Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ali Delivers a TKO

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali Muslim who grew up in the Netherlands and emigrated to the United States, is interviewed on Canadian television by an anti-American Canadian named Avi Lewis. After jabbing at her with most of the left-wing shibboleths about American evils, etc. and suffering the fervently pro-American Ali's gracious but powerful counterpunches, Lewis concludes the session by asking her if she went to a school where she learned all her pro-American cliches.

It was a pretty funny question considering that he sounded in the interview like he learned everything he believes about America from Michael Moore.

Anyway, watch the video. Hirsi Ali is a very impressive woman and she has a very important message for the West about Islam. If she were the model for every immigrant wishing to come into this country I'd campaign for open borders.

HT: Hot Air.


Killing the Goose

The Bush tax cuts are still producing revenue and lowering the deficit. Here's the story in case you only get your news from the MSM:

The nation's budget deficit will drop to $205 billion in the fiscal year that ends in September, less than half of what it was at its peak in 2004, according to new White House estimates.

The new figure is considerably smaller than original estimates. In February, the White House predicted that this year's deficit would be $244 billion because of stronger-than-expected revenue collections. The deficit hit a peak of $413 billion in 2004 and was $248 billion last year.

The deficit would be much lower, of course, if Congress and the White House hadn't gone on a spending binge over the last five or so years.

Nevertheless, despite the salutary effects of the Bush tax cuts, they're in jeopardy. The Democrats, always quick to take the axe to the neck of whatever goose is laying the golden egg, want to abolish the Bush tax policy, raise taxes, and thereby stifle economic prosperity.

And, for some unfathomable reason, people will still vote for them.


Blessing and Curse

Paul Marshall discusses in NRO the Hudson Institute's Religious Freedom report. There's much in the report that makes for interesting reading, but in his summary Marshall calls special attention to the following:

Religious freedom [is not] merely a Western preoccupation: It is not confined to any area or continent. Despite the problems in the Islamic world, there are free Muslim countries such as Mali or Senegal. They, together with Japan, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa score better in this survey than do Belgium, France, Germany, or Greece.

While Western Europe is still one of the freest regions of the world, the situation is worsening and most countries score worse on religious freedom than they do for civil liberties in general. The reasons for this - continuing religious discrimination, increasingly aggressive secular ideologies, and an increase in religiously demarcated violence - illustrate and exacerbate the continent's increasing tensions.

This is not surprising given the depressing reports flowing out of Europe lately. Europe is becoming increasingly polarized between a hard-core secularism and an intolerant Islamism. It's ironic that the nursery of Christianity has come to despise the worldview that is responsible for whatever cultural glory it has achieved.

The most egregious persecuting states tend to be either Communist, such as North Korea and China, nationalist, such as Burma and Eritrea, or radical Islamist, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. They also tend to be those that act against U.S. interests. Conversely, those with good records are likely to be good U.S. allies.

Nor is this surprising. Countries whose leaders have respected religious liberty have rarely, if ever, gone to war with each other in the last 200 years.

Religious freedom also correlates highly with other human rights, such as Freedom House's civil-liberty index (.862) and political-liberties index (.822), and with Reporters without Borders press-freedom index (.804). Countries with good religious records also have comparatively little social conflict, remain democratic, and are unlikely to become failed states.

There is strong relation with economic well-being; both of men and women, and religiously based social restrictions on women are one of the major determinants of their economic status. One major reason for this is the strong linkage with economic freedom: Our religious-freedom scores have a correlation of .743 with the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal economic-freedom index. This is more than a finding that rich countries tend to have other good things as well. Religious freedom not only correlates well with positive economic outcomes but also actually contributes toward them since it promotes the accumulation of social and spiritual capital. Good religious policies, good economic policies, and good economic outcomes go together.

Meanwhile, anti-theists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens rail against Christianity. They insist that Christian theism is a blight upon civilization and should be abolished. They argue that teaching children religious dogma is a form of "child abuse." Their hatred clouds their reason and prevents them from seeing the evidence that Christianity has, on balance, been a tremendous blessing to the world and state atheism, especially in the twentieth century, has been a terrible curse.

St. Paul might have had people like our modern anti-theists in mind when, in his letter to the Romans, he talks about those who, "Professing themselves wise...became fools.... [and] exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator."