Stars, Stripes, Crescent: A reassuring portrait of America’s Muslims

Wall Street Journal BRET STEPHENS AND JOSEPH RAGO Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ever since it became clear that three of the four jihadis who bombed London on July 7 were born and bred in England, the British have been taking a hard look at their Muslim neighbors: Do they share the same values? How do they fare economically? Whom do they cheer when England plays Pakistan at cricket? And how many more would-be bombers are among them?

As it happens, Her Majesty’s government was well clued on these questions before the bombers struck: A 2004 Home Office study showed, for example, that British Muslims are three times likelier to be unemployed than the wider population, that their rates of civic participation are low, and that as many as 26% do not feel loyal to Britain. By contrast, the U.S. Census Bureau is forbidden by law from keeping figures on religious identification (although it collects voluminous information on race and ethnicity), so there are no authoritative data on the size and nature of America’s Muslim population. Yet if the U.S. is ever attacked by American jihadis, we will no doubt ask the same questions about our Muslim community that Britons are now asking about theirs.
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The Theology of Global Warming

Wall Street Journal JAMES SCHLESINGER August 8, 2005

Almost unnoticed, the theology of global warming has in recent weeks suffered a number of setbacks. In referring to the theology of global warming, one is not focusing on evidence of the earth’s warming in recent decades, particularly in the Arctic, but rather on the widespread insistence that such warming is primarily a consequence of man’s activities — and that, if only we collectively had the will, we could alter our behavior and stop the warming of the planet.
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When the Lines Were Drawn

How the Scopes trial reshaped science, religion and politics. CHRISTOPHER LEVENICK
Wall Street Journal Online

Eighty years ago last month, at the trial of John Scopes, the first shots of the culture war were fired. Scopes’s crime? Teaching his high-school biology class a lesson that was thought to deny the biblical account of human origins, in violation of Tennessee’s new Anti-Evolution Act.

To nobody’s surprise, Scopes was found guilty–he had clearly broken the law–but the verdict did little to resolve the difficulties over teaching evolution in public schools. This year alone, 13 states have introduced legislation that would require schoolteachers to take a more critical approach toward evolutionary theory.

If the issues at stake in the Scopes trial seem familiar, so too should the way they unfolded. As in any good culture-war campaign, much of the controversy was staged. The law that Scopes broke was a symbolic measure, signed by a governor who thought it would never be enforced. Indeed, its leading advocate thought it should have no penalty provision. Scopes himself was no martyr for the cause of science: Local businessmen had asked him to stand for a test case, hoping that the publicity might improve the declining fortunes of Dayton, Tenn. As for the trial, it proved principally a chance for fundamentalists and the American Civil Liberties Union to duke it out before a national audience.

But it would be a serious mistake to think that little has changed since 1925, that we are simply rehashing long-exhausted arguments. The major issues of the Scopes case–religious, scientific, legal and political–have all shifted dramatically.


Kingdom of This World

The American Spectator George Neumayr Published 5/10/2005 12:06:30 AM

The gravitation of liberals to illiberal ideologies is uncanny. The more illiberal the ideology, the more likely liberals will endeavor to understand and defend it. Militant Islam enjoys the benefits of this phenomenon in this century, just as the totalitarians of the Soviet Union benefited from it in the last. Militant Islam’s most powerful propagandists are not Muslims but self-hating Westerners who interpret militant Islam’s history and doctrines with a sympathy they never extend to Western religion.

The latest illustration of this self-hatred is Kingdom of Heaven, an anti-crusader movie that contains Hollywood’s idea of a happy ending — Christians in retreat and Islam on the march. Owing to this species of death-wish liberalism, Islamic conquerors against the West don’t even need to rewrite history. Defeated Westerners will rewrite it for them, making their imperialism by the sword look harmless

A few years ago PBS, making a great effort to refurbish Islam in the wake of 9/11, produced a documentary depicting the early Muslim warriors as 7th-century Alan Aldas. Kingdom of Heaven keeps this propaganda rolling, which director Sir Ridley Scott’s spokesman didn’t even bother to hide prior to the movie’s release. He told the London press last year that the movie is designed to please Muslims. “We hope that the Muslim world sees the rectification of history,” Scott’s spokesman said.


Benedict XVI: Science May Have a New Friend and Neo-Darwinism a New Foe

From The Center for Science and Culture blog:

Cardinal Ratzinger’s sermon at the Mass for the Election of a Supreme Pontiff has been trumpeted as a frontal assault against cultural relativism. This it was and, yet, digging deeper one finds reason to believe that Ratzinger, the newly elected Pope, may also have materialist interpretations of science (including Darwnism) in his

In an impassioned essay at NRO, Michael Novak writes:

What Ratzinger attacks as relativism is the regulative principle that all thought is and must remain subjective. What he defends against such relativism is the contrary regulative principle, namely, that each human subject must continue to inquire incessantly…. Ratzinger wishes to defend the imperative of seeking the truth in all things, the imperative to follow the evidence.

Neo-Darwinism has long shielded itself from scrutiny and competition by a convoluted web of definitional tactics. Those we might term militant Neo-Darwinists don’t want scientists to follow the evidence wherever it leads. They only want to follow it to material, impersonal causes.

Read more.


Book recommendation: The Cube and the Cathedral

I’m reading George Weigel’s The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God and want to recommend it to anyone trying to understand more deeply the religious underpinnings of culture.

Weigel posits WWI as the point where the cataclysmic dislocation from a Christian to secular atheist of European society occurred. Of course the ideas of secular atheism have antecedents in earlier epochs, but they emerged as part of Christian culture because of the great dislocation. Only when WWI ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, has it become clear how radical the secularist atheism really is.

I’m only about a third of the way through it but there are quite a few gems in the book. (Missourian, you would like the facts on the decline of European culture; one example: Sweden has a poverty class greater than the US.) One is this: the social structures of secular atheism always work towards the destruction of people. So true when you think of it: abortion, euthanasia, etc. It’s what we call the “culture of death.”

The “Cube” of the title (La Grande Arche de la Defense) serves as counterpoint to the “Cathedral” (Notre Dame) which reflect de-Christianized Europe against a formerly Christian Europe.

Take a loot at the book the next time you are at B&N. (Better yet, order it through the link above and send a couple of quarters my way to help pay for this site.) Many OT readers will like it.


‘Good sex for teens’: The war against abstinence Robert Rector

Each year, more than 3 million teenagers contract a sexually transmitted disease. In addition to the threat of disease and pregnancy, sexually active teens are three times more likely than teens who aren’t sexually active to become depressed and to attempt suicide.

Clearly, it’s in society’s interest to discourage teen sex. Teens themselves realize this: According to a Zogby poll, more than 90 percent of them say that society should teach kids to abstain from sex until they have, at least, finished high school. Parents want a stronger message: Almost nine in 10 want schools to teach youth to abstain from sex until they’re married or in an adult relationship that is close to marriage.


The end of self-reliance? George Will

WASHINGTON — It hurt her feelings, says Jane Fonda, sharing her feelings, that one of her husbands liked them to have sexual threesomes. `”It reinforced my feeling I wasn’t good enough.'”

In the Scottsdale, Ariz., Unified School District office, the receptionist used to be called a receptionist. Now she is “director of first impressions.” The happy director says, “Everyone wants to be important.”

Manufacturers of pens and markers report a surge in teachers’ demands for purple ink pens. When marked in red, corrections of students’ tests seem so awfully judgmental.

Fonda’s confession, Scottsdale’s tweaking of terminology and the recoil from red markings are manifestations of today’s therapeutic culture. The nature and menace of “therapism” is the subject of a new book, “One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self-Reliance” by Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel, M.D., resident scholars at the American Enterprise Institute.


Maureen Dowd: “The Cafeteria is closed”

From the Touchstone Blog:

Maureen Dowd from her column in today’s editions of The New York Times on the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI:

“For American Catholics – especially women and Democratic pro-choice Catholic pols – the cafeteria is officially closed.”

While good Christians will disagree with Ms. Dowd about the exclusion of “women” during the new papacy (do any of the women in this AP photo‹nuns, teenagers, mothers, etc.‹seem left out to you?), so far as the closing of the American Catholic Cafeteria, pan-orthodox Christians (whether Protestant, Orthodox or Catholic) can respond with a hearty “Amen.” We never liked the food from that joint anyway.

“The Cafeteria is Closed” might serve as the new motto for the Ratzinger Fan Club.

–Kenneth Tanner


College taught her not to be a heterosexual Dennis Prager April 19, 2005

Perhaps the most important argument against same-sex marriage is that once society honors same-sex sex as it does man-woman sex, there will inevitably be a major increase in same-sex sex. People do sexually (as in other areas) what society allows and especially what it honors.

One excellent example illustrating this is an article recently written in the McGill University newspaper by McGill student Anna Montrose. In it, she wrote:

It’s hard to go through four years of a Humanities B.A. reading Foucault and Butler and watching ‘The L Word’ and keep your rigid heterosexuality intact. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but it seems I no longer have the easy certainty of pinning my sexual desire to one gender and never the other.

(Michel Foucault is a major French “postmodern” philosopher; Judith Butler is a prominent “gender theorist” at UC Berkeley; and “The L-Word” is a popular TV drama about glamorous lesbians.)


Children are big losers in fad of faux virginity

Frank Johnson passes along the following comments and article link in his email newsletter:

We watched Kevin Lenhart grow up in the house across the street and just up the road from us. He’s the neighborhood kid who has “done good” — as the expression goes. We watched him get a degree in Hospital Administration from University of Central Florida. Now that Kevin Lenhart is Program Operations Administrator for the nearby Lake County Health Department, we watch him being interviewed in the media about health issues from time to time. You may find his comments in the recent article below to be unpleasant — sometimes that’s the way the truth is — but please read what my former neighbor has to say about how our children today are engaging in oral sex and catching STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases) in the process.
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Quote from Peggy Noonan

But what the Summers story most illustrates is that American universities now seem like Medieval cloisters. They’re like a cloister without the messy God part. Old monks of leftism walk their hallowed halls in hooded robes, chanting to themselves. Young nuns of leftist deconstructionism, pale as orchids, walk along wringing their hands, listening to their gloomy music. They become hysterical at the antichrist of a new idea, the intrusion of the reconsideration of settled matter. Get thee behind me, Summers.


Alexander Solzheitsyn

“Man has forgotten God, that is why this has happened,” was Solzhenitsyn’s response when questioned about the decline of modern culture. A Russian author, Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned for eight years by Joseph Stalin.
He wrote “The Gulag Archipelago” for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, but the Communist government would not allowed him to leave the country to accept it. Finally, under international pressure, the Soviet Union expelled him on this day February 13, 1974.

While in Washington, D.C., in 1975, Alexander Solzhenitsyn warned: “I…call upon America to be more careful…because they are trying to weaken you…to disarm your strong and magnificent country in the face of this fearful threat – one that has never been seen before in the history of the world.”


Notes on Tom Wolfe

I think Tom Wolfe is one of our more lucid social commentators. I particularly liked “Bonfire of the Vanities” and “From Bauhaus to Our House.” There is also an essay on Frederick Nietsche that Wolfe wrote that is not on the web unfortunately, but if you ever get your hands on it (I can’t remember where I read it — “Hooking Up” maybe?), make sure to read it. “A Man in Full” was, well, disappointing — so full of the awarness of a need for redemption but an unsatisfying conclusion that the redemption is found in a restoration of a kind of neo-classicism drawn from the ancient philosophers.

In any case, two interviews with Wolfe can be found at the Guardian website (The Liberal Elite hasn’t Got a Clue), and The Times Online (‘Talk to someone in Cincinnati? Are you crazy?’. . . and so the Democrats blew it:Tom Wolfe on the elite that got lost in middle America).