor or to the honor of Islam itself.

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Islamic State militants marching through Raqqa, Syria, a stronghold of the Sunni extremist group, in an undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014. Photo: Associated Press

It is not just al Qaeda and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic faith and practice. It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet or Islam is labeled as blasphemy and punishable by death. It is Saudi Arabia, where churches and synagogues are outlawed and ali-tallwhere beheadings are a legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their “crime.”

“But it is not only Muslims who would benefit from a reformation of Islam. We in the West have an enormous stake in how the struggle over Islam plays out.”

As I see it, the fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts.

[Read the full text of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s essay here, at Wall Street Journal]

It simply will not do for Muslims to claim that their religion has been “hijacked” by extremists. The killers of Islamic State and Nigeria’s Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct.

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Muslim children carry torches during a parade before Eid al-Fitr, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, on July 27, 2014, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.Photo: Getty Images

Instead of letting Islam off the hook with bland clichés about the religion of peace, we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic thought and practice. We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts.

As it turns out, the West has some experience with this sort of reformist project. Read the rest of this entry »


Jon Gabriel: ‘I suppose I could categorize my friends by ethnicity, but the thought makes my skin crawl. They’re friends, not racial statistics’

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The Broader Problem with Starbucks’ Racialism

 writes: In an effort to solve America’s race issues once and for all, Starbucks is offering a discussion guide named “Your Race Relations Reality Check.” The document is featured to the right. This is not a Photoshop. This is real. One of the biggest companies on Earth thought this was A Good Idea.

“I’ve grown accustomed to the hand-wringing of rich white liberals, the smug preachiness of corporations, and the intrusion of politics into everyday life. But this ‘Reality Check’ revealed something deeper.”

Starbucks asks how many of your friends are of a different race and how that compares to your parents’ and kids’ racial quotas. They want to know the racial makeup of your neighborhood, workplace and Facebook stream. Have race-relations-reality-check-SByou let people of other races into your home? Have you entered theirs? And why didn’t you keep up with that childhood friend of a different race?

“I can’t even answer the Starbucks questionnaire. I have no idea the races of my parents’ or kids’ friends and even if I did, why would it matter? I suppose I could categorize my friends by ethnicity, but the thought makes my skin crawl. They’re friends, not racial statistics.”

For the past few days, I’ve tried to identify what most bugs me about this Starbucks stunt. I’ve grown accustomed to the hand-wringing of rich white liberals, the smug preachiness of corporations, and the intrusion of politics into everyday life. But this “Reality Check” revealed something deeper.

[Read the full text here, at Ricochet]

Let me veer onto a tangent; I’ll get back to the point in a minute. Starting with my first job out of college, I’ve had to mingle at trade shows, launch parties and corporate events where I was ordered to chat up complete strangers. I’m an introvert, so this was almost a fate worse than death. I’m some punk kid and they’re middle-aged bankers and software developers — what on earth am I supposed to talk about?

“This reveals one of my fundamental issues with the progressive mindset: they are obsessed with dividing Americans into discrete, controllable categories.”

So I came up with a conversation hack to sidestep my inner wallflower. I needed them to tell me something — anything — we might have in common. It would go like this:

“Where is your office located?”

“Nebraska.”

“So, what’s going on with those Huskers? Could be an interesting year…”

Then I’d shut up and nod for 10 minutes.

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In that first job, most of the guests were male and often from rural areas, so I would just mention the name of the nearest college and let them educate me on the sports there. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REASON: Nick Gillespie & Todd Krainin’s Epic Interview with Camille Paglia

Everything’s Awesome and Camille Paglia is Unhappy!

editor-commen-deskI nearly bypassed this interview, having enjoyed Paglia’s memorable social and cultural critiques over the last 15 years or so, I expected it to be good, but easy to put off for later viewing. Boy was I wrong. A potent, and revealing conversation. Free Range Big Thinkers like Paglia, in culture paglia-faceand media — especially ones who identify as Democrats but talk like libertarians — are few and far between. It makes the rare good ones even more valuable. We’ve not seen Camille’s familiar Madonna-loving, pop-culture-riddled smart commentary as much as we did in the 1990s, at the now-diminished pioneering Salon magazine, where she was a regular. Fast-forward to 2015: Paglia represents a senior figure, as a public intellectual. A long way from those early days at Yale in the 1960s. She’s older, crankier, controversial, and impossible to categorize, but that’s how we like it.

I’d seen other references and links to this new Paglia interview, but it was the Twitter feed of noted media critic Mollie Z. Hemingway than finally got my attention. Yesterday, she’d collected a string of individual excerpts (well chosen clips, too, a few samples below) Thanks to MZH, otherwise I might have missed this. Included here is the hour-long video, and just a fraction of the transcript. If you don’t see anything else this weekend — or this year — don’t miss this. Brilliant work by REASON‘s  & . Go get the whole transcript. And tune into Mollie Z. Hemingway’s articles here, and tweets here.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: This is a rush transcript. Check against video for accuracy.

reason: Let’s talk about the state of contemporary feminism. You have been in a public life or in an intellectual life since the late 1960s, a proud feminist, often reviled by other feminists. Gloria Steinem most famously said you were an anti-feminist and that when you denied that, she said that would be like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic. You’re mixing it up. What is going on with the state of “professional feminism” in this country. It seems if you look at from, say, the early ’70s, things have gotten better for women. Men are less uptight about gender roles. Women are more in the workforce, they get paid equally, sexual assaults and sexual violence are down. In so many ways, things are going pagliabetter than ever, and yet from sites like Jezebel or Feministing, all you hear is that things have never been worse.

[Check out the books and essays of Camille Paglia at Amazon.com]

Paglia: Feminism has gone through many phases. Obviously the woman’s suffrage movement of the 19th century fizzled after women gained the right to vote through the Constitutional amendment in 1920. Then the movement revived in the late 1960s through Betty Freidan co-founding NOW in 1967. Now, I preceded all that. I’m on record with a letter in Newsweek, I was in high school in 1963, where I called for equal rights for American women and so on. I began thinking about gender, researching it, I loved the generation of Amelia Earhart and all those emancipated women of the ’20s and ’30s, and because I had started my process of thought about gender so much earlier, I was out of sync with the women’s movement when it suddenly burst forth.

[Read the full text here, at REASON]

reason: It became a huge kind of cultural moment in the late 60s—it had been percolating before…

Paglia: It was literally nothing. There was no political activism of any kind from women getting the right to vote in 1920… when Simone de Beauvoir wrote her great magnum opus, The Second Sex, published in the early 1950s, she was thought to be hopelessly retrograde. Nobody could possibly be interested again in gender issues.

reason: You were living in upstate New York. Did you already know what your sexuality was? What was it like to be a woman, a lesbian, in 1963?

Paglia: Well, the 1950s were a highly conformist period. Gender had repolarized after really great gains it seems to me in the ’20s and ’30s, and one must be more sympathetic to the situation of my parents’ generation. They had known nothing but depression and war throughout their entire lives. My father was a paratrooper, when he got out of the army, everyone married, and I’m the baby boom. They wanted normality. They just wanted to live like real people, man and wife in a home. I found the 1950s utterly suffocating. I was a gender nonconforming entity, and I was signaling my rebellion by these transgender Halloween costumes that were absolutely Neil Daviesunheard of. I was five, six, seven, eight years old. My parents allowed me to do it because I was so intent on it.

reason: What were you dressing up as?

Paglia: A Roman solider, the matador from Carmen. My best was Napoleon. I was Hamlet from the Classics Comics book. Absolutely no one was doing stuff like this, and I’m happy that this talk about medical sex changes was not in the air, because I would have become obsessed with that and assumed that that was my entire identity and problem, so this is why I’m very concerned about the rush to surgical interventions today. At any rate, I was attracted to men—I dated men—but I just fell in love with women and always have. Yes, there’s absolutely no doubt. I was on the forefront of gay identification. When I arrived at graduate school at Yale 1968-1972, I was the only openly gay person, and I didn’t even have a sex life. To me, it was a badge of militance. And I was the only person doing a dissertation on a sexual topic. It’s hard to believe this now.

[Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson]

reason: What was the topic?

Paglia: Sexual Personae, which was the book finally published in 1990 after being rejected by seven publishers and five agents, and that was unheard of again. I’m delighted I had the sponsorship of Harold Bloom that pushed the topic through the English department, I think possibly that they allowed me to do such a thing on sex was actually kind of amazing.

My clashes with other feminists began immediately. Read the rest of this entry »


Bibi Prevails: President Obama Loses His Bid to Defeat a U.S. Ally

Netanyahu-victory-WSJ

It isn’t Mr. Obama’s habit to admit error, or to be gracious to his opponents, but it would serve the interests of both nations if he were.

The Israeli election that looked like a cliffhanger when the polls closed on Tuesday had turned into a decisive victory for Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party by Wednesday morning. With at least 29 seats in the parliament compared to 24 for the main center-left party, Israel’s Prime Minister should be able to put together a ruling coalition of center-right parties that is more manageable than his last majority.

“President Obama might also reflect on his own contribution to Mr. Netanyahu’s victory. Israelis surrounded by hostile nations sworn to their destruction are most likely to take risks for peace when they feel secure in America’s support.”

The victory is a remarkable personal triumph for Mr. Netanyahu, who is now Israel’s second longest-serving Prime Minister after David Ben-Gurion. He gambled that he could assemble a more stable center-right coalition, as well as by giving a high-stakes speech to the U.S. Congress on Iran two weeks before the election, and in the final days stressing above all the security themes that must be Israel’s abiding concern.

“While the results may dismay Mr. Netanyahu’s detractors abroad, especially in the White House, they surely reflect Israel’s security consensus.”

Mr. Netanyahu and Likud were trailing in the polls in the final week as the opposition stressed the rising cost of food and housing and an economy that had slowed to about 3% growth from near 6% in 2010. But in the closing days Mr. Netanyahu played up that foreigners (read: President Obama) wanted him defeated, and he rejected statehood for Palestinians, reversing a position he had taken in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Dr. K: It’s Clear that Obama Loathes Netanyahu More than Any Other World Leader

From The Corner

“This was an election between Bibi and Obama — that was on the ballot. He did everything he could to unseat him, but he failed.”

President Obama’s approach to Iran and the Middle East was firmly rejected in Israel’s election on Tuesday, in which prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu won reelection, said Charles Krauthammer.

“This was an election between Bibi and Obama — that was on the ballot,” he said on Wednesday’s Special Report. “He did everything he could to unseat him, but he failed.”

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Krauthammer criticized “the pettiness and the petulance” from the Obama administration regarding Netanyahu’s victory, which included a backhanded congratulatory statement and a delayed phone call from secretary of state John Kerry rather than President Obama.

“It’s clear that Obama loathes Netanyahu more than any other world leader, meaning more than the ayatollah in Iran or Putin in Russia.”

“I think the reaction of the administration is now reaching levels where it’s become unseemingly,” he said….(read more)

National Review


Richard A. Epstein: Race Baiting and Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder To Resign

The DOJ was determined to make a big deal out of the various misdeeds of the Department. In so doing, it set back race relations in the United States by sending out the unmistakable message that while the DOJ could not get Wilson, it could surely get the city for which he had worked.

Richard A. Epstein writes: The most recent news from Ferguson concerns what Eric Holder has rightly called the “ambush shooting” of two police officers outside the city’s police department. This incident occurred in the wake of two detailed reports released by the Department of Justice. The first report deals in depth with the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The report recommended that the case against him be closed. The second DOJ report contained a scathing indictment of the sad state of affairs within the entire criminal justice system of Ferguson. The combined effect of these two reports is likely to make matters worse in Ferguson by combining the back-handed exoneration of Darren Wilson with the unstinting condemnation of the City of Ferguson.

“The two DOJ reports do not cohere. The first shows that Wilson’s use of force against Michael Brown was fully justified. The second uses that incident to launch a scathing attack against Ferguson, leading to the resignation of its key officials for conduct that looks on balance to be no better or worse than that in other cities around the country.”

Let’s start with the DOJ report that exonerated Wilson. The federal prosecutors ran an exhaustive review of all the physical, forensic, and testimonial evidence in the case. It is necessary to state its final conclusion in full: “Darren Wilson’s actions do not constitute prosecutable violations under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, 18 U.S.C. § 242, which prohibits uses of deadly force that are ‘objectively unreasonable,’ as defined by the United States Supreme Court. The evidence, when viewed as a whole, does not support the conclusion that Wilson’s uses of deadly force were “objectively unreasonable” under the Supreme Court’s definition. Accordingly, under the governing federal law and relevant standards set forth in the USAM [United States Attorneys’ Manual], it is not appropriate to present this matter to a federal grand jury for indictment, and it should therefore be closed without prosecution.”

“The serious consequence of the second high-profile report is to keep alive the image that racial injustice is alive and well in the United States. What the report fails to understand is that it is as dangerous to exaggerate the risk of racial injustice as it is to ignore it.”

The legal conclusion is surely correct, but the tone of the report’s findings are slanted against Wilson. It is not just the case that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution. It is that, beyond a reasonable doubt, the evidence supports that Wilson’s conduct was fully justified. During the initial encounter, Brown had tried to wrest Wilson’s gun from him by reaching into Wilson’s Chevy Tahoe SUV.

“What the DOJ now has to do is to acknowledge that the killing of Michael Brown was a justifiable homicide. It must abandon its contrived legalisms and defend Wilson, by condemning unequivocally the entire misguided campaign against him, which resulted in threats against his life and forced his resignation from the police force. Eric Holder owes Wilson an apology for the unnecessary anguish that Wilson has suffered.”

Wilson’s story was corroborated, to quote the report, “by bruising on Wilson’s jaw and scratches on his neck, the presence of Brown’s DNA on Wilson’s collar, shirt, and pants, and Wilson’s DNA on Brown’s palm.” Later on, the evidence also showed that Brown was running toward Wilson at the time Wilson fired the fatal shots, not knowing whether Brown was armed or not. The incident was far clearer than the oft-ticklish situations in which the courts have to decide whether a police officer used excessive force against a person who was resisting arrest, as with the controversial grand jury decision not to indict any police officer for the killing of Eric Garner. Read the rest of this entry »


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