Thursday, May 18, 2006

PushMe-PullYou in the Senate

The Senate comes across in this news item like the PushMe-PullYou in the old Dr. Doolittle movie. The PushMe-PullYou was a horse-like animal whose rear half was just like its front half. Thus, if both halves were trying to move forward at the same time they cancelled each other out:

The Senate agreed to give millions of illegal immigrants a shot at U.S. citizenship and backed construction of 370 miles of triple-layered fencing along the Mexican border Wednesday, but prospects for legislation clearing Congress were clouded by a withering attack against President Bush by a prominent House Republican.

The vote to build what supporters called a "real fence" _ as distinct from the virtual fence already incorporated in the legislation _ was 83-16. The fence would be built in areas "most often used by smugglers and illegal aliens," as determined by federal officials. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., estimated the cost at roughly $3.2 million per mile, more than $900 million for 300 miles.

The provision includes a call for construction of 500 miles of vehicle barriers, adding to a system currently in place. It marked the first significant victory for conservatives eager to leave their stamp on a measure that looks increasingly like it is headed toward Senate passage.

Construction would send "a signal that open-border days are over. ... Good fences make good neighbors, fences don't make bad neighbors," Sessions said. He said border areas where barriers are in place have experienced economic improvement and reduced crime.

The House legislation...would make all illegal aliens subject to prosecution as felons and [it] calls for construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border - more than twice as long as the barrier the Senate backed during the day.

Like the PushMe-PullYou the Senate is moving in the right direction, though not far enough, by approving some 370 miles of fence. But they're moving in the wrong direction by putting illegal immigrants on a track toward citizenship. This is a slap at all who have gone through the process of becoming citizens the right way.

The House has a better fence proposal but, though we are not unsympathetic with the reasoning behind it, it's probably not practical to insist upon prosecuting and deporting all illegals. In our view, current illegals should be neither sought out for prosecution nor granted citizenship. Legal sanctions should instead be directed at the employers who hire illegals. As jobs dry up and citizenship is not an option the illegals will gradually diminish in number.

Sullivan's Complaint

Andrew Sullivan writes:

The absolute demands of fundamentalist faith make the West's tradition of civil compromise impossible; and they constantly push the boundaries of what is acceptable to God, as religious purists outdo each other in proving their righteousness - whether it be keeping comatose patients alive for decades or defining a zygote as a full human person. Hence our politics has degenerated into a "culture war." Wars are what happens when politics become impossible. And that is the corrosive effect of Christianism; and why it must be resisted - for the sake of American discourse and for the sake of a vibrant, humble apolitical Christianity.

In other words you can believe whatever you want but just don't base your politics on it. I wonder if Andrew would call Martin Luther King a Christianist, or William Wilberforce. I wonder if he'd castigate Jim Wallis at Sojourners for preaching that one's inner faith needs to bear outward fruit in the politics we adopt. I wonder if he condemns Jesse Jackson for basing his politics on his Christian convictions. Probably not. These Christians all support(ed) causes with which Sullivan agrees so he never really gets around to criticizing them.

It's the Christians who endorse policies with which he doesn't agree that win his opprobrium and merit the epithet Christianist. He recognizes that it is politically concerned Christians who are the greatest impediment to the homosexual agenda, of which he is a prominent advocate, and therefore the easiest way to get that agenda enacted is to delegitimize the most formidable opposition by burdening it with a silly and awkward pejorative.

Anyway, Andrew should check his history. The culture war has come about not because Christians have tried to impose laws and standards that never before existed but because secularists have tried to strip society of the laws and standards which had governed our social life for decades, or even centuries, and in the case of marriage, millenia.

The culture war exists because people like Sullivan seek to exclude anyone whose political opinions are based upon their religious beliefs from the public square. It is that attempt to win the public debate by discrediting the basis for one's opponents' opinions that generates the social and political ill-will that Sullivan laments.

UPDATE: Joe Carter reprises Sullivan's argument in Time magazine (which was titled My Problem With Christianism) with this piece titled My Problem With Sullivanism. It's great fun.

Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

The People's Republic of China is certainly no place for people to live, at least not if they yearn for basic human rights and freedoms:

A Chinese Internet writer was jailed for 12 years on Tuesday for "subversion of state power" after backing a movement by exiled dissidents to hold free elections, his lawyer said.

Yang Tianshui, 45, who has been in custody since last December, did not plan to appeal, a protest against a trial he felt was illegal, his lawyer, Li Jianqiang, said. Yang is one of several Internet writers and journalists being tried this month, amid what analysts say is a tightening of controls on media and freedom of expression.

Yang was charged after posting essays on the Internet in support of the "Velvet Action of China", a movement named for the "Velvet Revolution" that peacefully overthrew communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia.

He previously served 10 years on "counter-revolution" charges for condemning the military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators on Tiananmen Square, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. He was released in 2000.

The tough sentence comes a day after the lawyer for New York Times researcher Zhao Yan said the case against him had been revived, dashing hopes for his imminent release. He has been held since September 2004.

Of course, the People's Republic is a communist state, and despite the gushings of apologists like Noam Chomsky and others on the left, communists take a very attenuated view of things like human dignity and individual liberty. Communist political philosophy expresses little concern for such trifles. They do make up for the lack, though, in their fondness for cruelty.

The Clash of Civilizations

Dennis Prager disabuses anyone who believes that the war on terror is going to be like a slightly longer version of the invasion of Grenada. His column is important reading for anyone interested in the Islamic mindset, but it's absolutely crucial for anyone who thinks that the GWOT should be handled as if it were a police matter. The heart of his piece is this:

Nevertheless, one can say that from its inception, Islam has been imperialist. My working definition of imperialism is that of University of London professor Efraim Karsh, whose recent book, "Islamic Imperialism" (Yale University Press), is one of the few indispensable books on Islam.

Karsh defines imperialism as "conquering foreign lands and subjugating their populations." Whenever possible, Muslims from the time of Muhammad have done that. Now, the Church also subjugated peoples to Christianity, and Europe suffered from prolonged religious wars. But as Karsh notes, from its inception, Christianity acknowledged a separation of the religious and the political, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.

No such division was allowed for in Islam. That is why the nation-state developed in the Christian world but not in the Muslim world. The Muslim states of the Middle East, for example, are creations of Western (secular) imperialism or pre-date Islam (Egypt, for example); and they are foreign concepts to most Middle Eastern Muslims, who recognize themselves much more as part of the ummah, the Muslim community, than as Iraqis, Jordanians, Syrians, etc.

Nor is Islamic imperialism only a function of Muslim behavior rather than Muslim theology. Karsh opens his book citing the statements of four Muslim figures.

The Prophet Muhammad in his farewell address: "I was ordered to fight all men until they say, 'There is no god but Allah.'"

Saladin (great 12th-century founder of the Ayyubid dynasty that included Ayyubid Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and much of present-day Saudi Arabia): "I shall cross this sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah."

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (father of the Islamic revolution in Iran): "We will export our revolution throughout the world . . . until the calls 'There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah' are echoed all over the world."

Osama bin Laden in November 2001: "I was ordered to fight the people until they say 'there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.'"

No one should have a problem with Muslims wanting the whole world Muslim. After all, Christians would like the whole world to come to Christ. What should matter to all people is the answer to one question: What are you prepared to do to bring the world to your religion? For virtually every living Christian, the answer is through modeling and verbal persuasion (and Jews never believed the world needs to be Jewish).

But by the most conservative estimates, 10 percent of Muslims are in sympathy with the bin Laden way. That means at least 100 million people are prepared to murder (and apparently torture) in Allah's name. And given the history of Islamic imperialism and its roots in Muslim theology, hundreds of millions more are probably fellow travelers. Hence the almost unanimous Muslim governments' support for the genocidal Islamic regime in Sudan.

Millions of Muslims are determined to force us and our children to choose between the Koran and the sword. Those who deny we're in a war in which our survival as a nation, a culture, and individual persons is at stake are deluding themselves.