Saturday, August 19, 2006


Debka File has fallen out of favor with bloggers who seem to have grown suspicious of its credibility. It is with some reluctance, therefore, that I link to this article which puts an entirely different slant on the recent war than anything I've seen previously. It's very interesting. Whether it's credible I'll leave to you to decide.

While you're there you might be interested in this news piece which reports that Lebanon is willingly turning a blind eye to Israeli interdiction of Syrian and Iranian resupply efforts.

Racism in America

A recent Comment article by Vincent Bacote argues that racism still exists in America. His basis for this assertion seems to be that many upscale neighborhoods have few if any blacks living in them and many Christian schools have few black faculty.

Now it may be true that racism is still a problem in American culture - though I'd argue that white racism is no longer a significant barrier to black progress and much of the overt racism that persists in our culture is to be found among blacks - but how Bacote's argument supports this claim is far from clear. The absence of blacks from parts of our socio-economic culture is no more evidence of racism than the dearth of white NCAA basketball players is evidence of racism.

In order to persuade me that racism is behind the lack of black children in the backyards of our toniest communities and the scant numbers of black faces in the faculty yearbook pictures at evangelical schools, I would need to have shown to me evidence that black families who had the means to live in the exclusive neighborhoods were denied that opportunity and that blacks with adequate credentials were denied faculty appointments despite having applied for job openings. Mr. Bacote doesn't do this. He simply points to the absence of blacks and infers that racism must be the cause.

The closest he comes to making a case is when he writes:

If you have many minority friends, I doubt you can question whether racism is still an ongoing challenge for some of them, from experiences of personal prejudice to subtle manifestations of corporate and structural injustice. Although laws prevent people from being excluded from opportunities for success, why do many minorities remain on the outside or ignorant of the "normal" patterns for wealth creation?

I'm afraid that I have long ago grown suspicious of what we might call the argument from personal perception. A man is denied a loan by a bank, say, and he simply assumes that it's because of his race when in fact race may have had not nearly as much to do with it as did his financial history. Another black man is stopped in a white neighborhood by the police. He assumes that his crime is "Driving While Black" and that the cops are racist when in fact they've been told to look for a black man who is reported to have assaulted someone in that neighborhood. These two individuals both perceive themselves to be the "victims" of white racism when actually neither of them were. They then extrapolate from their experience to the conclusion that racism is pervasive when indeed there is no warrant in their experience for such a conclusion. No doubt some people have experienced genuine racism at the hands of both whites and blacks, but I'd like to hear the facts of the case and not just be expected to take it on trust that the episode in question really was motivated by racial animosity.

The question why minorities "remain on the outside" is an important one to answer if that tragic circumstance is ever going to change, but we'll never arrive at a helpful answer to it until we get over the reflexive tendency to blame white racism first.

Castrate 'Em All

Joy at Telic Thoughts points us to this thread at Phyrangula in which we find Darwinians upset that so few Americans embrace the theory of naturalistic evolution. An economist is quoted as saying that:

It turns out that the United States had the second-highest percentage of adults who said the statement was false - and the second-lowest percentage who said the statement was true, researchers reported in the current issue of Science. (Only adults in Turkey expressed more doubts on evolution).

What is the penalty for this belief system? Well, you probably won't get a Science-based job - but that's about it.

The acceptance of evolution is lower in the United States than in Japan or Europe, largely because of widespread fundamentalism and the politicization of science in the United States.

That - and the lack of any sort of financial or societal disincentive for the belief system. At least so far.

One of the readers of this blog then asks whether establishing such disincentives is feasible or practical. It never occurs to him/her to ask whether it's moral. Another proposes a societal disincentive on fundamentalists - a breeding ban - and no one seems to take exception to his suggestion:

The perfect disincentive for evolution deniers: breeding bans. It's the perfect opportunity for an ID experiment. If God really exists and he loves fundaloons as much as they seem to think, he'll create their next generation ex nihilo. Dan.

Instead of calling Dan on his fascism and placing a swastika next to his name, the commenters traipse merrily off on a tangent, giving themselves to the question whether capitalist freedom is better than socialist authoritarianism. Presumably it's difficult, after all, to imagine how a breeding ban could be imposed on Christians in a capitalist system, but not so difficult to imagine how it could be accomplished under a more authoritarian regime.

Pharyngula affords us a very troubling glimpse of atheists engaged in what passes for them as moral discourse.

It's Not Just About Gays Anymore

Since our inception over two years ago we have maintained that the legalization of gay marriage would end marriage as an institution by opening the door to any union into which any number of people desire to enter. Once the gender of the partners in a marriage no longer matters, we've argued, there remain no logical grounds for thinking that the number of partners matters. Such arguments were greeted with derisory smirks by the likes of Andrew Sullivan and other defenders of gay marriage. It's nonsense, they scoffed, to think that groups of people would be petitioning our courts for the marriage franchise.

Nonsense it may be but now comes word that precisely this is being demanded, not by fringe dwellers but by mainstream thinkers in American culture. Ryan Anderson explains what's happening in the Weekly Standard:

For now, a distinguished group of scholars, civic leaders, and LGBT activists has grasped the full implications of a retreat from the conjugal conception of marriage--and has publicly embraced those implications. These gay-rights leaders have explicitly endorsed relationships consisting of multiple (more than two) sexual partners, and have even argued that justice requires both state recognition and universal acceptance of such relationships.

Their statement, "Beyond Gay Marriage," was released recently as a full-page ad in the New York Times. Full of candor, the statement's mission is "to offer friends and colleagues everywhere a new vision for securing governmental and private institutional recognition of diverse kinds of partnerships, households, kinship relationships and families." The statement lists several examples of such relationships, among them "committed, loving households in which there is more than one conjugal partner"--that is, polygamy and polyamory.

But this is mild compared to what follows: demand for the legal recognition of "queer couples who decide to jointly create and raise a child with another queer person or couple, in two households." The language is breathtaking. Queer couples (plural) who jointly create a child? And intentionally raise the child in two (queer) households? Of course, no reference is made to the child's interests or welfare under such an arrangement--only to the fulfillment of adult desires by suitable "creations."

Put simply, the logic of "Beyond Gay Marriage" would result in the abolition of marriage as we know it. The authors tellingly write:

"Marriage is not the only worthy form of family or relationship, and it should not be legally and economically privileged above all others. While we honor those for whom marriage is the most meaningful personal--for some, also a deeply spiritual--choice, we believe that many other kinds of kinship relationships, households, and families must also be accorded recognition."

The stated goal of these prominent gay activists is no longer merely the freedom to live as they want. Rather, it is to force you, your family, and the state to recognize and respect their myriad choices. The result of meeting these demands will be a culture, a legal system, and a government that considers a monogamous, exclusive, permanent sexual relationship of child-bearing and child-rearing nothing more than one among many lifestyle choices. The claim that marriage is normative for the flourishing of spouses, children, and society--not to mention any attempt to enshrine in law this unique human good--would be considered bigotry. In other words, marriage as a social institution would be destroyed.

Anyone who cared to could see this coming the day the first gay couple petitioned the courts to be allowed to marry. Perhaps, though, the news is not all bad. Now that the logical implications of gay marriage are out in the open and clear to all but the most obtuse observer, it may be hoped that courts and legislatures which may have otherwise been sympathetic to the wish of gays and lesbians to have same-sex unions legalized will now take pause.

Meanwhile, the "Beyond Gay Marriage" agenda should be publicized far and wide so that the American public understands that gay marriage is not just about gays anymore.