Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two Myths

"The Day of Judgment will only come when Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. When the Jews hide behind the rocks and the trees and the rocks and the trees cry out, 'Oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding being me, come and kill him.'" A saying of the Prophet Mohammed

Among the myths from which many Americans need to be liberated there are two that are especially pernicious.

The first is the myth that the left is the champion of free speech in America and the second is the myth that the haters among Muslims represent only a tiny fraction of the Muslim population and that they're largely overseas in any event.

David Horowitz is a former radical leftist who later in life realized that the left was the greatest enemy of human freedom in the West in the 20th century. He subsequently set about giving speeches and writing books about the threats we face from those who would, if they could, put the boot of oppression on our necks. His work takes him to many university campuses where he and others who share his views, must be protected by armed guards not only from leftist campus thugs but also from violently disruptive, hate-filled Muslim students.

He recently gave a speech at USC that I wish every American would read in its entirety. It gives a clear picture of how far along the process of denying freedom of speech and imposing other fascist strategies upon this country has progressed. The speech reveals some frightening truths, but even more frightening is the fact that so many Amercans are oblivious to what's happening on many of our largest campuses and how complicit university administrators are in facilitating the hatred that is being directed against Christians, Jews and anyone who opposes the Islamist agenda.

Please take fifteen minutes or so and read Horowitz's speech. It'll open your eyes.


Re: Haiti

Byron pens a caution that my criticism that the aid given to Haiti in the last two decades, totaling several billion dollars, has been largely for naught, is unfair. He points out that in fact much good has been accomplished:

I'm not sure "money thrown" at the problems in Haiti was really just "thrown" nor utterly wasted. Sure some programs and schemes were less effective, but not every aid program was pointless. Schools taught some kids, some clean wells were built, some vaccinations given, some roads built, some hospitals equipped. Those doing development work still have a lot to learn, and local folks do too. But it isn't as if we didn't save some kids from starvation, help some people in good ways, and make a bit of a difference. Tearing off the darkness doesn't come easily, but some successes have been seen, even in Haiti. Brooks is right to insist on cultural ideals that are wise, and to point out the bad infra-structure isn't anything new, really. He's right, but it isn't anything that "liberals" would disagree with. Did you mean to imply as much?

He's right, of course, that much good has been done in Haiti and that that miserable land would be in far worse shape than it is had Americans and others not helped, but we must distinguish aid, which is a government to government transfer, from the work of charities, mission organizations, disaster relief, etc. Most of the good that Byron talks about has been accomplished by private, non-government organizations (NGOs), not through aid which often winds up in the pockets of corrupt politicians, the military, and other thugs. Some of it might seep through the layers of corruption to the people, but it's hardly a good return on our money.

Byron goes on to say that:

I know a number of NGO workers, policy wonks and missionaries. Some are evangelicals, some are active more mainline congregations or traditions. I just don't know anybody who has that simplistic ideology that we can't critique any third world group or indigenous practices. Making liberal ideas about multi-culturalism a whipping boy is too easy and, while may having a grain of truth, I think you overstated it.

This is doubtless true. The people who actually work in other cultures are much less likely to suffer the illusion that all cultures deserve respect or that it's chauvinistic to think one culture superior to another. It is to illustrate this that I appended the letter from my missionary friend to the post. The "multicultural blather" doesn't come from people most familiar with the culture in which they labor to bring relief from misery, it comes from the academy, the media, and the political sphere and seeps down into our popular discourse and determines our assumptions about the world.

We fail to do what needs to be done to bring about genuine change in these places because we're cowed into thinking we'll be called racists, imperialists, paternalists, and colonialists by those who insist that we have no right to impose our cultural values on others - that our culture is no better than theirs. So instead we just send aid which is essentially welfare for corruptocrats, and saints like my friend and Byron's acquaintances stick their fingers in the dike heroically making their life's work trying to hold back the tide.

The rest of By's email can be read on the Feedback page.

Those who want to read up on the problems of giving aid to poor countries should read Dambisia Moya's Dead Aid, or Paul Collier's Bottom Billion.


Most Influential

Need a quick primer on who's who in contemporary ideological warfare? The Telegraph U.K. has ranked the most influential conservatives and the most influential liberals in the U.S. They actually rank the top 100 of each but they break the lists into installments of twenty. The top twenty conservatives are featured here and the top twenty liberals are here.

There are links to the other 80 people on each list as well.

I question a number of their choices (Joe Lieberman was ranked in the second twenty as a conservative?!), but overall I think they did a pretty good job.

The most influential liberal was a foregone conclusion, I think, but I was surprised by the Telegraph's choice of the most influential conservative.

Thanks to Jason for the link.