:: Friday, March 31, 2006 ::
The Ruses of Domestic Islamic 'Rage' Against Freedom of Speech
Posted by Edward Cline at 9:31 AM
"We can look as far back as the 1930's in the years prior to the Holocaust when Nazi Germany circulated hate-filled images of our Jewish brothers and sisters throughout society...It is necessary for all of us to stand together and speak out against this, as hatred does not discriminate against any color, race, creed, or religion; all it does is hate."No, this was not an appeal written by a Jewish person to protest the abominable depiction of Jews in Arab newspapers and on Arab news media. It was written by Maheen H. Farooqi, President of the Islamic Center at New York University in a broadcast email alert to the school's Muslims about the display of the Danish Mohammed cartoons during a panel discussion on them at the university on March 29th, and to organize a demonstration against the event.
NYU President John Sexton caved in to pressure from this group and announced that if the cartoons were displayed, the event must be closed to the public, and only "members of the NYU community" would be allowed to hear the panel discussion. Subsequently, not only was there a demonstration by Muslim students, but many of them bought tickets to the event and destroyed them in an effort to limit attendance.
Meanwhile, in the real world of book retailing, Borders and its affiliate Waldenbooks have banned a forthcoming issue of "Free Inquiry" from their magazine racks because that number of the periodical will feature inside it some of the Danish cartoons. Cited were a fear of violence from radical Muslims and a desire to ensure the safety of the chain's employees and customers.
Creeping socialism. Stealthy statism. The slippery slope of censorship and "responsible" public policy, also known as self-censorship. Someone please correct me, but I believe that Ayn Rand once remarked that at the rate the West is deteriorating, it will not end with a bang, but with a burp. The foregoing instances of submission to Islamic threats and pressure are warnings and guarantees of more to come.
If you have not already noticed it, endorsement of the display of the Danish cartoons -- indeed, any expression of criticism about Islam -- is steadily being equated with racism, hatred, and discrimination. And not only that, but Mr. Farooqi has the unmitigated but apparently effective gall to assert a "bond" with "our Jewish brothers and sisters." His email "call to arms" is too long to reprint here, but it is chock full of gems.
The Holocaust? Does not Mr. Farooqi know that the president of Iran, Adolf Ahmadinejad, has denied that it ever occurred?
"We, however, would not encourage racism is (sic) any shape or form, and to us and many others, these cartoons are racist and we adamantly oppose their display."
So, don't look at them. No, that's too easy advice to follow. It's almost as though he and his protest organizers want to see them in order to whip the Muslim masses into a window and skull breaking lather. In order to frighten cowards like John Sexton into capitulating to their "demands." In order to impose censorship.
Oh, no, we don't want to impose censorship! Allah forbid!
"The event itself and the topic that the students would like to discuss is not problematic in any way, but the pictures themselves are just hatred and there is (sic) no justification in preaching something breeds that kind of hate."
So, Mr. Farooqi and his "brothers and sisters" won't mind a panel discussion of the cartoons, so long as the subject is not present, if it is unseen, invisible. Excuse me, but that ultimatum is problematic. If the subject of the discussion cannot be shown or displayed, what is it, then, that would be discussed? An abstraction that had no anchor in reality. It would be tantamount to a court trying a murder case but declaring all evidence of it inadmissible. And if the subject has already been deemed "hateful," why discuss it at all?
What a formula for shutting down men's minds for fear of provoking irrational emotional outbursts and threats to one's life! What an appeal to submit to unreason!
And what an excuse for Mr. Sexton, Borders, the Wall Street Journal and others to turn tail and betray the First Amendment! With allies like them, who needs Islam to imperil the Bill of Rights?
But the chief interest here is the stress Mr. Farooqi and his colleagues at CAIR and other Islamic organizations are beginning to put on race, hatred and discrimination. Now, Islam is a set of ideas (if a random set of injunctions to kill or enslave infidels, together with contextless homilies, can be said to be a set of "ideas"), and to oppose it or criticize it is not synonymous with "racism." Aside from the fact that numerous Caucasians, blacks and Asians have converted to Islam, it is beyond anyone's power to deny that most Muslims are of Mideastern Semitic or of other large racial stocks. All intelligent, rational criticism of Islam has been targeted at the nature of the creed and its agenda of conquest, together with the fact that most jihadists and suicide bombers have been and will continue to be Muslim.
Consider also the near conversion to a saccharine Islam of the Canadian "peace worker" hostages who, upon release, did not thank the American, British and Canadian soldiers who freed them, and whose statements lead one to believe that they would have been perfectly willing to remain hostages until they rotted. Their selflessness was in the same league as any suicide bomber's. Or consider the statements and behavior of American journalist Jill Carroll, who upon her release by her captors began spouting sympathy for the mahujadeen (Islamic warriors) who were only "defending their country against occupation" and who flaunted Muslim female dress.
It is those mahujadeen, otherwise known as "insurgents," who are killing her fellow countrymen and thousands of the Iraqis she purported loves.
Were these former Western hostages brainwashed in captivity? No. To judge by their portrayals in Western news media before they were taken hostage, they were already selfless airheads, susceptible to conversion to Islam.
Mr. Farooqi wrote:
"These same cartoons unfortunately have lead to riots, protests, beatings, and deaths all round the world."
And all that carnage, together with the burning of Western embassies and the fatwahs against the Danish cartoonists, who have gone into hiding, has been the handiwork of whom? Whose violence was being committed?
That of Muslims -- Sunnis, Shi'ites, and other sects of that mind-suffocating, tongue-severing creed were the ones on the rampage.
Most Americans -- indeed, most Caucasian Westerners -- wouldn't know a Muslim unless he announced the fact.
Do the cartoons foster hatred? It is healthy and life-preserving to hate something that is inimical to one's freedom of speech and thought. But the cartoons do not foster hatred. They are mildly amusing; some are incomprehensible.
Islam, however, doesn't want anyone to be amused by Mohammed. It wants men to fear him and obey his Allah, just as Winston Smith in Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was expected to fear, revere, and love Big Brother. Otherwise, how could anyone submit to his will? In that great film comedy, "His Girl Friday," Cary Grant as Walter Burns shouts to his page editor over the phone: "Take Hitler and stick him on the funny pages!" That's where Mohammed truly belongs, in the comics, in the company of Hagar the Horrible and the Wizard of Id. Or in a Monty Python movie. When was the last time a Scandinavian suicide bomber blew up a Christian church because Leif Erickson and the Vikings were the subject of humor?
Is dislike or fear of Islam discriminatory? Discrimination is anyone's right, especially when it entails discriminating against mysticism and anyone who threatens physical force or terror in its name. Discrimination in this instance is not a matter of race or hatred, but of reason-based revulsion for a degrading, freedom-crushing creed.
No, the accusations of racism, hatred and discrimination are merely ruses, or strawmen, employed to deflect attention away from Islam's goal of suppressing any and all criticism of it, to frighten men from any thought of opposing it lest they be accused of those things.
In the case of NYU and Borders, it worked. As a reward, alumni and corporations should refuse to donate money to NYU, and the school's trustees should fire Sexton. And Borders and Waldenbooks should be subjected to a national boycott until its finds the courage to exercise its right of freedom of speech.
And the cartoons should be proudly and fearlessly displayed.
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Second Carnival of the Objectivists tomorrow!
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 8:48 AM
Just a quick reminder--tomorrow, April 1st, the Rule of Reason hosts the second Carnival of the Objectivists. And you know after a week like this one, there's going to be a ton of blogs to cover.
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:: Thursday, March 30, 2006 ::
That's because his arguments knock on your glass house
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 1:28 PM
Here's another report on the NYU event, this time from Pamela at Atlas Shrugs:
Schwartz made some salient points but he was so apoplectic over the rise of the religious right I had to turn him off at points. Equating the power of the religious right with the rabid left was moral equivalence and just plain wrong. They have not taken over the Republican party the way the far left has hijacked the Democratic party platform. Schwartz was a raving atheist, unforgiving of religion.So now it should be clear why I dropped Pamela from the blogroll. It should also clear up how a misintergrator, that is, a person who hijacks valid points to smuggle in their other bad premises, are such dangerous characters. Yes, the religious right is a pernicious force in America, and a person is not "raving" for saying so, and yes, religion as such deserves no forgiveness. That's what Christians do—they forgive their enemies and turn the other cheek. Objectivists pronounce moral judgment, for the simple reason that our lives depend on it.
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Muslim censorship effort targets NYU Objectivists III
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 12:15 PM
Right-Wing Reason has a first-person report (with photos) on yesterday's NYU Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons event (Hat tip: Passing Thoughts).
I was forced to leave before the end of the debate, as I had to come back for a staff meeting, but all in all, I think it was very informative. As I was leaving, people were STILL in line, waiting to get through the metal detector. Barring some outrageous event occurring in the last bit of the program, I think the only bit of "news" there tonight was that if you complain loud enough, and people are scared enough, you can get what you want. And that's sad.This guy as well.
Or at least this guy thought so.
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Millions for defense, but not one cent for suckers
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 9:09 AM
Ed Thompson has a plan that he's calling the "Ragnar Danneskjold project."
As an investor, I regularly receive complex legal notices petitioning me to join a class action lawsuit against some company. I trash them. Shorn of the typical incomprehensible legalese, this is the first notice I've ever seen that I can comprehend. It's in English. And all I have to do is collect my loot.I would not work to return one cent of antitrust payout to Microsoft. Why? Because why should I or anyone else defend Microsoft any more than it defends itself.
The heading reads, "Consumers and Businessmen May Claim Microsoft Settlement Benefits."
The proposed settlement arises from allegations that Microsoft violated New York antitrust and unfair competition laws. Consumers who acquired certain Microsoft products for use in New York over the past TWELVE years are eligible to collect an estimated $350 million. No proof of purchase required.
[W]e can fight this. Class Members can write to the court if they do not like the settlement. Of course, the court anticipates exactly the opposite of what we will write, as to what is fair.
One can also ask the Court for permission to speak at a "Fairness Hearing." I intend to ask.
This is an opportunity for Objectivists to affect favorably an outcome of the continued unjust persecution of Microsoft. Since there are seventeen states involved, there are many venues for us to participate. Even those living elsewhere might participate through a proxy, if you have a willing friend or relative who qualifies for an award.
Note: vouchers may be donated to a charity. If enough of us put in claims worth up to $60 and donate our vouchers to ARI, then ARI can take the accumulated vouchers--blood money, actually--up to a total of $10,000, and donate them to Microsoft--publicly.
Remember the "Freedom to Innovate" network--home of Microsoft's in-house argument against the myriad of antitrust cases brought against it. I just visited there about ten minuets ago and on a list of Microsoft's "Policy Priorities" I found cyber security, privacy, combating spam, intellectual property, spyware, and children's online safety. No mention of antitrust reform (or even the R&D tax credit for that matter).
Then I looked up latest statement on an antitrust case that was linked from the "Freedom to Innovate" website's main page. This antirust ruling, issued in South Korea, seeks to compel Microsoft to produce two new versions of Windows. Microsoft's response? Microsoft promised it would fight the charges, saying "[This] is one step in a long legal process, and we believe the facts will show that Microsoft's actions have respected Korean law."
Respected Korean law? The real problem with antirust rests not in "respecting" Korean, European, or American laws, the problem rests with these laws themselves for punishing businessmen for the crime of trying to make a better product. On this front, Microsoft has utterly abandoned the battle and I do not support returning to them one dime that was expropriated by laws that they themselves refuse to challenge.
As an alternative, I'd much rather see the money go to put Gary Hull, Tom Bowden, Richard Salsman and John Ridpath's book the Abolition of Antirust in law libraries across America. Let blood money from antitrust settlements go to help real egoists fight to repeal antirust law rather then return it utterly clueless businessmen who wouldn't even know what to do with your gift when you gave it back to them.
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Green in the head
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 8:29 AM
Another environmentalist is warning us that the world may soon end.
Kenneth Deffeyes believes the world passed a very important landmark, with very little notice, on Dec. 16, 2005. The article goes on to describe the Deffeyes’ “peak oil” thesis, claiming that civilization has "driven off the cliff," and that "we're in for a hard landing." Yeah, the same way we drove off the cliff and landed hard with whale oil.
On that day, he said, the world's residents finished off the first half of the world's oil and started in on the second. Price volatility will be the norm, and if some big changes aren't made, famine, pestilence, war and death are on the way.
Deffeyes, who presented his ideas during a talk Tuesday night at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is a Princeton University professor emeritus and author of "Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak" and "Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage."
The idea comes from the work of M. King Hubbert, who predicted in 1956 that the amount of oil produced in the United States would peak in 1970, when half of the country's oil had been recovered, then start its decline. [Stefan Milkowski, Daily News Miner]
It's amazing how environmentalists exploit ignorance of the basic laws of economics in order to sell their tales of gloom and doom. For example, it’s utterly impossible for the world to run out of oil. Let me explain.
When you have a good like oil, price signals its value. If oil is truly becoming scare, speculators can forecast a rise in future prices. These speculators start to store oil for that future day when they can sell it for more than what they bought it for.
That speculation causes oil prices to rise and any rise in price is met with rationing (that is, one finds ways to get by with less), and the search for alternatives (that is, one tries to find alternatives to oil itself). Man will not sit by and starve when it can build nuclear or hydro plants to serve its energy needs—that is if man still believes he has a right to exist in the face of the environmentalist's claims that he is a despoiler nature.
Notice though that the environmentalists never talk about the market's ability to ration goods though price or the power of price to produce substitutes. The market is freedom and it allows for people to provide for their material needs, yet according the environmentalist, it is the market itself that exploits the earth and savages the intrinsic value of nature.
That's why in my book, there's no such thing as a pro-human environmentalist. If there was, they would immediately become capitalists, fight for property rights and support man’s right to life his life for his own stake.
Yes, it is that simple, but as we all know, its not going to happen anytime soon. The egoism question strikes again.
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Enshrining "need" as a virtue
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 8:04 AM
You have to love the ability of antitrust regulators to find the "abuse of market power" almost anywhere. This report is from Europe:
The European Union closed a long-standing antitrust dispute with England's Premier League on Wednesday, forcing one the of richest leagues in the world to stop selling the rights to its live soccer matches exclusively to one TV channel. But why do this? The answer rests below.
"The solution we have reached will benefit football fans while allowing the Premier League to maintain its timetable for the sale of its rights," said EU Antitrust Commissioner Neelie Kroes, after the EU executive finalized the deal between both sides.
Under the agreement, live TV rights will be sold in six balanced packages with no one bidder being allowed to buy them all.
British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC -- a pay channel owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch -- has held the exclusive rights to the richest broadcast contract in European sport for the past 13 years. The satellite broadcaster dominates Britain's pay-TV market with close to 8 million subscribers. Ah, NTL "needed" it-in fact, it "needs" even more.
Kroes's office said the new commitments made until the end of the 2012-2013 season "will increase the availability of media rights, and improve the prospect of competition in providing services to consumers."
Packages will be sold to the highest standalone bidder for each package.
The agreement will allow the Premier League to prepare its bidding process for rights as of 2007. It will be monitored by a trustee named by the Commission.
"The Commission could impose a fine amounting to 10 percent of FA Premier League's total worldwide turnover if it breaks its commitments," the statement from Kroes's office said.
BSkyB's nearest rival, cable operator NTL Inc., has already said the deal does not go far enough to deliver a level playing field and said the EU head office had ignored the "pubs and clubs" market which it said needed a critical mass of at least half of all matches to be economically viable.
So here we have a corporation enshrining its need as a moral claim upon all its competitors, yet how much do you want to bet that Rupert Murdoch and his British Sky Broadcasting Group oppose antitrust as such? I doubt I could even get one taker.
Let's face it, egoism is a radical position, even among billionaires.
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:: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 ::
The Intellectual Activist and the theory/practice split
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 9:53 PM
I wonder if the Intellectual Activist has fallen into the classic theory/practice split, but is doing so with an Objectivish twist. Let me explain my (speculative) theory.
OK, so there's this thing called Objectivism that has all these principles we agree with, but there's also the world of present-day politics that we must face. You're a talented and thoughtful Objectivist writer. So what do you do?
You could make Objectivist arguments all the time and point out how corrupt the culture is ad nauseum, but that can get tiresome, it keeps you on the fringes and limits your audience.
What if instead you highlighted the virtues of contemporary figures and in doing so, you slowly started to see your influence expand. Under this program, the misintegrator serves you better than the disintegrator, because he gives you something positive to latch on to when talking to the general public. Sure, the misintegrator may have his flawed premises, but deep down he fights for you, ala Wakeland’s portrayal of Bush.
Who then becomes your biggest enemy? It's those dogmatic Objectivist naysayers with their pessimistic outlooks who are the real problem--they don't understand the picture, they are dishonest in falling to recognize your hero's virtues, and they hate misintegrators with a passion because they are the ones who steal their glory.
Somewhere, you have to take a stand. You have to choose between your hero and the integrated philosophy. If you honestly believe your philosophy works in the first place, you choose it. Defending it becomes your passion.
Yet if you are unsure if your philosophy really works, even if your doubt is subtle, such as how you use it to bridge the gap between the is and the ought with people who have a good sense of life, but hold mixed premises, you have to start avoiding your philosophy. After all, saying the US should unblinkingly slaughter its enemies freaks people out. You instead choose to identify with your misintergrating hero, and the nascent philosophic movement loses one of its heroes.
Now the philosophy you say you hold can't lose out explicitly, because that too has its price, but at minimum, your focus is changed. You bite at your critics and write articles about the "virtue of persistence" instead of the virtue of rationality, because like Boxer in Animal Farm, if we keep trying hard enough, even a problematic philosophy such as neo-conservatism can be made to work if you appeal to the virtues of its adherents.
Is this the case with TIA? Obviously I have my suspicions--enough to publish this post, even though the psychology is utterly speculative at best. Nevertheless, I think it is strong enough a theory to post for commentary.
Update: Cut out the line "living a tight existence and every dollar you bring in counts" from the 2nd paragraph. I decided that's too speculative to assign to my scenario, even though the scenario itself is speculative.
I'm trying to understand why TIA is taking its position--why, in the Wakeland post, it makes me and other Objectivists into the enemy. In thinking it over, I'm coming to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter. Most important is how it argues its position intellectually. The "why" is their problem, not mine.
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Thinking through the "Forward Strategy of Freedom"
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 3:32 PM
Jennifer Snow is defending Jack Wakeland's premise:
Mr. Wakeland's support of Bush's "Forward Strategy of Freedom", in my understanding, is based on the fact that it means Bush has recognized two truths: that the real battle here is an ideological one, and that we have to stick with it until we win. While Bush hasn't been fantastic about finding and applying the correct strategies to realize either of these goals, he HAS been consistent in maintaining that there is an ideological battle and that we have to stick with it. In that respect, his floundering efforts deserve our support.I disagree with Ms. Snow's assessment here (as well as other parts of her larger argument). You cannot have the president cast Islam as the religion of peace and then say he understands the ideological battle. Nor is there anything in the Forward Strategy of Freedom that casts this battle in the terms it deserves to be cast; that is, to pit reason and egoism against mysticism and barbarity. To do that, the Forward Strategy of Freedom would have to embrace secularism and individual rights in favor of literal democracy, and it doesn't. I think the Afghani and Iraqi constitutions prove my point.
At root, I think the Forward Strategy of Freedom is the "White Man's Burdon" redressed in American clothes. As I read it, the Forward Strategy of Freedom is saying little more than if we give the uncivilized barbarians of the world democracies, hopefully they won't try to kill us anymore.
Yet consider the fact that the key Forward Strategy of Freedom claim that "democracies" don't kill their neighbors rang false on the news we heard just this week. Notice how utterly stunned President Bush seemed upon learning that an Afghani court was going to kill one of its citizens for the crime of apostasy. According to Ayn Rand, a nation that is willing to murder its own people is also willing to murder you just as fast, yet here we have a US created democracy tottering on the verge of mystically-inspired. So much for "freedom" or a legitimate strategy to protect American lives.
Yet despite the Forward Strategy of Freedom plainly flawed premise, it nevertheless commits the US to fight to bring democracy to the middle east--democracies that vote themselves into Islamic theocracies and let the Sharia guide them. That is a flawed vision if I ever saw one--one that Objectivists should attack with full force.
Update: I forgot to mention this in the haste to get outside and enjoy a nice spring day--Snow's other assessment against my position is that, well, Bush is the best we got, so I should simply cheer up and support his "tentative first steps in the right direction."
No thanks. If Bush is tentative about defending my life, I’d rather call him (and the culture that elected him) on the substantive, philosophic problem I have with such a position rather than fake a happy face.
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Muslim censorship effort targets NYU Objectivists II
Posted by Edward Cline at 2:53 PM
Here's my letter to the NYU president on NYU's free speech debacle:
Dear Mr. Sexton:
I have just now received news of your institution's surrender to the Islamic
jihadists in this country, by refusing to allow a student group, the NYU
Objectivist Club, to host a panel discussion on "Free Speech and the Danish
Cartoons." Further, your school's action appears to be in direct violation of
its own "free speech" policy.
I am the author of "Sparrowhawk," a series of novels set in England and
Virginia in the years preceding the American Revolution. That Revoltution
truly began in 1765, when courageous colonial editors broadcast Patrick
Henry's Stamp Act Resolves, passed in the Virginia General Assembly in May
of that year, and served to unite the colonies for the first time to resist
and protest Crown tyranny. In publishing those Resolves, the editors risked
prosecution, imprisonment, and even death by the Crown for treason and
blasphemous libel. They saw the truth and broadcast it, nevertheless.
One of the little known objections to Crown tyranny was the proposed
establishment of a state church in the colonies, which all American
colonists would be taxed to support, regardless of their creed or lack of
one. What you have surrendered to is something worse: a theocracy that
promises death or enslavement for not submitting to it.
Obviously, you and your administration are not of the same caliber.
I urge you to rescind the prohibition of that event and so reinstate not
only the reputation of New York University, as well as your own, but the
inviolability of the First Amendment and free minds.
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The capitalist's movie critic
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 11:53 AM
It seems my "V for Vendetta" movie review has sparked a rather lengthy discussion thread at Objectivism Online. Of those critical of my review, their disagreement seems to stem from my claim that "V" supported anarchy, while others seem to disagree with my attempt to judge a work of art according to objective standards.
When I write movie or art reviews for CAC's weblog, it's usually because I am struck by an explicit political or ethical claim (or in the case of Crash, an epistemological claim). After all, this organization's mission is argue for Ayn Rand's political and ethical philosophy. Accordingly, I seek reasons to talk about these principles to a wide audience.
For example, when I reviewed Saving Private Ryan, I was struck by its altruistic portrayal of a solider who dies in the name of those who do not deserve it. As a movie that sought to honor WWII soliders though its portrayal, Saving Private Ryan's naturalistic depiction of the Normandy invasion excised a key motive that would explain why these soldiers risked their lives to defeat America's enemies. Saving Private Ryan excised self-interest, removing it as a motive of its heroes, and instead using it to describe the motive of the movie's coward--a man who betrays his comrades and hides in battle, lest he be killed by the enemy.
As such, I deeply disagreed with Saving Private Ryan's theme and I made my disagreement public, especially after all the praise that was heaped upon the film for its portrayal of the life of a solider.
Much was the same with my review of Jarhead, which unlike Saving Private Ryan did not hide its contempt for the men in our military. I was struck with how so many of my fellow Marine veterans were responding favorably to a movie that portrayed Marines as whiny, sexually frustrated, whim-worshiping wimps. Hence, you have my review of Jarhead, which I am proud to say was published by both Leatherneck Magazine and the Marine Corps Gazette.
Now when it comes to my review of "V," I continue to stand by my article without modification. "V" had plenty to fight against, but his character was never able to articulate what he ought to be to fighting for, unless raw revenge has now replaced justice as a worthy goal. Enough said.
Yet I think it is interesting to note that one of the critics of my criticism referred to my position as the "orthodox Objectivist" view (as if that is a bad thing). Yes, Objectivism is my tool for evaluating art, including an artwork's moral and political claims. Does that mean I shouldn't fault artwork that portrays bad premises, even if it is masterfully produced? Of course not. While I enjoy contemplating art for its own sake, I also have my values and I fight for them. Yes, "V" had stylistic elements that were interesting to me, but it also offended my moral code, and since the movie has been praised for its morality, it became fair game for my brand of criticism.
Unfortunately, there's a lot to examine in art that the criticism I write for my audience here does not explore. I'll give you one example: There are several movies that I think are appalling thematically, and yet I was drawn to them nevertheless, such as Titanic.
Why could I find someting to like in an awful film like Titanic? Simple. I liked the soundtrack despite the movie. So then, the question in my mind is what is the role of music in communicating a film's message, and can a soundtrack contradict and surpass the film it seeks to highlight? Interesting, but not a good topic for debate on the weblog of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism.
Accordingly, I stick to my focus. Should you not see "V" based on my review here? That obviously depends on you. If I were you, I'd be intrigued to see the movie simply on the grounds that there have been arguments both for and against it, and as a work of art, it is enjoyable to contemplate these things for one's self and arrive at one's own critical evaluation.
At the same time, if you tire of bad premises in art and prefer art that is uplifting, my review would serve to warn you away from a film that will likely leave you empty and uninspired.
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Muslim censorship effort targets NYU Objectivists
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 8:49 AM
A group called the "Muslim Action Committee" has launched an internet campaign to prevent the New York University Objectivist Club from showing the cartoons behind the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy at the panel discussion it is hosting tonight. Apparently, this group’s efforts have succeeded as the Objectivist Club’s event has been closed to the general public and limited to an audience of no more than 150 students.
Accordingly, I have written the following letter to John Sexton [email@example.com], the president of NYU:
Dear President Sexton:Update: The "Muslim Action Committee" allows public comments on their website, so I urge you to let them know what you think of their attempt to squelch free speech.
I am deeply dismayed by the New York University's decision to close a student organization’s discussion of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy to the general public and severely limit the number of students who may attend the event.
Realize what is taking place at a prestigious American intellectual institution under your watch. A university is a realm of ideas, yet the ideas examining the philosophic foundation of free speech rights as they relate to an important international controversy are being squelched in order to appease the sensitivities of those who disagree with the material being discussed. Rather than defend free speech, the university is attacking the very principles that allow it to exist and taking a position that severely curtails its ability to fulfill its mission.
One wonders what comes next. Will certain art be forbidden, because it offends the sensibilities of its critics? Will unpopular political views be taken off the table as well?
On the eve of the war in Iraq, I took part in a contentious debate over US policy with a peace studies professor at George Mason University, and there, GMU President Alan Merten personally thanked me, saying that such a debate "is the reason we have universities." Yet NYU's seeming position is to hold that the opposite as true, and that proponents of controversial ideas should check their minds at the door.
I call upon you to correct the mistakes that your university is making in falling to defend free speech rights. If not, I will simply do everything within my power to highlight your failure to act as the cowardly failure it would be.
The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism
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:: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 ::
Edward Cline to appear on KOA 850 radio in Denver
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 3:58 PM
Edward Cline's essay "Reality catches up with art" caught the attention of the Mike Rosen Show, KOA 850 in Denver, and Cline has subsequently been invited to appear on it this coming Wednesday the 29th, from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Time.
The show can be listened to over the internet (go to 850KOA.com for details).
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Announcing the Second Carnival of the Objectivists!
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 2:56 PM
After the stunning success of the Inaugural Carnival of the Objectivists, I plan to host another carnival this Saturday, April 1st. As before, I’ll scour the web for good Objectivist commentary, so if you have recommendations, be sure to send them on in.
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:: Monday, March 27, 2006 ::
Jack Wakeland's Treason (Part II)
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 12:00 PM
Part II: Conviction
My disagreement and anger toward Jack Wakeland and The Intellectual Activist rests upon two points in Wakeland's article "Taking Stock after a Defeat in the War on Terrorism." First is Wakeland's claim that Objectivists who argue that the war is being half-fought are "worse than factually false." Second is the claim that these Objectivists, by holding their estimate, "are doing the enemy's work."
The meaning of Wakeland's statements is absolutely clear; he is saying that certain Objectivists are dishonest traitors. The change is a serious, deliberate moral attack. It is also a pile of garbage.
In order to maintain his position, Wakeland must prove that the war is being "fully fought." Why? Because an Objectivist doesn't fight anything less. Two-thirds of a "fully fought" war is unacceptable. Nine-tenths of a "fully fought" war is unacceptable. If an enemy physically attacks you, you fight him until he is defeated and the threat to your life is removed.
A powerful illustration of this principle is Leonard Peikoff's landmark argument that the US should have attacked and subdued Iran when its Islamic government issued its infamous fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie and his publishers. In his thesis, Peikoff argues that by targeting an author for murder because he published ideas it disagrees with, Iran was waging war upon reason itself. According to Peikoff, America should have struck back in self-defense and forced Iran to retract its fatwa.
Peikoff did not call upon the US to avail itself of the UN, nor did Peikoff call upon the US to bring freedom to Iran. He argued that the government's job is simply to remove a threat to its citizens; no more, and no less. To do this, Peikoff was willing to commit an entire nation to fight for the rights of one single man because not to fight would have been to surrender a key principle of all our existences to a barbarous enemy.
Yet America did choose surrender, not explicitly, but by its appalling and cowardly failure to act in the face of a substantive threat. When the enemy deserved bombs, America gave him sanctions and then proceeded to forget the whole affair. This failure, coupled with all the other appeasements of Islam over the years, served to only to embolden the jihadists and make them detest us all the more.
Then came September 11th, the concrete no one could escape--or so we hoped. The only just answer to September 11th would have been a brutal, ruthless retaliation of the kind that would have left the enemy in stunned shock over our power to crush him and his cause; the kind of response that would cause a mother to beg her son never to incur the wrath of the United States, lest he, she, and everyone else they know be destroyed.
That kind of retaliation would have required an egoist, a man who is so proud of his life and so jealously protective of his rights that it would be inconceivable for him to do anything less than defeat those who would make themselves his destroyer. As we all know, our culture has yet to generate sufficient numbers of these men to elect one of them to a position of governmental power. Objectivists are on the outside looking in, and by definition, the battle that our government wages for our rights and our freedom is being less than fully fought.
Why is this? Because we first need to convince more people of the truth of Objectivism--because the first front in any war is philosophic. In this regard, President Bush does not compare to Washington, Lincoln, or even Roosevelt, let alone an Objectivist. Washington endured starvation at Valley Forge rather than forfeit the American revolution. Lincoln refused to allow the union to be dissolved, even though it took him years of losses before he could find a commander capable of achieving victory. Roosevelt firebombed cities and developed atomic weapons rather than yield to his enemies. Even John F. Kennedy was willing to risk war with the Soviet Union rather then let it place nuclear weapons in Cuba.
In contrast, we find a president who can't even define who the enemy is, let alone develop a cogent strategy for subduing him. After all, how long did President Bush define our enemy by his tactics, rather than by his ideology? How is it that we are mired in Iraq, while Bin Laden still lives and Iran develops nuclear weapons? Rather than simply declare that the US has a right to destroy its enemies, Bush has positioned US policy as the "forward strategy of freedom," that is, a policy that mandates that the US bring freedom to the non-free world in order to keep it from killing us.
That's an awfully generous policy to sacrifice American lives to, and it's one that nearly borders upon the "white man's burden" in its reasoning. Yet the Wakeland and TIA position--the position of new intellectuals--is that the forward strategy of freedom is materially effective, rather than materially defective. Sure, Wakeland and TIA acknowledge that we face our setbacks in the war, including many philosophic failures, but they also hold that the American sense of life prevails and that President Bush will lead us to our inevitable victory.
Victory for an Objectivist is not solely measured by the progress of one particular battle in one particular Iraqi hellhole (as TIA's style of reporting so often chronicles in all its myopic details). It is measured by the nation's willingness to recognize that it has a right to exist for its own sake, and that right alone gives it license to defeat those who threaten it. President Bush is useless in this fight--as he is useless in our fight. He cannot win it because he lacks the requisite intellectual ammunition. And this is where John Lewis gets it right when he describes the contrast between Objectivism and President Bush's neo-conservative philosophy:
Objectivism recognizes that the meaning of an idea is the facts it refers to in reality. A value is a fact that is understood in relation to human life. "A value," said Ayn Rand, "is that which one acts to gain and/or keep"--it is not an idea divorced from action. For example, men are free when the government protects their rights; this is what freedom means. Freedom is a value because the facts of man's nature will not allow him to live under coercion. I agree, yet according to the logic of Wakeland and TIA, Lewis is nevertheless "worse than factually false" and is "doing the enemy's work."
But this view of values contrasts utterly with the views of the neoconservative team behind Mr. Bush. They see values as ideas from a higher reality, whether religious or secular, and then applied imperfectly to this world. This is Platonism, so called after the philosopher Plato, who implanted it into western thought. "Freedom" becomes an idea from intuition, or a dictate of the almighty, that can be applied only imperfectly in the real world. This is not necessarily religious faith, but also "common sense"--stuff that all of us just know, as I was once told by a conservative atheist.
The chasm is not between their values and their actions to preserve them, but rather between their values and reality.
As I discussed in Part I, Wakeland claims President Bush would never knowingly leave Americans exposed, yet he forgets the specious means by which the president arrives at what he does know. Seemingly counting on the President's sense of life alone, Wakeland and TIA want to cut it both ways, saying that he can achieve victory even though he is weak. Rather than repeat the call for an egoistic war, they instead support President Bush's forward strategy of freedom, even though it is based upon defective reasoning, even though it is costly in terms of life and treasure, and even though it is unnecessary, since at this stage of the game, all the jihad deserves is force alone. Let the Islamic world lift itself out of its self-inflicted mire of superstition and barbarity; we have our own lives and our own quest for freedom to attend to.
But that's not TIA's stand. In fact, by staking out the position that they have adopted and labeling those Objectivists who disagree with them as dishonest, I think they are signaling something I find very troubling to contemplate. I think TIA is signaling that it is not comfortable with egoism.
If TIA was comfortable with egoism, they would not care one way or another for President Bush, but they would care a lot about the culture that elected him and the many moral mistakes it is making. They would see that the war is not being fully fought and they would seek out ways to explain why. Rather than seemingly forgive neo-conservatives for their faults, they would make these faults the focus of their criticism. After all, an Objectivist's goal is not to make friends with neo-conservatives--his goal is to replace them. That mission requires consistent advocates for an Objectivist moral renaissance who are not ashamed to attack altruism or say that a mixed premise is not enough--not when it comes to the government's role in protecting their (and our) lives.
And notice that this debate isn't about the '04 election or who Objectivists decided to vote for. That debate was worth whatever the odds were that Objectivist votes could swing the election, which was somewhere between zero and nill.
This debate is about something far, far larger--it is about how Objectivists interpret reality, fight for their freedom, and publicly position their views to an idea-starved world. Falling to identify an opponent for who he is and failing to understand a mixed premise for the problem it presents does not serve to replace the status quo with Objectivism. Bold statements of fundamental truths do.
There is no universe in which George W. Bush is a hero for the way he fights the war--not when we have been presented with the image of John Galt. And as I alluded to before, if our culture can't produce enough rational men to elect someone deserving to political office, than that's the fight for our lives that we need to wage.
In short, we need the kind of intellectual activists that the TIA name suggests. That is the battle that I think TIA is yielding, and that's why I charge Wakeland with "treason" toward me and other Objectivists. Wakeland and TIA are doing something deeply wrong and they are blaming their critics for their own faulty reasoning. My view: former mentors or not, they are guilty as charged.
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:: Friday, March 24, 2006 ::
Not if that's a ham sandwich . . .
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 2:15 PM
Michelle Malkin has some pretty funny video of fizzled anti-war march here in DC. The best moment is when Malkin talks to a protestor clad in a orange jumpsuit stating how the march experience has helped him to identify with the Guantanamo Bay detainees while munching on a sandwich.
The other goodie is when Malkin prompts Cindy Sheehan’s to give a stream-of-consciousness speech attempting to justify her failure to secure a headstone for her son (NB: as a member of the Armed Forces, Sheehan’s son rates a headstone provided by the government free-of-charge).
Nothing philosophic--but amusing to watch nevertheless.
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Jack Wakeland's Treason
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 7:00 AM
Part 1: The Indictment
There is an issue that has been percolating for too long for it not to be explicitly addressed. About a month ago I blogged about an HBL post that I wrote criticizing what I saw as some Objectivist's overly positive estimate of the Bush administration. In my blog entry I wrote:
I stand with [J]ohn Lewis on his point that Bush is not about advancing individual rights domestically or defending America internationally.While I aimed to respond in a general sense to a view I had observed some Objectivists hold, I had not yet read the explicit statement of the pro-Bush position. This was a mistake on my part, because according to the logic of the statement and its author, I am guilty of betraying America.
The effect of the war has been worse then had it not been fought at all. America is not more secure as a result of Bush's expeditionary campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan when the jihad still survives, when both nations can vote themselves into Islamic republics and when Iran--the fountainhead of Islam and America's key enemy--remains unchecked.
Objectivists who are sympathetic to Bush argue that he represents both the best and the worst in the "honest American" while his cowboy demeanor depicts the vibrant American spirit. If only. The more realistic appraisal is that that Bush's cowboy persona runs only skin-deep, while his neo-conservatism (a literal cross of both liberalism and religion) has advanced some of the worst ideas to be offered in American politics since the rise of the New Left.
Bush spent months begging the UN for permission for the US to protect its interests, only to couch that interest in sacrificial language. Bush's "Ownership Society" died stillborn for want of a moral argument. The "Forward Defense of Freedom" assumed that the liberty-hating people of the world nevertheless desire freedom and that it is for America to bring it to them. The Bush administration and the Republican congress can't even find the sauce to abolish the NEA, let alone correct any substantive spending injustice--or prevent the rise of new ones. And don't even ask me about antitrust or fundamental tax reform under Bush.
All the while, Bush has been energizing the wing of the Republican party that seeks to establish theocracy in America. The White House doesn't call an Objectivist when it has a problem--it calls an evangelical preacher. The Bush presidency is a disaster.
People animated by a revolutionary philosophy such as Objectivism ought to be highlighting these facts and explaining the principles that drive them. This debate goes far beyond the question of which political party can do a worse job--it's a question of what Objectivists have to say about the current state of the world and how we will publicly present our antidote to today's unabated orgy of irrationality and sacrifice.
Back in early February, Jack Wakeland of The Intellectual Activist wrote an article titled "Taking Stock after a Defeat in the War on Terrorism." In his article, Wakeland writes:
[O]ver the past four years I have seen quite a few Objectivists--including many of our most talented and accomplished intellectuals--sitting on the edges of their seats, waiting for disaster. Some of them expect the evil premises of our post-Kantian culture to manifest themselves in a suicidal war policy. Some of them expect defeat to materialize at any moment on any front.Wakeland then proceeds to deliver a laundry list of the Bush administration's failures in prosecuting the war and after each failure, he repeats in mocking derision that "A half-battle is worse than none." Wakeland is not ridiculing the administration's defective philosophic reasoning as the cause of these failures--he is ridiculing Objectivists who are critical of the administration's prosecution of the war. According to Wakeland, the problem is not an administration that is providing bankrupt leadership, it is us poor, benighted Objectivists who fail to support the president. He cannot fathom why we do it.
In any mixture--regardless of the degree--of good premises and bad, some expect the bad to win. "A half-battle is worse than none," Ayn Rand observed, "It does not end in mere defeat--it helps and hastens the victory of your enemies." Some misuse that maxim and conclude that any inconsistency in war policy will, therefore, lead a speedy and total defeat.
Some see the combination of the external pressure of Islam and our nation's own Christian premises and conclude that America will descend into theocracy--in five or ten or twenty years. With Olympian detachment, this unhappy band points to every setback as evidence of impending defeat.
How can any man who understands that America is an irreplaceable institution--a living repository of the best that man's mind has ever produced--how can he see defeat in the opening years of so small a fight? How can he sell his own civilization so cheaply?Wakeland continues:
To say that George Bush's efforts at national defense are worse than nothing--something I hear way too often from Objectivists--is worse than factually false. If you follow the implications of this falsehood to claim that America is losing, you are doing our enemy's work.Let's make sure we are all on the same page: if I do the enemy's work, I am guilty of treason. So what then constitutes treason in the world of Jack Wakeland and The Intellectual Activist? Saying that Bush is weak and calling for principled strength as an alternative? Saying that America's problems springs from a corrupt and inconsistent philosophy that undercuts its very strengths and virtues and working to communicate a rational alternative? If this be treason, make the most of it.
Does Wakeland, a man who seems to call upon every arcane and concrete-bound source he can find to justify his reporting, know that Iran seeks nuclear weapons? Does he know that Pakistan already has them? Does he know that Saudi Arabia provides spiritual and material support to jihadists? Does he recall the pressure the US placed upon Israel to exercise "restraint" when dealing with the jihadits who seek its destruction? Did he see the reports from Madrid and London highlighting the ability of Al Qaeda to slaughter innocents? Does he recognize the unabated self-censorship American newspapers have engaged in when faced with the decision to publish cartoon images that offend Muslims?
Perhaps Wakeland recognizes all these points. I have no personal knowledge of his thinking or lack thereof. Yet where I and other Objectivists see the appalling failure to think and act in defense of American rights, Wakeland finds heroism. He writes glowingly of President Bush:
When American was attacked, Mr. Bush knew that the best defense was a strong offense. Which of our past presidents would have had the courage to act on that knowledge--the moral courage to kill in defense of a supreme value? No more than two of the past four presidents--Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, or Carter--would have kept fighting when 54% of the population didn't approve; when hundreds of our nation's young men were sent home in body bags.Claiming a leader is "Clearly Better Than Carter" is not a serious argument in defense of anything. The current Bush administration's weakness is not excused by the failures of previous presidential administrations.
As president, George Bush enjoys sweeping powers to shape foreign policy, including the power to set the terms of the debate by framing who are America's allies and who are its enemies. President Bush could have chosen to target all of militant Islam--including its intellectual and spiritual founts--as early as 8:46:40 AM on September 11, 2001, give or take a few seconds for him to adequately think things through. President Bush could have chosen to act upon his "axis of evil" speech, as well as his claim that the world either stands with America, or it stands with the terrorists. Instead of waging a half-hearted and piecemeal war, President Bush could have chosen to crush the jihad and fight to make America secure.
Instead, the president chose to praise the faith and raison d'etre of the enemy as religion of peace, obscuring the fundamental cause of the conflict. The president chose to justify America's motive for waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan as the altruistic desire to bring freedom to tyrannical backwaters rather than protect American security against a naked threat. And he and his administration have chosen not to kill the enemy in the numbers necessary to defeat him, instead favoring a strategy perpetual war over one of swift victory. Wakeland's defense of such failures is obnoxious, yet he still takes one last stab at the anti-administration Objectivists.
Before rejecting Mr. Bush as inadequate to be the man responsible for the defense of our country, our way of life, and our very bodies, we should understand that his vices are the vices typical of an honest American and his virtues are the virtues typical of an honest American. Reluctant to use ideas and to think long range unless pressed by adversity, George Bush is not our intellectual equal, not fully the kind of man we want to lead us into war. But he is like most good Americans. He will never knowingly give up the battle.What is Wakeland talking about? Bush has already given up the battle. It has been almost five years since September 11th. If the enemy we fight is as small as Wakeland claims, why do the jihadists still draw air? And if an American city is leveled from an Iranian nuclear attack, would anyone ever be able take comfort in Jack Wakeland' claim that the America's failure to defeat the jihad was the product of President Bush's unknowing mind? While there is zero possibility of the jihadists establishing a worldwide Caliphate, they can certainly work to destroy an American city or two on their way down. After all, the jihadists literally worship death. As such, any success the jihadists enjoy is because we give to to them.
Ultimately, it is Wakeland who has surrendered--to a crop of evangelical Christians and neo-conservatives. In order to contort the state of the union so as to defend his hero, Wakeland must surrender the real battle against the litany of irrational ideas that reject self-interest and abandon the responsibility of the government to serve as the uncompromising protector of the American people. Rather than recognize that egoistic principles are being sacrificed by an administration that values compassion over ruthlessness in battle, Wakeland has instead slandered Objectivists who hold the administration in account for the philosophy it adheres to and the policies it enacts.
Why Wakeland takes his stand is beyond me, for one can't expect to defeat altruism by glad-handing its practitioners. I hold that in writing his article, Wakeland has turned Benedict Arnold against Objectivism's real freedom-fighters. And sadly, that such a misguided article was ever published signals the steep decline of The Intellectual Activist as a tool in the Objectivist arsenal. The Intellectual Activist once was a profound asset in understanding how ideas drive history and how to understand a mixed premise for what it is. When it prints screeds like Wakeland's, I find it hard to be positive about what drives it now.
I know one thing though: no one intones that I'm a "traitor" and gets away with it.
Monday: Part II: The Conviction
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:: Thursday, March 23, 2006 ::
$50K to Fight for Freedom
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 9:48 AM
Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism has the power to change the world. From her groundbreaking explanation of the power of the human mind to discern reality, to her moral justification for individualism and capitalism, to her defiant exultation of heroes, Ayn Rand presented mankind with a proud new vision of himself. This vision has inspired millions across the world, yet for Objectivism to truly change the course of history, those who are animated by Ayn Rand's vision must choose to carry on with the fight she first stated.
And to help carry on the Objectivist fight is precisely why I founded the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism. When first launched in 1998, it was because I believed that the advance of Objectivism required a group that was both intellectual and activist and that was uniquely dedicated to defending Ayn Rand's trader principle as the only legitimate basis for our social relationships. The Center's mission was thus defined as using Objectivism to present policymakers, the judiciary and the public analyses to assist in the identification and protection of the individual rights of the American people.
In the years since the Center's founding, it has repeatedly achieved groundbreaking results. Its advocates have appeared in the nation's newspapers, on radio and on TV, including economist Richard Salsman's appearance on NPR's Justice Talking and my own appearance on national broadcast television when I was a guest on ABC's Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. The Center's arguments in defense of Microsoft were included in the Department of Justice's "major comments" list during the Microsoft antitrust trial--the first time the Objectivist argument calling for the abolition of antitrust was given such consideration, and both times the Center held press conferences defending technology and industry and attacking the environmentalists on Earth Day, C-SPAN came to cover the event.
The Center's advocates have also fought for America's right to self-defense against Islamic jihadists. In one of my proudest moments, after I debated the Oxford-trained director of the peace studies program at George Mason University on the right of the US to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein, the university president who was in attendance commented that debates like the one I just participated in were "the reason we have universities." Earning that praise was an incredible victory, for it showed that our best efforts in representing our philosophy will earn us an audience--the first step in changing our culture for the better.
Yet unlike many groups that refuse to touch the controversial, not every principle the Center fights for wins on the first try. The Center stood with students who were refused admission to a public university because of the color of their skin, just as it stood up for the free-speech rights of businessmen as they were sued for "false advertising" because their company bought newspaper advertisements that defended the firm from the unjust smears of critics. When doctors were persecuted by antitrust regulators for attempting to bargain with giant, government-created HMO's, the Center was one of the only voices to stand up in their defense--even when their own medical associations refused to defend a doctor's right to profit form his own hard work.
Why fight for these unpopular causes? Because ideas and their consequences matter. Even if one doesn't secure an immediate victory, the first battle lays down the foundation for the next. And that is why I believe Objectivism's advocates must go to the realms where ideas are discussed and debated and profess objective truths about issues that are important to people's lives. If Objectivism is to have increased currency in our culture, its advocates must confront the enemies of reason and freedom with our answers to the questions of our time, even if Objectivist ideas are first met with skepticism. Remaining silent gains one nothing; only by being outspoken can one hope to gain converts.
And I hold that this organization rests upon a combination of ideas, skill and ambition that ought to be nurtured and supported. The Center fights the long fight--but to continue, we need your help. We need you to stand with the Center and help make it a success. We need you to help financially support our advocacy.
That is why I am launching the "$50K to Fight for Freedom" campaign. Fifty thousand dollars is what I believe it will take to re-energize this group and restore it to a full-fighting stance. Fifty thousand dollars is the amount of money the Center needs to be able to raise even more money for its projects, projects such as the Capitalist's Amicus Curiae program, our writing program, and a student leadership conference where the Center's experts can meet with the next generation of Objectivists and give them the benefit of our knowledge and experience.
And that is where you come in. I need you to give your financial backing to the Center--I cannot do it alone.
And if the Center cannot raise this $50K, it will be time to admit defeat and throw in the towel. This not a threat--it is a recognition of the reality that if we can't raise this small amount of money to conduct our projects, the Center simply does not enjoy the support necessary for it to succeed.
I never have liked fundraising letters that take desperate tones--they always sounded fake to me--but I must confront the fact that this organization has its back up against the wall. I hope you agree with me that it shouldn't--that the contributions the Center makes in the advance of Objectivism are valuable and that with even more support, the Center can achieve even loftier goals. Please, join me and make a contribution to the Center today.
PS: The future of your freedom literally rests in your hands. I ask that you act today and make a donation, however the amount, in support of the Center and its fight for a better tomorrow.
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:: Wednesday, March 22, 2006 ::
America's injustice to Sam Waksal
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 9:09 AM
This op-ed by John Lewis and me goes out to newspapers today:
Remember ImClone? This was the company founded by physician Sam Waksal, an immunologist who worked for years to develop a treatment for cancer. His company had one product: the drug "Erbitrux" which promised to extend the lives of thousands of desperately ill people. While Erbitrux has lived up to its pledge, the government has nevertheless destroyed the life of its creator.This case is one of those monstrosities that makes one want to punch the wall. For years there has been grumbling that the FDA is "risk adverse" and that its posture is to blame for untold deaths, while at the same time, the drugs that it does approve are later recalled. So who are these people to make massive life and death decisions for anyone, let alone a nation of 300 million people? Why do we allow it? It mystifies me.
First a recap. In 2001, Waksal was told by a government insider that the FDA was going to reject approval for his drug. The FDA's ruling would prohibit him, along with every doctor and every patient in America, from using Erbitrux-even in a last ditch effort to save a dying life.
The fallout from the FDA's decision would be ruinous, for Waksal, his family, his shareholders and for desperate patients, yet securities law required Waksal say nothing of the "inside knowledge" that the government had leaked to him. In the face of the impending castration of his company by regulatory fiat, Waksal was simply expected to sit silently and do nothing. Unsurprisingly, Waksal was unable to squelch himself.
So in June of 2003, Waksal was convicted of "insider trading" and sentenced to prison for seven years for the crime of telling his family to sell their stock. During his sentencing, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley told Waksal that the harm he caused was "truly incalculable." Since his conviction, Waksal has been forced to pay millions in restitution to his alleged victims.
Yet despite all the attention paid to his case, it is not Waksal, but FDA regulators who have blood on their hands. The FDA was the source of the leak that prompted Waksal to tell his family to sell. The FDA decision to forbid the use of Erbitrux destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars in shareholder wealth and led to Martha Stewart being sent to prison for the ridiculous crime of asserting her own innocence to federal investigators. All the while, the cancer patients who would have benefited from Erbitrux needlessly suffered and died--as many as one hundred people a day according to one estimate.
In the face of thousands of lives needlessly shortened, it still took the FDA over three years to reverse its original decision and permit doctors to use Erbitrux as a treatment for colon cancer, and only this month has the FDA expanded its permission for doctors to use the drug to treat cancer of the head and neck. All the while, the FDA has repeated the regulator's mantra that it has acted only in the "public interest."
But is the FDA's claim true? It is worth comparing the goals of Waksal-a scientist, businessman and creator--to the goals of a government regulator. Waksal's mission was to command nature by bringing life to people suffering from the most intractable disease to ravage the human body. He relied upon the independent judgments of doctors and patients that his product would help them. Success would mean that his cutting-edge drug prolonged the lives of dying patients and profits for Waksal and his investors.
In contrast, the government regulator's goal is not command nature, but to command men--men like Waksal. Why? Because we have vested regulators with the absolute power to substitute their judgment for our own in the name of protecting us from our choices. It matters not to the regulator whether a million people could have been saved during the wait for a new drug to meet their approval--any appraisal other than the regulator's simply does not factor.
In a system that respected freedom in medicine, a doctor and his patient would choose for themselves if the benefits of new medicines outweighed their risks. Yet under the current system of government controls, it is the regulator alone who decides who lives or dies. If one wants to see the naked exercise of power and the horrific price paid by innocent victims, it can be found in the saga of Erbitrux and its creator. It is not Sam Waskal, but government regulators who have caused "truly incalculable" damage to people's lives.
So at root, government regulation--the real cancer metastasizing in the brains of America-remains unexcised. Sam Waksal is confined to prison with over four more years to serve for the crimes of creation and of self-protection. All the while, Waksal's regulators sit comfortable in their government offices, secure in the knowledge that they will never be held to account for any of the lives they destroyed as a result of their deeds.
There is no drug to fight diseases such as the FDA--only better ideas can end the plague of a government that tells the terminally ill and their doctors what is good for them, and jails those who create the means they need to live. To avenge the injustice done to Dr. Waksal and the thousands of faceless victims of the Erbitrux fiasco, Americans must take back the power of the regulators and leave people free to live by their own minds.
And it makes me think that another article that deserves to be written would be on the legacy of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle--the novel that led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. The theme of Sinclair's ponderous tome is that life is a hospice and man in incompetent to cross the street (a character literally drowns in a street puddle) let alone make a decision about his life. According to Sinclair, only the group is omniscient, by virtue of the fact that it is a group.
When I read The Jungle about year ago, I was stunned just how ridiculous its portrayal was, yet I can’t count how many times--going all back to grade school--that I have seen this text referenced as the foundation of our modern era. Spare me. The ImClone debacle is the fruit of our era. If we value our lives, it would behoove us to fight against those who think they have the right to control us.
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:: Tuesday, March 21, 2006 ::
Is 'Islamophobia' justified? You bet it is.
Posted by Edward Cline at 10:27 AM
I would not blanch if I were ever charged with "Islamophobia." "Islam" means "submission," or subjugation to religious tyranny. The root Greek term phobia means fear. The American Heritage Dictionary and other American dictionaries cite two meanings of phobia: the first is a persistent, abnormal, or illogical fear of a specific thing; the second is a strong fear, dislike, or aversion. The Oxford English Dictionary defines phobia as "fear, horror, or aversion, especially of a morbid character."
I confess that, yes, I have a morbid fear of Islam, for I know its means and ends, which are incompatible with my existence as a free, thinking man.
Yes, I harbor a strong dislike of Islam, and of anyone who defends it, or submits to it, or dismisses it as nothing to worry about (Islamists, say their Western apologists, really don't mean to conquer anyone, they just want to "get along").
And, yes, I have a resolute aversion for Islam, because of what it requires of men, which is the abdication of their minds and selves, their abandonment of reason as a guide to the conduct of their lives, together with the substitution of a ghost's and others' dictates as their "moral" guide, and their consequent and necessary membership in the ranks of an enemy army.
In this context, "Islamophobia" can be defined as a fear of being under the rule of a theocracy -- any theocracy -- but especially a tyranny that promises death, dismemberment, or slavery for anyone not submitting to it. Any doubt about its means and ends ought to be dispelled by citing just one of the many verses from the Koran that prescribe the fate of non-believers in Allah to develop a healthy fear of Islam: "They (infidels) will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off."
So, call me an infidel. As a novelist and writer, I take words at their literal meanings. That verse is not a euphemistic proverb that could by any means be interpreted as an expression of a Muslim's personal "inner struggle" for faith or an overture of peaceful coexistence, as Islamic scholars would have us believe. What commentators frequently overlook is the fact that these same scholars do not contest the English translation of those verses. Ambiguity in language ought to trigger anyone's suspicions. Never mind those scholars' reassurances that it doesn't mean what it says; feet are feet and hands are hands. Clarity such as can be found in the Koran about the many unambiguous ways that infidels, Jews, and other "people of the book" should be treated ought to provoke revulsion and opposition. Or even a phobia.
The inspiration of this observation was a transcript of a debate televised on Al-Jazeera on July 26th, 2005 between Wafa Sultan, a psychiatrist and former Muslim living in hiding in Los Angeles, and Dr. Ahmad Bin Muhammad, an Algerian professor of religious politics and an Islamist. Sultan was just as acerbic in her condemnation of Islam as Oriana Fallaci, the outspoken Italian journalist, while Bin Muhammad was not only vitriolic but blind-sided by her articulate, courageous and uncompromising apostasy. President Bush ought to be required to spend a day with her at Camp David, and less time consulting with glad-handing conciliators Condi Rice and Karen Hughes. Perhaps he would emerge from that encounter shaken but with a more efficacious policy of dealing with this country's enemies.
A phobia, of course, is usually an irrational or unreasoning mental condition. Its object is typically spiders, snakes, mice, heights or some other mundane phenomena. But, it can be fixed on a very real nemesis and have a rational basis. In this instance, the nemesis is an ideology closed to reason, one that could destroy the countless values that constitute Western civilization and make life a living hell (provided one is not first killed or crucified) if one remembered what was lost, or at best a miasmatic existence of servitude to the anointed and privileged, of joyless drudgery and degrading ritual.
A thinking person will move from his phobia to an analysis of what it is he fears and a method for combating it. One graduates from that to a healthy contempt for Islam and all things mystical. One should become almost coldly dispassionate about it, allowing one to formulate arguments against it and for its antidote.
Still, if I am ever accused of being an "Islamophobe," I will reply with two thumbs up and my most charming smile.
Islam is not the only nemesis threatening civilization. Free men are faced today with a steady diminution of their freedom at the hands of their own political leadership, whether the anti-American Left, the religious, God-fearing Right, or a "moderate" mix of the two, as the scope of especially federal power exercised in all realms of life continues to expand and suffocate liberty. Free men are besieged on two fronts: at home, where the enemies of freedom wish to regulate it out of existence in the name of the "public good"; and from abroad, in the name of Allah. If one wants to understand why our political leadership will not or is unable to oppose Islamofascism, consider the mutuality of ends of both parties: the incremental erasure of freedom with subtle and not-so-subtle applications of force.
Homage and unthinking loyalty to multiculturalism, "tolerance," and political correctness save our political leadership and most of our intellectuals the soul-searching bother of examining the consequences of either their own actions and policies or those of this country's enemies. They are literally daft about "democracy," believing it gives them leave to turn productive Americans into a tax revenue generating dhimmi (or subjugated population, a term invented by historian Bat Ye'or as a consequence of her study of populations conquered by Islam).
The Democrats and Republicans are still beholden to Roosevelt's Brunswick stew of the "four freedoms," which have served as the unchallenged coda of our burgeoning welfare state, soaring national debt, and foreign policy. While the mentally myopic rant about the most irrelevant matters ("I have a right not to get breast cancer from second-hand smoke," "I have a right to wheelchair access to anywhere I want to go," "I have a right to sue a company for my stupid use of its product," "I have a right to affordable medical care," and so on), and legislators promise to do something about them, a predator lurks beyond our shores, loping impatiently in the darkening forests of Eurabia for a chance to strike us again. It settles for the time being for the gang rape of a Swedish woman or the murder of a Dutch filmmaker or the torture and murder of a French Jew. But its glance always returns to America, where its proxies, such as CAIR, are busy preparing the ground for conquest here, as well. Islam's appetite is boundless.
Belgium's population is approaching the fifty percent Muslim mark, and that country may be the first in Europe to succumb politically to Islamist conquest. This would be ironic justice, considering the bureaucratic dictatorship headquartered in Brussels that goes by the name of the European Union. Perhaps the name of this nascent regime will be revised to the "Eurabian Union." Doubtless those "freely elected" mullahs and imams will insist on it. But one can bet that when it happens, all of Europe's tolerant multiculturalists will be the first to feel the ax blades on their necks or the stilettos in their hearts, if they don't first emigrate to safer shores. Just one look at the state of Europe would be enough to give any sane man a phobia, and vow to never let it happen here.
But it is happening here under the politics of "progressive democracy," or incremental socialism and the "socialization" of a public school educated, dumbed down citizenry. Progressivism has been the stealthy nullification or expropriation of property rights and, most recently, the abridgement of freedom of speech. A citizenry "conditioned" to tolerate the legalized banditry of our government will tolerate or remain insensate to the seductive but deceptive blandishments of Islamism.
Consider the cluelessness of the colleagues of an American "peace worker" taken hostage months ago and recently found dead near a Baghdad rubbish heap, his body riddled with bullets and obviously tortured before being executed. What was their response to the news? Not outrage, or anger, or even a word of vengeance. Just humility and an incomprehension that can be traced to the scuttling of their rationality by altruism. "He was working for peace, why would anyone want to kill him?" Despite the tank car trains of Western blood spilled by Islamist killers over the past thirty years, altruism prevents them from grasping that the killers are not interested in peace and do not grant good-intentioned, unarmed peace workers any kind of immunity or dispensation. The beasts are jihadists, and American journalists, peace workers and soldiers are their interchangeable targets. "Good intentions" to jihadists are an invitation to conquest.
Speaking of good intentions, there is President Bush with his willingness to sacrifice American lives and wealth in a Wilsonian policy to "democratize" the Mideast, instead of defending this country. The phenomena of the clueless peace workers and Bush's suicidal foreign policy are intimately linked by altruism.
And too often now, when I consider my fellow Americans and the death grip that altruism has on their minds and actions, I feel a phobia coming on.
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:: Monday, March 20, 2006 ::
'V for Vendetta's' counterfeit revolution
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 10:45 AM
I understand why libertarians are all orgasmic over V for Vendetta, the Wachowski brothers' adaptation of Alan Moore's dystopian graphic novel. Much akin to libertarian itself, this is a movie that glorifies revolution without ideas.
The movie's premise is as follows: fueled by the collapse of the US and its failed war against Jihad and after enduring a biological attack that killed 100,000 Britons, the United Kingdom has become a totalitarian dictatorship. One man, concealing his identity by his omnipresent Guy Fawkes mask and known only as "V," begins a violent crusade to destroy the government.
Why does "V" engage in his crusade? As the victim of the government's medical testing, "V" knows that the current governing party created the pandemic that led to its current stranglehold on political power. Does "V" communicate this seemingly crucial fact (and the philosophy behind it) when he seizes the nation's airwaves to mark his destruction of London's Old Bailey in the beginning of the movie? No, there's no Galt's speech presented here. "V" simply states that something is wrong with world and that Britons should join him in the streets when he blows up Parliament a year later in honor of Guy Fawkes Night. After declaring to one of the film's villains that "ideas are bulletproof," does "V" offer any glimpse of what ideas his revolution fights for, instead of what it fights against? Again, "V" is no John Galt. Instead, he is a bloody anarchist who enshrines vengeance over the principle of individual rights.
So while "V" can quote the Jeffersonian admonition that "people ought not fear their governments, governments ought to fear their people," he can't seem to quite recall the portion of the Declaration of Independence that established why a people would ever need to create a government in the first place. V for Vendetta offers chum for practically anyone who would like to unleash a blood frenzy against government, including Muslims upset about Koran abuse, homosexuals tired of government oppression, people opposed to genetic engineering, surveillance cameras, taxation, or the war in Iraq--with "V" it doesn't really matter why. If you hate the state, "V" throws you a bone. Only intellectual revolutionaries, such as the American founders or Objectivists, are left out of V for Vendetta's premise.
And in a moment of utter irony, despite seeking to slip in an indictment of the Bush administration's expedition in Iraq, V for Vendetta nevertheless copies a key element of the administration's Forward Strategy for Freedom: the imposition of political change though force, without any corresponding intellectual argument or change.
And that's why at the hour of "V" triumph, when Parliament is destroyed, the tyrants are slain and the masses take to the streets, one can't help but wonder "and now what?" Such are the fruits of counterfeit revolutionaries.
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:: Friday, March 17, 2006 ::
Why is the Bush Administration sacrificing our Marines?
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 6:20 AM
Here is a story out of Iraq that caught my eye:
About a dozen Marines are being investigated for possible war crimes in connection with the deaths last year of 15 Iraqi civilians who were initially reported killed by a roadside bomb.Let us consider the basic facts. There is no legitimate reason for Iraqis to oppose the US mission in Iraq. The US has toppled a bloody, brutal dictatorship and replaced it with a government whose constitution was written by the Iraqis themselves (and US policy in this regard has been excruciatingly deferential, for the Iraqi constitution is a mess). Despite the magnanimous treatment of the Iraqi people by the US, many in Iraq nevertheless oppose the US mission and have either given material support to the Iraqi insurgency, or have allowed the insurgency to flourish by failing to fight it themselves.
The Navy has opened a criminal investigation into the November 2005 bombing and subsequent firefight between Marines and insurgents that led to the deaths of the Iraqi citizens, defense officials said Thursday.
The inquiry will attempt to determine whether the Marines acted appropriately when they fired back at insurgents following a roadside bomb attack in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, said a military official who requested anonymity because the investigation has not been announced yet. The civilians were hit during that battle.
Military officials in Iraq completed a preliminary investigation and have forwarded it to the Navy Criminal Investigative Service there. Several defense officials acknowledged the investigation was taking place, though the details were provided by one official.
According to the official, the initial allegations of possible violations were brought to the attention of the military by a reporter in mid-February.
Fifteen Iraqis, eight insurgents and a Marine were killed during the Nov. 19 firefight, which began when a roadside bomb detonated next to a joint Iraqi-U.S. squad patrolling Haditha. Immediately after the explosion, insurgents attacked the patrol with small arms.
The Marine killed was assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2 of the 2nd Marine Division; two other Marines were wounded. Defense officials would not identify the unit or Marines involved in the investigation. While several Iraqis were part of the patrol, they are not involved in the investigation, the official said.
Military officials will try to determine whether the Marines followed the international law of armed conflict, including whether they positively identified or tried to identify the enemy and whether they determined there was hostile intent, as they are supposed to do.
The law regulates international military operations, and anyone found in violation can be held liable for war crimes and be court-martialed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
It is not uncommon for insurgents to launch attacks from homes, hospitals and other public buildings, where civilians can get caught in the crossfire. [Lolita C. Baldor, AP]
In a direct attack against US forces that resulted in the death of an American, civilians were allegedly killed. Rather then blame the insurgency for creating the conditions where innocents perish, our own government is investigating our Marines for falling to properly identify their targets under the precepts of “international law,” i.e. the Geneva Convention.
Forgive me for being brutally blunt, but the only acceptable response by Iraqi civilians to an attack on American forces is for the Iraqis to immediately point out who carried out the assault so our troops can utterly annihilate them, and then hide, lest these civilians come between our men and their mission. Anything less is to side with the insurgency. Anything less makes these civilians the real enemy in Iraq—the real source of the insurgency’s power. The insurgency does not exist in a vacuum; it survives only because the Iraqis allow it to survive.
This story goes directly to the heart of Yaron Brook's argument against just war theory and the defects in the Bush administration’s prosecution of the war against America’s enemies. Our government is sacrificing the lives of our solders in the name of minimizing harm to the enemy. In the name of “international law,” it is fighting an altruistic battle when justice to our men demands that they be left free to locate, close with and destroy the enemy without squelching their ability to fight.
And last I checked, the Geneva convention have never been consistently applied to the treatment of our forces in battle. Remember the Bataan death march? Remember Malmédy? Remember the Hanoi Hilton? The Geneva Convention may serve our forces if America ever goes to war with France, but since the chances of that happening are remote, the Bush administration and Congress would be better served by simply acknowledging that warfare is brutal and that the responsibility for the death and suffering that occurs on the battlefield rests solely with the party that initiated force. The just war is the one that ends quickly, because the enemy’s forces and their means of support are fair targets to be dispatched with ruthless force and deliberate speed.
So at root, I say the Geneva Convention be damned. The war in Iraq should be brought to Iraqi civilians, who allowed Saddam to flourish, who either actively or tacitly support the insurgency, and who have taken little initiative to restore order to their own brutal mess of a country.
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:: Thursday, March 16, 2006 ::
Reality catches up with art
Posted by Edward Cline at 7:40 AM
Readers old enough to remember their high school civics classes might recall an earlier expression of "multiculturalism" and "diversity" before these terms were ever coined, that America was a "mosaic" of races and cultures, not a "melting pot" of reason, freedom, and the rule of law. They may recall, with some distaste, their teachers expounding with sanctimony on the subject and their textbooks describing it in preacherly prose. Neither the teachers nor the textbooks, however, offered any guidance or advice about what would happen or what action to take if the elements of that "mosaic" proved to be inimical or hostile to each other and resulted in violent, destiny-defining clashes.
Move from the classroom to home and television. Fans of the four series of "Star Trek" will recall the "Prime Directive," a world "Federation" rule that forbade Enterprise crews from "interfering" with primitive alien cultures, no matter how barbaric and irrational they were. With very few exceptions in the episodes, this rule was strictly and conscientiously observed. Also stressed in the series was the notion of "toleration" of alien cultures and practices, no matter how impossibly "inhuman" they were portrayed. Those cultures were to remain "pure" and undisturbed, left alone to "evolve" on their own, if ever.
But what was the origin of these ideas? Long before the debut of "Star Trek" in the 1960's, they had filtered down from the modern philosophy taught in our universities to Hollywood, philosophy imported from Europe and tailored for American consumption and promulgation over the course of a century. The relativistic, anti-reason, subjectivist, anti-absolute, reality-denying contents of that philosophy, unopposed by even so much as a fillip of Aristotelian philosophy, helped to indoctrinate not only the writers of those and other television programs, but the culture in general. Then came multiculturalism, "diversity," and "tolerance," all shielded under the mantra of political correctness.
President George W. Bush may or may not have been a "Star Trek" fan, but the "Prime Directive" seems to be the foundation of his foreign policy. Islam, in his view, is a religion of peace "hijacked" by extremists and criminals, against whom we are waging (and losing) an unimaginably costly war. Islam, to him, is itself exempt from criticism or judgment. The true nature of the creed eludes him. The thematic similarities between the Koran and, say, Hitler's Mein Kampf, apparently are beyond his grasp. If Iraqis "democratically" vote themselves a theocratic government as repressive as Iran's, the West should not be judgmental, even though it is sacrificing blood and treasure to make it possible. "Tolerance" means adopting a policy of non-judgmentalism, and is the natural partner of the altruistic policy of "sacrifice."
We can, however, thank the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" for introducing and concretizing a new nemesis long before its real-life counterpart made itself known. This was the "The Borg," a ravenous, nomadic phenomenon bent on conquest through the destruction of civilizations and the absorption and forcible conversion of their inhabitants into ant-like ciphers with no volition of their own. Its collective by-word and warning was "Resistance is futile." The sole alternative to submission to it was death. Its goal was to erase all traces of individuality and values from men so they could better serve "the hive."
Islam (or submission) can be characterized as a real-life "Borg." Islam is a creed that demands unthinking, unreserved submission and obedience to the commands of a ghost, purportedly related by an angel (Gabriel) to a pedophilic barbarian-cum-prophet some fourteen centuries ago, and that encourages the conquest and absorption of secular Western societies under primitive Sharia law. Colonies of Muslims appeared and grew in the midst of those societies, in Europe, Canada, the United States, and other Western countries. They were an alien phenomena that first seemed as anomalously insular as the Amish and Hassidic Jews, but have begun to exhibit a virulence that would not otherwise have been noticed, acknowledged or even tolerated but for the emasculating effects of multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance.
Then-chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Omar Ahmad, told a gathering of California Muslims in July 1998 that "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran...should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth." If that ever came to pass, what would happen to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Presumably they would suffer the fate of the Alexandrian Library in a Muslim campaign to cleanse men's minds.
Islamic spokesmen and activists belligerently demand, first, "toleration" of their irrationalism, and then the cessation of any form of criticism of the creed that could be deemed or defined as blasphemy, offense, or "hate crime." On the premise that Islam cannot be "reformed" into a less hostile, non-aggressive creed without destroying it -- a task that would in fact render it as "benign" as that of the Amish, and no longer "Islam," once its homicidal commandments were expunged from the Koran -- what has been the overall Western response to its demands, which are absolute and non-negotiable? Why is the West retreating from the threat of conquest? Why does resistance to Islam appear to be "futile"?
Let us examine some incidents in which Western values, especially freedom of speech, have been challenged and confronted by Islam, and all but abandoned by the West.
In Britain, during the height of the Danish Mohammed cartoon uproar, the police covertly photographed demonstrators in London who carried placards that promised or advocated death for the cartoonists and anyone who "insulted" Mohammed. These demonstrators, however, if they are arrested, will not be charged with inciting murder or violence against individuals, but with "hate crimes." Conversely, anyone expressing a position on Islam that Muslims could claim to be offensive, may also be charged with a "hate crime."
The notion of "hate" crime subverts the whole idea of criminal responsibility, in addition to making mere thought a crime. On one hand, the concept treats an emotion as a crime and grants it legal, prosecutable legitimacy. Since all emotions are based on conscious or subconscious evaluations, or thought, an emotion can manifest itself in some form of objectionable expression (which could be rational or irrational) in oral or printed form.
On the other hand, the notion of "hate" crime grants legal legitimacy to the purported victim's claim of offense, wounded pride, or other emotion-based response to any criticism of the victim's "beliefs," including a sense of jeopardy caused by the "offending" expression.
How easy it will be to shift the definition of a "hate crime" from an inflammatory placard or a shouted imprecation during a demonstration to include an article, essay or book! Are Western judiciaries ready to strike down hate crime laws? No. They are rapidly endorsing their introduction into Western legal systems.
Most Western newspapers demurred reprinting the Danish cartoons out of "sensitivity" to Muslim religious values (although Muslim-run newspapers and news services feel no such constraint when depicting Jews, President Bush, or Western values). The staffs of several American and European university papers were fired or penalized for printing the cartoons. In Minnesota, a professor of geography at Century College was censored by her school's administration for posting some of the cartoons on the bulletin board of her department, even after she hid them from random sight.
Several Mideast editors ran some of the cartoons, not out of sympathy with freedom of speech, doubt about the veracity of Mohammed, or to defy their governments, but simply to show other Muslims what the uproar was about. They were arrested, or dismissed, and their papers closed. One editor in Yemen (a U.S. "ally") faces the death penalty.
Europe is reaping the perilous harvest of its decades-long experiment in multiculturalism and tolerance of the irrational, and there is no reason to think that the endemic Muslim violence there will not be emulated in the U.S. Many European countries, especially France, are experiencing a spike in gang rapes of "unveiled" European and "apostate" Mideast women by Muslim men and teens as a form of jihad. European politicians, artists and writers who have spoken out against the dangers of Islamofascism or who have been critical of Islam must have police protection. Many Muslim sections of European cities are "no go" areas to the police. A Turkish Muslim proclaimed in 2003 that Paris, Rome and Madrid were now components of the Islamic world because so many mosques have been erected in those capitals.
It can't happen here? American Muslims are not "into" jihadist behavior? Daniel Pipes has on his site logged dozens of instances of "mini-jihadi" in the U.S. committed by resident Muslims, the most recent being the attempted murder on March 3rd of students on the campus of the University of North Carolina by an Iranian immigrant who drove an SUV into a crowded pedestrian zone with the intent of killing as many Americans as he could. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, age 22, was the quintessential "moderate," Western-educated Muslim and model student (majoring in philosophy and psychology) who before his action displayed no overt signs of hostility towards his adopted country. His statements, after his arrest, comprise the kind of anti-American rant one can find on jihadist websites or in al-Quada videotapes.
Pipes is understandably perplexed by the event, and writes that Taheri-azar was "not some low-life, not homicidal, not psychotic, but a conscientious student and amiable person." He reaches some wrong conclusions and offers an irrelevant solution. Muslims, he writes, should develop "a moderate, modern, and good-neighborly version of Islam that rejects radical Islam, jihad, and the subordination of 'infidels.'" However, the term "radical Islam" is redundant. Remove jihad and the subordination of infidels from Islam, and there is no Islam. The problem is the creed, just as it is with Christians who attack abortion clinics or murder doctors, and with environmentalists who torch car dealerships or attack animal research labs.
The idea of "non-interference" ala Star Trek is evidence of multiculturalism's influence in the general culture. It, diversity and "tolerance" combine to close the door to rational discussion and persuasion in every detail. It renders helpless law enforcement to deal with the irrational, barbaric ethics and practices of Islam. Muslims can get away with their irrationality under the protection of multiculturalist "tolerance." Any proposal or move to dilute Islam's "purity" as practiced by Muslims triggers claims of Islamophobia or apostasy or even racism, not only by Muslim spokesmen, but by many Westerners, as well (such as Hollywood). From the Islamic perspective, "tolerance" is a unilateral policy to be benefited only by Muslims, while "multiculturalism" or "diversity" certainly is not on the Islamic agenda of global or even American or European conquest.
Only two choices are open to the West: submission to Islam by means of a totalitarian repression of free thought and expression imposed by Western and especially by American authorities; or an assertion of the Western values of reason and individual rights and of their superiority over any species of mysticism, and a declaration of true war against Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. The alternative is to experience the degradation of progressive subservience or "tolerated" dhimmitude in deference to the "Borg."
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