Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Heading For the Dark Ages

Andrew Sullivan espies the "Christianist" barbarians at the gates and ominously offers this letter from Samuel Alito to James Dobson as proof of their nefarious perfidy. If, after all, Supreme Court justices are expressing gratitude to supporters for their prayers during a difficult time in their lives can theocracy be far behind?

Dear Dr. Dobson:

This is just a short note to express my heartfelt thanks to you and the entire staff of Focus on the Family for your help and support during the past few challenging months. I would also greatly appreciate it if you would convey my appreciation to the good people from all parts of the country who wrote to tell me that they were praying for me and for my family during this period.

As I said when I spoke at my formal investiture at the White House last week, the prayers of so many people from around the country were a palpable and powerful force. As long as I serve on the Supreme Court I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me.

I hope that we'll have the opportunity to meet personally at some point in the future.In the meantime my entire family and I hope that you and the Focus on the Family staff know how we appreciate all that you have done.

Sincerely yours,

Samuel Alito

And you thought Islamism was an imminent threat. Wait until those reactionary "Christianists" succeed in blocking progressive reforms in our marriage laws and begin rolling back a mother's right to kill her unborn baby. We're headed for the Dark Ages for sure.

Anti-Totalitarian Manifesto

Agora and a number of other blogs are reporting on a manifesto signed by twelve prominent intellectuals, several of them Muslims or former Muslims, which takes a courageous stand against the "new totalitarianism." The manifesto apparently originated in France, of all places, and has run in the Dutch paper Jyllands-Posten which originally published the infamous cartoons:

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.

We reject "cultural relativism," which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.

We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

12 signatures

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Chahla Chafiq, Caroline Fourest, Bernard-Henri L�vy, Irshad Manji, Mehdi Mozaffari, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasreen, Salman Rushdie, Antoine Sfeir, Philippe Val, Ibn Warraq

Agora has brief bios of each of the signers. We anticipate violent, hate-filled protests around the world instigated by Muslims offended to the point of outrage that the signers of this manifesto would imply that Muslims are violent haters.

Telling Friend From Foe

You, like us, may have been wondering how in the world Muslims tell each other apart when they go on their frequent killing sprees. How, for example, does a Sunni distinguish a hated Shia from other Sunnis? Do people often get killed as a result of mistaken identity? Does it matter to the killers who they kill or are they content just to have shot somebody or blown people up?

Anyway, Daniel Engber has an enlightening column at Slate which helps answer the first of these questions. It turns out that a lot of it is in the name.

What Are the Arguments?

There's been lots of excitement in the media over the controversy surrounding the sale of control of our ports to the United Arab Emirates. Quite frankly we don't know whether this is a good idea or a bad one but we do know that not many arguments that have been raised against it make very much sense. People are all aflutter because the ports will be run by Arabs, but Saudi Arabia has been quietly administering nine of our ports without complaint from Chuck Schumer and other political opportunists in the Democratic party.

There is also much ululation about the fact that two of the 9/11 terrorists were from the U.A.E., but why does that mean we shouldn't allow the U.A.E. to do business with the U.S.? Timothy McVeigh was from New York state. Should New York be regarded as a threat to our national well-being? Okay, perhaps that's a bad question, but the point is that it's silly to condemn the country of origin of a terrorist. Jose Padilla is an American, after all. What should we conclude from that?

Our primary anxiety about the deal is that the Bush administration seems curiously, indeed recklessly, insoucient about protecting our borders, and the ports imbroglio just seems to be another example of their disregard for who controls access to our interior. That concern aside, however, we just don't see much in the way of argument being offered by the opponents to the deal. In fact, it seems like the Democrats just see it as an opportunity to grab some desperately needed national security cred from the president. The sudden concern for keeping all Arabs at arm's length is a bit laughable coming from the people who wax indignant over ethnic profiling at airports and the president's NSA eavesdropping program on al-Qaeda phone calls.