Monday, April 9, 2012

Parental Warning

Paul Pardi at Philosophy News features this poster warning parents of alarming studies that find that one in five kids will experiment with philosophy.

Parents - be sure you're able to recognize the warning signs:

Suppressing Dissent

Diversity is important, any modern progressive academic will tell you, and every university should aim to have a faculty that has a mix of genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. It's important to liberals to expose themselves and others to a wide variety of different perspectives, at least it is unless the variety of perspectives includes unacceptable religious or political views. At that point lines need to be drawn.

A university will bend over backward to ensure they have all genders and races, gays, transvestites, transsexuals, vegans and pagans on their faculty, but if a highly qualified candidate for employment is manifestly Christian and/or conservative, well, diversity must not be carried too far. At least, that's the lesson this female law professor has learned:
Teresa Wagner, who works as an associate director of writing at the University of Iowa College of Law, is suing former dean Carolyn Jones for employment discrimination, claiming she was not hired for a professor position because Jones and other law faculty disapproved of her conservative views and activism.

Wagner, who graduated with honors from the law school in 1993, has taught at the George Mason University School of Law. She has also worked for the National Right to Life Committee, which opposes abortion, and the conservative Family Research Council.

In 2006, Wagner applied for a full-time instructor position with the law school and was denied. She was also rejected for an adjunct or full-time position in four subsequent attempts, according to her attorney, Stephen T. Fieweger.

Fieweger said Wagner's candidacy was dismissed because of her conservative views, and he cited a 2007 email from Associate Dean Jonathan C. Carlson to Jones in which Carlson wrote: "Frankly, one thing that worries me is that some people may be opposed to Teresa serving in any role, in part at least because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it)."
There's more on the story at the link. It's astonishing that liberals are so concerned about diversity in matters of race, gender, and sexual orientation, but diversity of thought and opinion they despise. They're very concerned about justice, but their concern extends only to justice for people who think like themselves. Justice for conservatives is not high on their list of priorities, at least not at Iowa University College of Law.

It's a very small-minded frame of mind, but it shows itself so often where liberals are in positions of power that it seems that it's more than just ideological blindness. Dissent in liberal precincts is considered good and noble only when it is liberals who are dissenting from traditional pieties and orthodoxies. When conservatives assail the dogmas of liberalism the unfortunate deviants can expect to be cast out into outer darkness, and the irony is that the people doing the casting out fancy themselves to be enlightened champions of free speech and free thought.

God's Battalions

In your high school world history classes you may have been taught that the Crusades were an unprovoked assault on peaceful Muslims carried out by a greedy European church and aristocracy in order to plunder and pillage. You may also have been taught that the Crusaders were brutal barbarians who, though usually outclassed by a superior foe, often managed to massacre highly cultured, tolerant Muslims whose armies fought only to defend themselves, their lands, and their religion. Perhaps you also learned that it's the bitter memory of those Crusades that fuels modern Islamic resentments toward the West.

That's the narrative that has dominated Western education for a century and it's the narrative perpetuated by films like Kingdom of Heaven and by the media in the wake of 9/11, but as historian Rodney Stark argues in God's Battalions, none of it is true.

In his book, which often reads like a novel, Stark documents the provocations which led to the Crusades, how for four hundred years Muslims had attacked, killed, raped, and enslaved Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land and slaughtered Christian populations in cities that had been Christian from the earliest days of the church. Muslim armies swept across North Africa, conquering Italy, Sicily, and much of Spain, putting tens of thousands to the sword and enslaving women and children. Mohammed himself was responsible for the mass beheadings of 700 Jews in Medina who were first made to dig their own graves.

(This is not to say that the Crusaders were not also guilty of atrocities. German forces slaughtered Jews in the Rhineland at the outset of the first and second Crusades despite the frantic effort of Catholic bishops to save the victims.)

During the Crusades themselves Muslim troops, despite having superior numbers and the advantage of short supply lines, were rarely a match for the technologically superior Crusaders. The Europeans won almost every engagement against their Islamic foes, and were ultimately defeated, after over 200 years of protecting the Holy Lands, not because of Muslim skill and tactics but because people in Europe grew weary of sustaining the expense necessary to field an army so far from home.

The movie Kingdom of Heaven portrays the Europeans defending Jerusalem as largely thuggish savages and the Muslims under Saladin as compassionate and merciful. The facts are otherwise. Saladin was a ruthless killer responsible for numerous massacres both before and after his victory at Jerusalem, a victory due largely to the fact that the city was defended by only two knights and a multitude of untrained refugees and other "civilians".

It was the custom at the time that if a city surrendered without the besieging army having to take it by force, the defenders would be given safe passage. The defenders of Jerusalem requested such terms and Saladin granted them. He allowed about half of the inhabitants to pay a ransom and leave unmolested, but not because he was particularly chivalrous. Indeed, he enslaved about half of those who couldn't afford the price. Moreover, at the battle of Hattin he looked on with glee as his underlings took turns beheading captured Crusader knights, and even participated himself in the butchery.

If you enjoy reading history I highly recommend God's Battalions. Not only does it illuminate important events and dispel numerous myths about the Crusades, it's also a very enjoyable, even fascinating, read.