Saturday, August 26, 2006

Racist Ray in Chocolate City

Tropical storm Ernesto appears to be headed right for ... New Orleans. New Orleanians re-elected Racist Ray Nagin as mayor on Racist Ray's promise that their city will be "a chocolate city at the end of the day", and maybe he'll soon see his prophecy fulfilled. If Ernesto progresses to a hurricane and hits New Orleans, the only people who'll be living amidst the chocolate brown flood waters by next summer will be the people too poor and too helpless to move anywhere else. These people, as we were endlessly reminded by the news media last fall, are primarily African-American.

I'm sure that this time around Mayor Nagin will show more leadership and foresight than he was able to summon last year and make certain that he has enough federal officials on hand to plan for the evacuation, turn the keys in the school busses, and drive those citizens who need transport to safer regions out of town.

Why does he need the feds to do that, you ask? Why can't city officials be mobilized to do what's necessary to assist their taxpayers? Well, when you're busy doing important stuff like turning your city into a racially homogenous community you can't be expected to do little things like plan how to handle an evacuation. That's what the federal government is for.

Lucky Us

We've linked to this site before, about a year ago, I guess, but it's worth another visit. Notice that as you view the earth's position in the Milky Way that it's actually situated between two spiral arms. Guillermo Gonzalez points out in Privileged Planet that this location is absolutely essential not only for intelligent life like us to exist on earth but also for that life to be able to do significant science.

This is because if our solar system were in a spiral arm there would be so much dust and debris in our immediate neighborhood that it would have a chaotic effect on the earth's surface and consequently on any life trying to evolve there. It would also obscure our view of the sky which would have prevented us, if we somehow could have emerged in such an uncongenial environment, from ever really learning anything about our universe. This in turn would have impeded the development of modern physics.

Notice, too, how far earth is from the galactic center (about 27,000 light years). This puts us pretty much in the middle of the galactic habitable zone, a band around the galactic center in which conditions are suitable for life. If our solar system were much closer or much further away from the center, intelligent life would be impossible.

Perhaps we should give thanks to random chance and the laws of physics for accidentally producing such a serendipitous bit of good fortune.

The President's Problem

...the administration's problem is not really its (sound) strategy, nor its increasingly improved implementation that we see in Baghdad, but simply an American public that so far understandably cannot easily differentiate millions of brave Iraqis and Afghans, who risk their lives daily to hunt terrorists and ensure reform, from the Islamists of the Muslim Street who broadcast their primordial hatred for Israel and the United States incessantly.

So how can one expect Americans to witness the barbarism of the jihadists, the creepy rhetoric of the imams and mullahs, the triangulation of Arab governments, and the puerility of the Muslim Street, pause, take a deep breath, and sigh, "Ah, they are frustrated because they are unfree and poor, and so in error blame us for their own autocracies' failures. Therefore, we must be generous in our sacrifices to allow them the same opportunities for freedom that we enjoy."

How odd that the president must explain the pathologies of the Middle East to such a degree as to warn Americans of our mortal danger, but not to the point of excess so that we feel that there is no hope for such people. He must somehow suggest that jihadism could not imperil us were it not for the "moderates" who tolerate and appease it - while this is the very same group that we feel duty-bound to offer an alternative other than theocracy or dictatorship. And he must offer a postwar plan of reconstruction to the citizens of the Middle East at a time when many of them do not feel that their romantic jihadists have ever really been defeated at all.

Even the eloquence of a Lincoln or Churchill would find all that difficult.

From another fine piece of analysis by Victor Davis Hanson at National Review Online.

A Glimpse of Europe's Future

The New York Times has an article that gives us some insight as to what life in a Muslim country is like for Christian converts:

From the scant personal details that can be pieced together about Lina Joy, she converted from Islam to Christianity eight years ago and since then has endured extraordinary hurdles in her desire to marry the man in her life. Her name is a household word in this majority Muslim country. But she is now in hiding after death threats from Islamic extremists, who accuse her of being an apostate.

Five years ago she started proceedings in the civil courts to seek the right to marry her Christian fianc� and have children. Because she had renounced her Muslim faith, Ms. Joy, 42, argued, Malaysia's Islamic Shariah courts, which control such matters as marriage, property and divorce, did not have jurisdiction over her.

In a series of decisions, the civil courts ruled against her. Then, last month, her lawyer, Benjamin Dawson, appeared before Malaysia's highest court, the Court of Appeals, to argue that Ms. Joy's conversion be considered a right protected under the Constitution, not a religious matter for the Shariah courts.

"She's trying to live her life with someone she loves," Mr. Dawson said in an interview.

Threats against Ms. Joy had become so insistent, and the passions over her conversion so inflamed, he had concluded there was no room for her and her fianc� in Malaysia. The most likely solution, he said, was for her to emigrate. For Malaysia, which considers itself a moderate and modern Muslim country with a tolerance for its multiple religions and ethnic groups of Malays, Indians and Chinese, the case has kicked up a firestorm that goes to the very heart of who is a Malay, and what is Malaysia.

Her case has heightened a searing battle that has included street protests and death threats between groups advocating a secular interpretation of the Constitution, and Islamic groups that contend the Shariah courts should have supremacy in many matters....

...."Malaysia is at a crossroads," Mr. Dawson said. "Do we go down the Islamic road, or do we maintain the secular character of the federal constitution that has been eroding in the last 10 years?" In rulings in her case, civil courts said Malays could not renounce Islam because the Constitution defined Malays to be Muslims.

They also ruled that a request to change her identity card from Muslim to Christian had to be decided by the Shariah courts. There she would be considered an apostate, and if she did not repent she surely would be sentenced to several years in an Islamic center for rehabilitation.

Mr. Dawson said Ms. Joy had been interested in Roman Catholicism since 1990 and was baptized in 1998 at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Kuala Lumpur. Because she considered herself a Christian, Ms. Joy did not believe the Shariah courts applied to her. In an affidavit to a lower civil court in 2000, she said she felt "more peace in my spirit and soul after having become a Christian."

Because of the death threats, including some calls to hunt her down, Mr. Dawson said, he could not say where she was, and could not make her available for an interview, even by telephone. Similarly, her fianc�, whom Mr. Dawson referred to as Johnson, a Christian of ethnic Indian background whom Ms. Joy met in 1990, had received death threats and was not prepared to be interviewed.

Last month, Prime Minister Badawi appeared to side with the Islamists when he ordered that forums organized around the country to discuss religious freedom must stop. The forums, run by a group called Article 11, named after the section of the Constitution that says Malaysians are free to choose their religion, were disrupted on several occasions by Islamic protesters.

The chief organizer of the Article 11 forums, a well-known human rights lawyer, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a Muslim, received a death threat this month that was widely circulated by e-mail. With the heading "Wanted Dead," the message featured a photograph of Mr. Malik and said: "This is the face of the traitorous lawyer to Islam who supports the Lina Joy apostasy case. Distribute to our friends so they can recognize this traitor. If you find him dead by the side of the road, do not help."

Mr. Malik, 36, who presented a brief in support of Ms. Joy to the Appeals Court, said he was seeking police protection. "We must not confuse the crucial distinction between a country in which the majority are Muslims, and is thus an Islamic country, and a country in which the supreme law is the Shariah, an Islamic state," Mr. Malik said.

Conversions of Muslims to Christianity are not common in Malaysia, though most converts do not seek official approval for marriage and therefore do not run into the obstacles Ms. Joy confronted. One 38-year-old convert, who said in an interview at a Roman Catholic parish that he would provide only his Christian names, Paul Michael, and not his surname, for fear of retribution, described how he led a double life.

"Church members know us as who we are, and the outside world knows us as we were," he said. He was fearful, he said, that if his conversion became public the religious authorities would come after him, and he could be sentenced to a religious rehabilitation camp. One such place, hidden in the forest at Ulu Yam Baru, 20 miles outside the capital, is ringed like a prison by barbed wire, with dormitories protected by a second ring of barbed wire. Outside a sign says, "House of Faith," and inside the inmates spend much of their time studying Islam.

Paul Michael said he and other former Muslims moved from church to church for services to avoid detection. They call themselves "M.M.B.B.," for Malay Muslim Background Believers. "It's a group of Malays who are no longer Muslims," he said.

As the Muslim population of Europe grows and their demands that Islamic law be allowed to govern Muslim communities grow more insistent, it will not be surprising if stories like this start emerging more frequently from "Eurabia".