Sunday, September 09, 2007

Benedict the Lame

Sorry folks. The guy is just a moron.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Getting Osama

There will no doubt be lots of analysis of the new Osama video over the next several days. If the reports are accurate, concerning what is said in that video, there is really only one message that matters: According to Osama, we must convert to Islam or die.

This writer knows of no one, liberal or conservative (except for the late Jerry Falwell) who thinks there has ever been any justification for Islamist terrorism. Yet conservatives have succeeded in portraying liberals, and the Democrats in particular, as sympathizers, enablers, or appeasers. And they have been able to do so because, when it comes to calling a spade a spade, the Democrats are cowards. By contrast, the conservatives are not afraid to shout from the rooftops that the Islamo-fascists want us dead. The problem with hearing it from our conservatives is that the policies they advocate in response are idiotic, and would lead to World War III faster than you can say "rapture".

Meanwhile, the Democrats, who by and large have better ideas about how to deal with extremism, seem pathologically unable to use the word "terrorist" in public speech. They've got their undies in a knot, trying to be politically correct and not offend mainstream Muslims. They defend airport screening protocols that treat grandmothers from North Dakota the same as young males with beards and Arabic names. In the process, they look and sound, well, weak and stupid.

Let's have a history lesson: Islam arose latest of the world's major religions; driven by a creed that called for forcible conversion, it became the most populous of those religions in very short order. It stormed out of the desert and, in a few hundred years, completely took over North Africa and even part of Europe. Contrary to the attempts by most Democrats and even George "Islam is a religion of peace" Bush to whitewash it, the fact is that the Koran repeatedly calls for the conversion of infidels, by sword if necessary, and its adherents have been very efficient at it. "But," you say, "today those kinds of extremists are just a lunatic fringe!" Really?

An estimated 200 million "mainstream" Muslims live in communities that practice female genital mutilation. A dozen Muslim countries operate Sharia courts, where they condemn children to death by stoning for "moral" offenses such as dating across clan lines. Religious minorities are no longer safe in Muslim countries, as they once were. Madrassas across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are teaching undiluted hate and instilling in children a thirst for martyrdom. Sudan lurches from genocide to genocide, with Christians and Muslims alike butchered or starved to death by the Muslim government. At some point, one has to wake up and acknowledge that the values system that permits these realities is intolerable to human society.

If pointing this out is cultural imperialism, then so be it. Conservatives, usually quick to defend oppression under the guise of "letting people be" (think apartheid, south American death squads) have, to their credit, been crystal clear about the threat of radical Islam, even if they have to hold their noses while defending womens' rights. Meanwhile, progressives, so willing to protest China's crimes in Tibet, can't bring themselves to look the Muslim world in the eye and demand an accounting for its vastly greater and deeply endemic barbarism.

The only way the world's Islamic "mainstream" can earn the trust of the rest of us is to reject the use of force, and to repudiate Bin Laden and his ilk. Refusing to shelter and aid terrorists would be a great start. The conservatives in this country are not bothering to ask for that, because they are too busy with their own calls for blood and vengeance--they frankly love the idea of Holy War, and if you don't believe that, listen to Sean Hannity and Matt Drudge on the radio, if you can stand it. No, only the liberals and the Democrats any longer have the intellectual or moral standing to call for the Muslim world to stand down and embrace moderation. But to issue that call, they are going to have to get over their own reticence about Islam's brutal history. As long as they cower in the margins, they will deservedly be painted as appeasers. And, with the conservatives defining the debate, we slide closer to the abyss.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

All the wrong reasons

Yes, we are all sick of hearing about Larry Craig. But there is one thing which keeps going unsaid, and should be said. Despite the claims of the Republican leadership that this is not about Craig being gay, in fact that is exactly what it is all about. The only one who seems to get that is Craig himself, whose major public statements have consisted of repeated, desperate denials that he is gay.

It is a wonderful illustration of the problem the Republicans have bought themselves by relying on hate to build their coalition. They cannot come out and say they are throwing one of their own under the bus for being gay. That would cement their position as the party of intolerance. But they have to satisfy their base, which, to be honest, doesn't give a damn about some minor infraction in an airport mens' room. All you have to do is listen to the conservative radio folks to know that, for them, Craig's homosexuality IS what it's all about, and they want Craig out. So the Senate leaders pretend it is about the infraction, while tacitly reassuring their "base" that they can be counted on to root out any sign of queerness from the ranks.

This writer is no fan of Larry Craig. He has been wrong on a lot of stuff, most of all in his hypocritical campaign against human rights in America. But he should not be losing his office over this. As in the Ted Haggard case, the Republicans, handed a golden opportunity to re-examine their doctrine of intolerance, have instead dug themselves deeper into the hole. And Craig, handed a golden opportunity to come out and become a free man, has thrown away the key to his own prison.