Sunday, November 14, 2004

Ramadi On Deck

Looks like Ramadi is the next snake pit on the military's list.

By the way, what does 1200 terrorist corpses rotting in the streets of Fallujah do to al Zarqawi's recruiting efforts? Hard to imagine that there'd be too many guys eager to wind up like those fellows.

Which leads us to a theological question. What sorts of strains does the debacle in Fallujah place on available resources in Paradise? It can't be easy for Allah's quartermaster general to produce 72 virgins with which to reward each of those "martyrs", can it?

Campus Anti-Intellectualism

Joanne Jacobs cites a piece from the Chronicles of Higher Education by Max Bauerlein on the paucity of intellectual discourse among some faculty on American university campuses. The article confirms the widely held suspicion that many university professors aren't really interested in either thinking or truth but simply in promoting their prejudices. Jacobs writes:

Groupthink in college faculties is anti-intellectual, writes Max Bauerlein, an Emory English professor, in Chronicle of Higher Education. Politics is embedded in some disciplines.

"Schools of education, for instance, take constructivist theories of learning as definitive, excluding realists (in matters of knowledge) on principle, while the quasi-Marxist outlook of cultural studies rules out those who espouse capitalism. If you disapprove of affirmative action, forget pursuing a degree in African-American studies. If you think that the nuclear family proves the best unit of social well-being, stay away from women's studies."

Many academics don't read conservative texts or talk to conservative thinkers, writes Bauerlein. They think the conservative intelligentsia is represented by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, "not von Hayek, Russell Kirk, Leo Strauss, Thomas Sowell, Robert Nozick, or Gertrude Himmelfarb."

"The ordinary evolution of opinion -- expounding your beliefs in conversation, testing them in debate, reading books that confirm or refute them -- is lacking, and what should remain arguable settles into surety."

Liberal professors assume all thinking people agree with them. Those who disagree must be stupid; their ideas aren't worthy of consideration. Academics don't realize they've lost "all sense of the range of legitimate opinion," Bauerlein writes.

"The problem is that the simple trappings of deliberation make academics think that they've reached an opinion through reasoned debate -- instead of, in part, through an irrational social dynamic. The opinion takes on the status of a norm. Extreme views appear to be logical extensions of principles that everyone more or less shares, and extremists gain a larger influence than their numbers merit. If participants left the enclave, their beliefs would moderate, and they would be more open to the beliefs of others."

"...Panels on issues like Iraq, racism, imperialism, and terrorism that stack the dais provide lots of passion, but little excitement. Syllabi that include the same roster of voices make learning ever more desultory. Add a few rightists, and the debate picks up. Perhaps that is the most persuasive internal case for infusing conservatism into academic discourse and activities. Without genuine dissent in the classroom and the committee room, academic life is simply boring."

Bauerlein doesn't want affirmative action for conservatives on campus, Jacobs tells us. His goal is to prod professors to think about the ways they exclude and ignore dissenting opinions.

Excluding and ignoring dissenting opinions is a symptom of intellectual insecurity. It's the preferred tactic of those who realize, if only subliminally, that their ideas simply can't withstand the challenge of open debate. Leftist ideas can only survive on campus if they are insulated from scrutiny and immunized from criticism. Many of our universitites have long ago ceased to be part of the marketplace of ideas. Today they are ideological monocultures, heavily laced with a wide variety of politically correct herbicides employed to kill off any unapproved idea which might otherwise take root in this intellectually sterile soil.

Cheat Seekers

Laer at Cheat Seeking Missiles (Great Name!) has two posts that we recommend to our readers. The first is a tally of approximately 130 instances of attempts by the MSM to skew voter perception of the candidates in the recent election in Senator Kerry's favor. This list should serve as a valuable reference for anyone who writes about media bias for years to come. It's also a damning indictment of the sheer dishonesty that reigns in the organs of the Left in this country. Honesty, as we recall, is one of those values that Bush supporters were looking for in a presidential candidate. No surprise that those who find an emphasis on values in the electorate alarming would hold integrity in such low esteem.

The second is an account coming out of San Francisco State University:

College Republicans at the San Francisco State University were the target of a racist, threatening attack by PLO and al Qaeda sympathizers who want the victorious national political party kicked off the campus, according to California College Republicans.

Despite a physical assault against one GOP student, and death threats, rape threats and even terrorism threats -- one Arab student yelled, "The only way we can defeat you is to kill as many as possible! I'd rather die a suicide bomber's death than to call myself an American!" -- SFSU President Robert Corrigan refused to take any action against the perpetrators, the General Union of Palestinian Students. Nor was the Palestinian group told not interfere with the ability of the College Republicans to exercise their rights of free speech. In fact, during the earlier attack on Monday, the police asked the College Republicans if they would leave rather than arresting their attackers.

Even during the Vietnam war, the GOP was not the target of Leftist violence. The reaction of the Left to the proper functioning of the democratic process is getting more and more troubling. The reaction shows that their hatred goes far beyond President Bush, and is an attack on more than half of the American voting public.

We'd like to add that attacks like this are abetted by pusillanimous university administrators whose failure to act decisively against the thugs only insures that there will be more thuggery. If conservative white students had said anything like what the Arab student is reported to have said they would've been thrown out of school before they had finished the sentence. Unfortunately, the list of courageous university administrators is as short as the list of instances of MSM bias is long.

Foreknowledge and Free-Will

The philosophically and theologically minded might wish to visit Evangelical Outpost where Joe Carter presents William Lane Craig's attempt to reconcile God's foreknowledge with man's free will.

Craig's argument is clever, but a little convoluted. Perhaps there's an easier way to think of the problem.

In a post titled God and Time last July Viewpoint suggested that the problem Craig is addressing arises because we tend to think of God as inhabiting the same time that we inhabit. God, however, is transcendent. He exists outside of the space-time world that He created. Thus everything that happens in our time - our past, present, and future -reside continually in God's present.

We might think of it this way: God is like a vast sphere or ball, and time is a thin line segment drawn in ink across the surface. Every part moment in time, like every point on the line, is in contact with God simultaneously. God is continually conscious of every moment in our time. He stands in the same relation to our past and our future as he does to our present.

It follows that God knows the choices we made yesterday. Yet we don't have to think that because he knows what choices we made yesterday that He therefore caused those choices. Nothing about God's present knowledge forces us to conclude that our past choices were determined by Him any more than our knowledge of past events somehow caused those events. Knowledge after an event doesn't cause or determine the event.

Prior knowledge of future events is different, though. If we knew, genuinely knew, that a particular event would occur tomorrow, then we might be tempted to think that tomorrow's event is inevitable, that it must occur. This, however, is because we are embedded in time. God is not. Our future is in His present just as our past is. His knowledge of the future is similar to his knowledge of the past, and, if the two really are like mirror images of each other, His knowledge of an event or of a choice we will make tomorrow does not cause us to make that choice.

His foreknowledge would be no more determinative than His post-knowledge. Indeed, it would be more correct to say that just as our free choices yesterday caused God to have the knowledge He has about those choices today, so, too, our choices tomorrow cause the knowledge He has about those choices today. Our choices determine His knowledge. His knowledge doesn't determine our choices. Thus God can have foreknowledge of our future and humans nevertheless remain free to create it.