Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pastor Freed from Iranian Death Row

Long time readers of Viewpoint may recall our posts a year ago on Yousef Nadarkhani a Christian pastor, condemned to death in Iran for apostasy. Details are still sketchy, but it seems that Nadarkhani has, after three years in prison, been released. Evidently, the prayers and outcry from around the globe convinced the Iranians that executing him would be a public relations disaster:
Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who was originally sentenced to death in his native country for his Christian faith, was acquitted of apostasy charges and released from custody.

Nadarkhani, 32, was imprisoned for three years and waiting execution for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. His charges were lowered to evangelizing to Muslims, which carried a three-year sentence. He was released with time served, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington-based watchdog group that had been campaigning for the pastor's release.
Yousef Nadarkhani
You can read more on his release here.

Noonan on the DNC

Peggy Noonan's take on the Democratic National Convention is insightful and interesting. She seems sad that the party has devolved into something far different than the party of Harry Truman and JFK, but her analysis confirms my own thoughts as I watched the proceedings, and she expresses those thoughts far more eloquently than I could.

Here's part of her column in which she employs the adjective "extreme" in its proper context, doubtless as a satire on the promiscuous use of the word as a description of Republicans whose views are anything but extreme:
Was it a good convention?

Beneath the funny hats, the sweet-faced delegates, the handsome speakers and the babies waving flags there was something disquieting. All three days were marked by a kind of soft, distracted extremism. It was unshowy and unobnoxious but also unsettling.

There was the relentless emphasis on Government as Community, as the thing that gives us spirit and makes us whole. But government isn't what you love if you're American, America is what you love. Government is what you have, need and hire. Its most essential duties—especially when it is bankrupt—involve defending rights and safety, not imposing views and values. We already have values.

Democrats and Republicans don't see all this the same way, and that's fine—that's what national politics is, the working out of this dispute in one direction or another every few years. But the Democrats convened in Charlotte seemed more extreme on the point, more accepting of the idea of government as the center of national life, than ever, at least to me.

The fight over including a single mention of God in the platform—that was extreme. The original removal of the single mention by the platform committee—extreme. The huge "No!" vote on restoring the mention of God, and including the administration's own stand on Jerusalem — that wasn't liberal, it was extreme. Comparing the Republicans to Nazis — extreme. The almost complete absence of a call to help education by facing down the powers that throw our least defended children under the school bus—this was extreme, not mainstream.

The sheer strangeness of all the talk about abortion, abortion, contraception, contraception. I am old enough to know a wedge issue when I see one, but I've never seen a great party build its entire public persona around one. Big speeches from the heads of Planned Parenthood and NARAL, HHS Secretary and abortion enthusiast Kathleen Sebelius and, of course, Sandra Fluke.

"Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception," Ms. Fluke said. But why would anyone have included a Georgetown law student who never worked her way onto the national stage until she was plucked, by the left, as a personable victim? What a fabulously confident and ingenuous-seeming political narcissist Ms. Fluke is.

She really does think — and her party apparently thinks — that in a spending crisis with trillions in debt and many in need, in a nation in existential doubt as to its standing and purpose, in a time when parents struggle to buy the good sneakers for the kids so they're not embarrassed at school . . . that in that nation the great issue of the day, and the appropriate focus of our concern, is making other people pay for her birth-control pills. That's not a stand, it's a non sequitur. She is not, as Rush Limbaugh oafishly, bullyingly said, a slut. She is a ninny, a narcissist and a fool.

And she was one of the great faces of the party in Charlotte. That is extreme. Childish, too.
In the early paragraphs of her piece Noonan delivers one of the most masterfully crafted insults (directed at Vice-President Biden) I think I've ever read. It employs language a bit stronger than one might wish, even if one thinks it merited, but it'll probably go down in the annals of journalism as a classic. Check it out at the link.