Thursday, June 2, 2005

Beslan Terror Trial

The only surviving terrorist who participated in the Beslan massacre was put on trial yesterday and pleaded not guilty. Unfortunately for him there are witnesses. Pictures and details can be found here.

Amnesty's Buffoonery

Amnesty International, which distinguished itself last week with singularly ridiculous allegations against the United States and a positively moronic suggestion that other countries arrest president Bush and his top officials, describes itself as nonpartisan. The following information is taken from an article in the Washington Times:

Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary-general, compared the U.S. detention center at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 500 suspected al Qaeda and Taliban members are held, to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's "gulag" prison system.

Ms Khan has evidently never read Solzhenitsyn's One day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch nor his monumental Gulag Archipeligo. If she had she would have been far more reluctant to make such a completely asinine comparison of the conditions which existed in the Gulag to those which prevail in the relative country club that is Guantanamo.

At the same time, William F. Schulz, Amnesty's executive director, issued a statement calling Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top administration officials "architects of torture." Mr. Schulz suggested that other countries could file war-crime charges against the top officials and arrest them.

It now transpires that the top leadership of Amnesty International USA contributed the maximum $2,000 to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. Federal Election Commission records show that Mr. Schulz contributed $2,000 to Mr. Kerry's campaign last year. He also has contributed $1,000 to the 2006 campaign of Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Moreover, Joe W. "Chip" Pitts III, board chairman of Amnesty International USA, gave the maximum $2,000 allowed by federal law to John Kerry for President. Mr. Pitts is a lawyer and entrepreneur who advises the American Civil Liberties Union.

Amnesty International's Web site states it is "independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion. It does not support or oppose any government."

Indeed. It only opposes the officials of those governments which have freed more people from tyranny in the last five years than have ever been freed by any nation in the entire history of the world.

Perhaps Amnesty should add to its governing principles not only freeing people from the oppression of political tyrants but also freeing the rest of us from the insufferable oppression of it's own buffoonery.

A Jewish Anti- Christian Defamation League

Christianity Today has an interview with Don Feder who is president of an organization of Jews formed last month which is committed to defending Evangelical Christianity from it's cultural despisers. This is an historically unprecedented undertaking on the part of religious Jews, and their aims and rationale for it are encouraging. At one point in the interview Feder says this:

Christians by and large aren't being attacked because Catholics believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation or because some evangelicals believe in the Rapture. They're not being attacked on theological grounds. They're being attacked on moral grounds. They're being attacked because they object to same-sex marriage; they object to abortion on demand; they support public displays of the Ten Commandments; they support voluntary school prayer or a moment of silent meditation at the beginning of the school day; because they want judges to interpret the Constitution rather than using the Constitution to legislate from the bench; because they object to, you might even say they were outraged by, what happened to Terri Schiavo. Christians are the last remaining obstacle to the triumph of secular humanist values. And that's why we say that if Christians fail, America will fail.

There's much in this piece that we found fascinating, especially Feder's response to questions about why he and others started the organization as well as his thoughts on Christian proselytism of Jews. Give it a look.

Moral Retards

He writes about the "logical impossibility" of "religion without fanaticism." In his essay, Religion & Morality: A Contradiction Explained, he opines that "humanity would be better off without religion," which he characterizes as "social poison," because believers are "susceptible to extreme forms of hatred and violence." He also calls religious believers "moral retards" and says they are "incapable of moral action."

He writes: "American Christians like to think that religious violence is a problem only for other faiths. In the heart of every Christian, though, is a tiny voice preaching self-righteousness, paranoia and hatred. Christians claim that theirs is a faith based on love, but they'll just as soon kill you. For your own good, of course." He then belittles religious believers "whose devotion is moderate," saying they "are only cowardly fanatics," not brave enough to "foment their own kind of holy war."

Who is he? His name is Timothy Shortell and he's just been named to chair the Sociology Department at CUNY's Brooklyn College. There's much more about Shortell and his radical Left politics here.

His claim that religious believers are incapable of moral action is a statement that only someone totally oblivious to cultural and social history could make. It is also philosophically inane. It is, after all, only religious believers who can even speak in moral categories. For the atheist there can be no morality. Shortell refers to himself as an "ubermensch", Nietzsche's term for the man who is beyond good and evil. Having adopted a Nietzschean attitude toward morality, it is disingenuous, if not fatuous, of him to pretend that he's morally superior to Christians or to pass moral judgment upon anyone. If, as we've argued many times, there is no God then there is no morality. There are just things that people do, some of which are preferred by some people over others.

If "moral retards" there be, among them are those who assert that one can have Christian moral principles without the Christian God.