The Book!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ignatieff Leads

This is really cool. The Liberals have set up a stock ticker showing delegates won candidate by candidate over this Super Weekend.

And it looks as though, despite the mini-boom for Rae recently, Ignatieff is still the one to beat. Best news for Ignatieff is that Rae and Dion are running neck and neck. This makes it harder for either to emerge as the clear alternative. And at this moment, Rae is running third!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Nazis with their Pants Down


nazi nude
Originally uploaded by sroneykor.
The parallels between Nazism and postmodernism just go on and on. Like the postmodernists, the Nazis celebrated the body and the act of procreation. This was a public statue of the day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

You Go Girl!

Kathy Shaidle kicks serious feminist butt over at Small Dead Animals. Kind of makes you want to stand up and cheer.

This worm looks like turning.

Every Rae Has His Day

Latest buzz on the Liberal leadership race is that Bob Rae is now the frontrunner. He trails Ignatieff in first ballot support, but not by that much; and he has greater second-ballot growth potential.

The delegate figures this weekend will tell a clearer story; but this sounds plausible. If Ignatieff has fallen back, and if Rae has surged, I attribute it to one thing: Ignatieff’s support of the Iraq War. Unfortunately for him, the American involvement in Iraq has grown less popular, and has become a crucial litmus test for the left.

And, if Ignatieff is in trouble in Canada on this basis, that suggests that Hillary Clinton is in very big trouble in the US.

If Bob Rae can establish himself as the leading alternative to Ignatieff, he indeed has a very good chance.

By electing Rae, the Liberals would be ceding more of the centre ground to the Conservatives, if the Tories chose to take it. But that may not matter, in Canadian politics. There is an old saw, which seems to usually hold true: when the Liberals run to the right of the Conservatives, they lose. The Liberals can run to the left and hope to pull enough votes away from the NDP to take power; if they run to the right, what they gain from the Conservatives tends to be lost to the NDP on the other wing.

Rae, with his experience and stage presence, is arguably the strongest candidate the Liberals can put forward for the very next election. If they think they can win, they probably should go with him. And he may be more attractive as a second choice to other candidates and their supporters because, if he fails, he looks more like a short-term leader. In the meantime, some of the other candidates can take the opportunity to build up their Canadian federal political credentials for a later run: Ignatieff, Dryden (needs to work on that French), Kennedy, Brison, Bennett.

I, for one, though, will be disappointed if Ignatieff does not win—strictly for the possible rise in the intellectual level of political debate.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Under the Veil


muhammed
Originally uploaded by sroneykor.
Now here’s a tragic image.

From my last trip to Turkey, a modern reproduction of a traditional Turkish manuscript illustration. The manuscript illuminated by this would almost certainly have been the Qur’an.

The picture shows Mohammed on the Night Journey, in which he ascended the seven heavens and alit on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock (Al-Aqsa Mosque) is there today to commemorate the event.

Nevertheless, even at the height of his triumph, the poor prophet is oppressed by being obliged to wear a veil.


Moral: the right of Muslim women to wear the veil is not a matter of oppression. It is a mark of singular privilege and respect. Few men are permitted to wear the veil—only God himself and the prophets.

If this is oppression of women, then emperors are oppressed too, by being allowed to wear the crown.

Al-Jazeera features a story on the growing popularity of the abaya.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Islam on Islam

A Muslim cleric has, at last, given a response to the charge of Manuel II Paleologos that Islam has been spread by the sword. Dr. Yousef al-Qaradawi, of the University of Qatar, observes that “the wars Muslims waged” in the time of Muhammed and the first Caliphs, “were aimed to liberate the persecuted peoples of the region from the hegemony of the Roman and Persian Empires.”

“The notion of wiping out infidels has no ground in Islam as duality of belief and disbelief is one of the rules governing the world in the Qur’anic verses.” That is, according to the Qur’an, it is left to God himself to destroy all non-Muslim nations at the end of time.

The following web site also gives an answer to the charge, dating from 1999:

http://www.islamicvoice.com/august.99/zakir.htm

It makes the valid point that Christians and Jews, in conquered Muslim territories like Egypt and Lebanon, were not forced to convert. Significant Christian and Jewish communities remained, and remain. Muslims merely had tax advantages—a considerably more enlightened policy than Europe pursued towards Muslims at the time. Similarly, although India was mostly ruled by Muslims for several centuries, the Hindus were permitted to continue to observe their religion.

There is an anomaly here in Islam, to the Christian mind. Islam can be separated into two entities: a tradition of law and government, and a personal faith. The tradition of law and government has indeed been spread by the sword, and the Qur’an seems to demand that it be spread by the sword. This is reflected, obliquely, in Dr. al-Qaradawi’s comments about Islam saving the people of the Middle East from Roman and Persian oppression. If Islam in this sense is simply moral and God-sanctioned government, it goes more or less without saying that it is right to spread it by force. Compare the current American, and western, faith in democracy and human rights. By rights, all world governments ought, to Islam, to be run on Islamic principles.

But private faith is another matter. Under a Muslim government, Christians, Jews, and even Zoroastrians or Hindus, have usually been left to believe what they like.

Seeing this dual nature of Islam, it is possible to see how Islam can maintain, at the same time, that there is no compulsion in religion, and that every Muslim has a permanent obligation to wage Holy War against infidels.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

In the Company of Women

This little bit of audio, originally from Texas, was so wildly popular on CHUM radio that they put it on their web site:

http://www.chumfm.com/MorningShow/bits/march24.swf

Listen and enjoy yourself.

Then, once you've stopped laughing, try to imagine the sex roles reversed: four men publicly beat the crap out of a woman.

Would it still be funny?

Women have far more freedoms than men. They can more or less do as they please, and society will support them.

Men? Better watch your step.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Royal Throne


royal throne
Originally uploaded by sroneykor.
Belatedly rounding out our series on the crowned butts of Turkey, here is something they do not show you in the official tour of the Harem of Topkapi Palace. This, apparently, is where the Sultan and his concubines relieved themselves.

It helps to remember that even a Sultan or Caliph puts his trousers on one pantleg at a time.

It's basically the same as the toilet the common Turk would use; only made of marble with fixtures of gold.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Partition Iraq

We are hearing one heck of a lot of angst from the US military, from the UN, and from the press about Iraq being on the brink of civil war.

Ther solution is staggeringly simple. The US should simply partition Iraq. Problem solved. Insurgency solved. Civil War solved. What's the problem?

The British learned this lesson long ago, didn't they? Just about whenever you leave a conquered country, civil war breaks out, and partition is required.

This happens because one or another ethnic group has been favoured in the past, and fears future retribution from the majority. It happened in Ireland; it happened in India; it happened in Malaysia; why wouldn't it happen in Iraq?

Literally, the Brits decided that the thing to do is cut, and run. Not their problem, is it? Similarly, why is it any skin of the US's nose if Iraq is split?

And how would it be a bad thing? It is the one way to satisfy the Sunnis, who fear retribution from the majority Shiites for their bullying under Saddam. This seems to be the main motive of the current insurrection.

And it is what the Kurds have always really wanted. The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world, they maintain, that lacks its own independent state. So what would be so wrong with allowing them an independent state in northern Iraq? Why is it right for the Jews to have a state, but wrong for the Kurds?

And I do believe there is also no independent Shiite Arab state anywhere. So why not let the Shiites have their state in Southern Iraq?

What’s so wrong with allowing the right to self-determination of peoples that Wilson championed at Versailles? Why isn’t sauce for Europe sauce for the Middle East?

Just do it. Partition Iraq.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Islam on the Pope

Quotes on the recent Benedict on Islam controversy:


Hussein Shabakshy wrote in an article published by the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat. “These are ignorant comments previously made by Adolf Hitler, who spoke of a supreme white race against all the other races, especially the African race.”

This is a rather ironic misunderstanding of history. Hitler’s recorded comments on Islam are in fact quite positive: he preferred it to Christianity, because he believed it was warlike, while Christianity was too forgiving.

Nor did Hitler, as far as we can tell, have any special interest in an “African race” (there is of course no such thing). His concern was with the Aryans as master race, with the Jews as a supposed pollutant, and with the Slavs as a subject race. None are from Africa.



Somebody on Wizbang comments: “While whole hosts of people got bent out of shape over his quoting Manuel II, I didn't see too many refutations of it, with people citing just where Manuel got it wrong and showing some positive innovations from Islam.”


I think this is very much what is called for. I am personally quite disappointed that apparently no dialogue has yet been attempted on the Muslim side.

Nor does it seem to be simply that the Western media are not reporting the erudite responses from the other side. I have been scanning the Muslim English-language media too, and have so far seen no response to Manuel II’s charges. The Khaleej Times has also called for this, and seems to have received no response from leading Muslim scholars.

Here is Islam’s great chance to refute the charge, which, whether the Pope believes it or not, is worth refuting for the sake of Islam’s reputation in the non-Muslim world. Why is nobody taking up the task? Why the deafening silence?

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Pope on Islam

As must have been expected, Pope Benedict’s comments on Islam in Regensburg have caused a firestorm in the Muslim world.

The Pope quoted Byzantine Emperor Manuel Paleologos II saying “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” He did not say whether he agreed or not, other than describing Manuel’s words as “startlingly brusque” and “forceful.” It was purely an example in a lecture on the subject of the proper relationship between reason and faith.

In response, the representative of Germany’s general council of Muslims declared “After the blood-stained conversions in South America, the Crusades in the Muslim world, the coercion of the church by Hitler’s regime, and even the coining of the phrase ‘holy war’ by Pope Urban II, I do not think the church should point a finger at extremist activities in other religions." A Turkish politician declared that Benedict “is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini."

It is too bad that prominent Muslims have responded this way; for their response seems to me to be a refusal to enter into dialogue. It also seems unfair to expect the Pope, a prominent scholar, to be so circumspect in what he says. Must he really choose references in every lecture so carefully that they are incapable of offending anyone? Would this not hobble him in his role as teacher to the world’s Catholics? Would Catholics presume the same right to object to any given reference by a prominent Muslim scholar? Surely not.

Instead of clearly countering the charge of the long-dead Byzantine emperor, the Muslim leaders quoted in the press are making wild claims against Christianity. Blood-stained conversions in South America? Just the reverse: the church was most often the protector of the native peoples. Crusades in the Muslim world? The Crusades only sought to win back historically Christian land taken by Islam; if there was something wrong with that, it is hardly seemly of Muslims, as original aggressors, to object. The coercion of the church by Hitler? If that is the church’s fault, the Jews must also be responsible for the Holocaust. Pope Urban II coined the phrase “holy war”? Urban was elected pope in 1088. “Holy war” (jihad) is promoted in the Quran, written in 622 CE, as one of the central pillars of the Islamic faith. Clearly, the concept of holy war came to Christianity from Islam, not the other way around.

The reason for this heated reaction, I think, is that the Muslim leaders are placed in an awkward position. Because Manuel Paleologos is right.

I have in my library a book titled The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, written by a practicing Muslim, Cyril Glasse. It was published in 1989, before the issue of “jihad” became topical politically. The entry for “jihad” reads “’Holy war,’ a Divine institution of warfare to extend Islam into the dar al-harb (the non-Islamic territories…)” How is this different from what Manuel said? If it can indeed be denied that Islam advocates conversion by the sword, surely some careful explanation is in order, not name-calling? Albeit it may the the press who has emphasized the name-calling, not the Muslim clerics quoted.

The Quran is ambiguous; it says both that there is “no compulsion in religion,” and that one should “fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you.” Historically, and today, there are clearly Muslims who believe in conversion by force, and Muslims who believe that anyone who converts from Islam to another religion is to be killed.

So the Muslim leaders probably cannot, with reason or with evidence, refute Manuel here. They cannot demonstrate clearly that Islam opposes violence in the name of religion. They can probably establish no more than that their own interpretation of Islam does not support this. Or shout down those who mention the problem.

Before it is possible to respond properly to the Pope, Muslims need to discuss this among themselves, and come to some sort of consensus. Either they need to present a coherent rational case for the morality of conversion by force, which would make sense to non-Muslims like Benedict, or they must come to a convincing interpretation of the Quran and Muslim tradition that shows both Muslims and non-Muslims that this literal interpretation of jihad is impossible.

Neither is likely to happen soon. But if this is the result of the Pope’s remarks, he will have done a service to Islam. Indeed, this is one great advantage of the discourse between religions throughout history. It forces the various faiths to hone and clarify exactly what it is that they believe. Islam has often done this service for Christianity; Protestantism has often done it for Catholicism.

We do not have to agree in order to profit from the dialogue.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Liberal Race Neck and Neck--But Ignatieff is a Lap Ahead

A poll on the liberal leadership earlier this week made headlines. The news hook was that the Liberal leadership race was tighter than supposed: a virtual tie among Ignatieff, Dion, Brison, Rae, and Kennedy.

This is misleading. Most importantly, this was a poll of the general public, not of those who will choose the Liberal leader. Secondly, given the scant interest the race has stirred so far, the results probably show little more than name recognition.

Who does elect the Liberal leader? Mostly, Liberal party activists; with some votes reserved for sitting Liberal members.

We already know something of the support among sitting members: based on public declarations to date, the race looks like this:

Ignatieff: 42 members, house and senate.
Brison: 12 members.
Dion: 10 members.
Rae: 10 members.

Not a tight race. If the old rules were followed, by which the leader was chosen by the members of parliament in caucus, Ignatieff would be home free. As it is, the close race among his rivals increases his chances, by making it more difficult for opposition to coalesce around a single alternative candidate.

We will pretty well know the rest of the story on the September 29 weekend. The rest of the delegates will be chosen on that date. They will generally be pledged to one candidate or another on the first ballot. It is possible the race will be over then.

Most of the delegates come from the Liberal riding associations across the country: 14 from each riding. In addition, 55 youth clubs get to send 4 delegates each; 82 women’s commissions and 7 seniors clubs also send 1 delegate each, and aboriginal groups send 245 delegates.

Interestingly, this is nothing close to one-person-one-vote. Instead, certain groups—youth, women, aboriginals, seniors—are privileged in the process. A middle-aged white man gets one vote, for 14 delegates. A middle-aged white woman can get two votes, for 15 delegates. A middle-aged aboriginal woman can get three votes, for 260 delegates. A young aboriginal woman gets four votes, for 264 delegates.

But that is entirely the business of the Liberal Party. Even the riding voting is not one-person-one-vote, because Liberals in some parts of the country are rather less numerous than in others. A rural Alberta Liberal is likely to get a bigger say in the selection of his or her riding’s 14 delegates than a Toronto Liberal.The point is, a poll of the general public is almost completely irrelevant to the Liberal race.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mademoiselle from Ottawa, Parlez-vous?

The biggest story after the latest Liberal leadership debate, in Quebec City, is apparently how bad the various candidates are in French. Dion, of course, is fluent. Ignatieff and Rae are the next best. Brison got credit for improving quickly. Gerard Kennedy and Joe Volpe held their own. Ken Dryden and Carolyn Bennett were incomprehensible, and Hedy Fry and Martha Hall Findlay didn’t even, for the most part, make the effort to try.

I expect nobody else has the nerve to point out that the women are clustered at the bottom of the pack.

How come? Dion has the advantage of being raised in French, but the others have had to pick it up with deliberate effort. If they want to be prime minister of Canada, why were the women not willing, as were the men, to make this effort? This is perhaps particularly surprising because studies show women find it easier to pick up a second language than do men.

Surely there is only one explanation: though this is of course a very small statistical sample, it indicates that women are not prepared to work as hard at or for the same job as are men. This speaks rather eloquently to why there are fewer women at the top in business and politics; and why women are paid less. They work less, at least at the office. This matters more at the higher levels.

And this speaks to a sense of privilege. They apparently expect special consideration because they are women.

Now, it is true that none of the women stand much chance of winning. We are a couple of decades past the time when a woman with considerably weaker qualifications could win only because she was a woman: the days of Geraldine Ferraro and Shirley McLaughlin. Women now need to have some kind of credentials, if only because there are likely to be other women running. Nevertheless, the three women running seem to have somewhat slimmer resumes than the men.

Why are no men with similarly weak credentials running?

Assuming that the women have no better chance to win than men with the same credentials, there are, I think, two possible explanations. First, it could be that women think more highly of themselves and their capabilities than men. This speaks again to a sense of privilege. Second, it could be that women, in losing, have less to lose. If a man loses, he is blamed for it. If a woman loses, she is empathized with. The man will have his career damaged. The woman is just as likely to have hers enhanced. For example, everybody empathized with Flora Macdonald, and actually blamed the voters, when she lost the conservative leadership. Did anyone empathize with Claude Wagner? Hardly; career over. He disappeared without a trace.

Similarly, though it turned out to be a bit of a miscalculation, Sheila Copps felt she could afford to run against Paul Martin, and certainly lose, when no man dared.

We cut women much more slack than men. Women are freer to try anything. If they win, they get the credit. If they lose, they do not get the blame.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Joseph and Mary

You never know what the future might hold. Joseph R. was a bachelor at 43. Holding only a low-ranking civil service job, he had no success in and little hope of interesting any woman in becoming his wife.

Finally, he tried running an ad in the newspaper, seeking a “good Catholic girl who can cook and sew a bit … to marry as soon as possible.”

No replies.

He tried again four months later, in a magazine for young women.

This time he received one response, from Maria P.

They married three months later. Eventually, they had three children.

The youngest became Pope Benedict XVI.


There are too many lessons to be learned from that to mention.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Germaine Greer's Eulogy for Steve Irwin

Germaine Greer deserves some credit. Her existence, in the end, has done some good to the world. In her recent piece on the death of Steve Irwin, she has once and for all exploded the feminist claim that women are necessarily somehow more caring and more sensitive to the feelings of others than are men. Irwin died at the untimely age of 44, leaving behind two small children, and his funeral had not yet been held; but Greer rushed into print with the suggestion that he deserved to die. Because, like a typical man, he was trying to “dominate” animals.

Was she not concerned about being out of step in her views with most Australians? Not at all. Greer responded that most Australians are “idiots.”

Only an invincible sense of privilege and superiority can account for that sort of callousness. Surely it is right up there with Marie-Antoinette’s legendary “let them eat cake.”

And note this fanciful passage from her column:

You can just imagine Irwin yelling: "Just look at these beauties! Crikey! With those barbs a stingray can kill a horse!" (Yes, Steve, but a stingray doesn't want to kill a horse. It eats crustaceans, for God's sake.)

Here she is, quite literally, talking to herself in print: she is arguing, not with Irwin, but with an imaginary character. This is a person out of touch with reality.

There’s more:

The crocodile would rather have been anywhere else and the chicken had had a grim life too, but that's entertainment at Australia Zoo.


She seems to believe she can tell exactly what a crocodile is thinking. A crocodile she has never met. She effortlessly assumes she knows more of what he is thinking than Steve Irwin does—a man who has spent his life with crocodiles, and its life with this crocodile. Her inner sense of superiority is invincible.

She is also apparently well aware of what snakes in general think, and can report this to us in detail.

Yet she accuses Irwin of “self-delusion”!

Here too she does us a service. She demonstrates something about feminists in general: they do not follow accepted rules of logic or evidence. They just make things up. Not to put too fine a point on it, the most charitable interpretation is that they are simply insane.

Remember Andrea Dworkin’s conviction that she had been raped in her sleep in a locked Paris hotel room? Perhaps she believed it herself; but it shows either unbelievable arrogance or a real disconnect with reality to have made a public case of it.

Or how about Betty Freidan’s claim that her husband abused her? She later clarified: it turned out she had hit him. This is a word in which up can be down and black white, if that is what you really want.

Come to think of it, maybe feminists really can read the minds of snakes and crocodiles. Certainly, I cannot begin to figure out how their minds work. Perhaps I should accept their own word that they are working on the same moral and intellectual level.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

No Comment

A bit of humour from Buddy Whassisname:

Anglicans: Catholics once removed.

United Church: The guys who start their prayers with "To Whom It May Concern."

The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You

“The Kingdom of Heaven is among you.” Some translations have it “is within you.”

What does it mean? In what sense can we say that heaven is already right here, right now?

In a very obvious way.

If and when you or I, as individuals, accept and submit to the absolute sovereignty of God, the Kingdom of God exists, for us, in a literal sense. It is “within us.”

This is a crucial mental act, and it is not easy. No easier, say, than jumping off a cliff. It is what was once called “the leap of faith.”

It is, I think, also what Muslims mean by “Islam” itself—literally, “surrender.” Islam uses the image of becoming a slave; Christianity says, instead, “you must be as a little child,” wholly dependant on, trusting in, and obedient to, a parent.

To realize this kingdom of God, you must surrender to God as abjectly as one might who has been vanquished in the coliseum by the sword. God is God—and you’re not. To most of us, obvious as this truth is, it comes as a bitter shock.

I have heard that it is a common hallucination among the schizophrenic to imagine that God is chasing them, seeking to devour their viscera or scrape out their brain. The same image seems preserved in the image of Prometheus, chained to a mountaintop with an eagle picking at his liver. This is the image of human presumption.

The situation seems, to one in this predicament, hopeless, horrifying, and unjust. See Francis Thompson’s great poem “The Hound of Heaven.”

But salvation comes in accepting and welcoming it: in stopping, turning, and baring one’s neck. In the certain knowledge that one will be killed, for this is indeed certain: God kills each and every one of us, sooner or later.

It is only right and just to recognize and acknowledge that fleeing God is madness. What could be more obvious than that one cannot escape?

But then again, what could be more obvious than that, if he wanted to catch and devour us, it would have happened already? Why is he hounding us instead?

Could it be that he respects and loves us? That he wants us to submit of our own free will?

Submitting to God may seem unjust. But it is not, because it is not something he demands. We are driven to it, in fact, by our own free will, and our conscience. Our certainty that it is right and just. He is God, and we are not.

Given that obvious truth, not to submit to God utterly is, indeed, insanity. We exist, in any sense, by his leave. We owe everything to him.

Naturally enough, it is easiest to perform this mental act of submission if one is not particularly pleased with or proud of oneself. It is in this sense that, as Jesus says, the poor, the meek, and the mourning are blessed. It is easier for them. For the rich, the learned, the brilliant, the beautiful, the respected, it can be as difficult as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. You have that much more, you suppose, to lose.

But wait a minute—there is more. The original passage does not just say that this is the kingdom of God—it says the kingdom of heaven. This implies that, once you do this, you will have heaven inside you as well.

And this is quite true. This is what heaven is: one’s attention focused on God, the sense of God’s overwhelming presence. The same acknowledgement of God’s omnipotence realized in the submission to him, also automatically implies that he is in full control of all else. Nothing can happen unless he wills it to happen. This takes away, or ought to take away, all worries. Nothing bad can happen. The kingdom of God is complete in ourselves in the act of ourselves submitting to it.

Only those who can and do perform this mental act, to the extent that they do so, are sane. Do it, and everything else falls into place, in your thinking and in your personality and in your view of life. Everything aligns properly once this fundamental truth is grasped.

God has picked your brains and made them clean.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Google: Building a Better Yesterday

History junkies like me will be happy to hear that Google now offers a news archive search. Go to Google news, and choose “news archive search.” Or click here.

First off, I found a concise account of the leadership convention that chose John Diefenbaker. It was, apparently, the first Canadian leadership convention to be televised. It also notes that Diefenbaker refused to campaign for the position. Times have changed in this regard, and not for the better.

Unfortunately, the only archive Google has that seems to offer free access sans subscription is Time magazine.

This follows very quickly the launch of Google’s online book search, also fantastically useful for research. It essentially automatically indexes all the books in all the libraries included—necessarily, mind, only books that are already out of copyright. The potential here is mind-boggling.

I know it is fashionable these days to be suspicious of Google and to scoff at their business plan, but I think they’re both brilliant and a good bunch. Any comparison with Microsoft is off the mark: Microsoft’s existence has been a net drag on human progress. Google’s existence has been a clear net boon to date. Consider what has been opened up to researchers of all kinds in just the last week or so. Microsoft tried at all times to approach a monopoly. Google is probably incapable, by the nature of its core business, of doing the same: any attempt to restrict its searches to those who pay or play ball with them weakens their product against all opposition.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hitler: As Irish as the Pope

There have recently been attempts to rewrite history to blame Christianity for Hitler and the Nazis; Goldhagen’s Willing Executioners, featured in this spot recently, is one example. Canada’s own John Ralston Saul has made the same claim.

But Hitler was no “Christian.”

Rather, Nazism was a mockery of Christianity: Goebbels put out a “catechism” that read “What is the fist commandment of every National Socialist? Love Germany above all else and your ethnic comrade as yourself.” (The Nazi Conscience, p. 7). It could hardly be clearer from this parody of the New Testament that Nazism was setting itself up as a replacement for Christianity.

Himmler objected to the plans for a new Reichsbank building on the grounds that “the longitudinal and transverse wings had the shape of a Christian cross. This, he maintained, was … a veiled attempt on the part of the Catholic architect … to glorify the Christian religion.” (Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, p. 208). Which, apparently, God forbid. Churches, one Nazi Gauleiter explained to Speer, “were citadels of reaction that stood in the way of our revolution” (p. 429). Another planned to pull down Essen Cathedral.

Albert Speer reports that “amid his political associates in Berlin, Hitler made harsh pronouncements against the church.” (Inside the Third Reich, p. 148). “At the instigation of the party and the SS vast numbers of his followers had left the church.” (p. 149). Hitler’s dinner conversation involved “endless tirades on the Catholic Church.” (p. 163).

One thing in particular with which Hitler publicly tasked the Catholic Church was “its toleration of ‘pederasty and child abuse.’” (The Nazi Conscience, p. 255). Has an oddly familiar ring to it, doesn’t it?

The problem is, of course, that the Christian ethic requires Catholicism to forgive. Hitler, like the church’s modern critics, found precisely this intolerable—the forgiveness, the toleration. “You see it’s our misfortune to have the wrong religion…,” Hitler observed.. “Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?” (Hitler, quoted by Speer, p. 150).

After all, it was not as if Hitler cared about morality; just about weakness. He equally objected to the church’s “phony social morality,” and its “belief in the sanctity of human life.” Like the postmodernists today, he “denied universal morality” (The Nazi Conscience, p. 254). What was moral was whatever served the best interests of the race and the state.

Like modern New Agers, Hitler was a vegetarian and a fierce opponent of smoking. Like them, he felt that, among other things, “the body was neglected” in Christian tradition (Speer, p. 151). In open challenge to conventional Christian morality, Nazi officials designed recreational facilities for German workers that included bordellos for prostitutes (Speer, p. 211). Goering announced that any Stormtrooper was free to rape any Jewish woman found on the streets after dark—hardly a matter of sexual repressiveness. “Any Jewish girl or woman who is on the streets after dark may be assaulted by any Stormtrooper without fear of punishment” (The Nazi Conscience, p. 39).

It would have gotten worse for the Church had Hitler won his war. He told his intimates, in Speer’s presence, that “Once I have settled my other problems, I’ll have my reckoning with the church. I’ll have it reeling on the ropes” (p. 184). In the Nazi plans for the new postwar Berlin, churches were to be allowed no building sites (Speer, p. 254).

It is the modern critics of the Catholic Church, clearly, who are continuing the Hitlerian tradition.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Work Outside the Home? What Home?

Apparently, it has taken sociology only forty years or so to discover the obvious: that having wives and mothers work outside the home is bad not only for the children, but for the marriage.

Why wouldn't it be so? There is something to be said not only for division of labour--the foundation, after all, of civilization itself--and for taking care of one another as a natural expression of love. The symbiosis of male and female has to do with a lot more than having sex.

According to a recent piece in Forbes magazine, reviewing the research to date, “professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it.”

And get this nugget: “A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a ‘feminist’ outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.”

This means that the feminist drive to equal pay for women ensures that 50% of marriages are going to be unhappy on this factor alone.

The incidence of divorce is far higher when both spouses work. The more hours the wife works, the more likely the divorce; whether the husband works longer or shorter hours or not does not seem to matter.

Meantime, consider this: a good marriage means a higher income, a longer, healthier life, and better-adjusted, healthier, brighter children. Conversely, a failed marriage means a lower income—on average, a 77% drop in net worth—a shorter, sicker life, and badly-adjusted, sicker, less intelligent children.

Whatever else it has done, good or bad, this is one demonstrable heritage of feminism—for both men and women.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hillary's Everest

A recent piece in the Times (of London) Online suggests that Hillary Clinton may back out of her presidential bid.

I find this plausible. I think she is unlikely even to win the nomination.

To begin with, she is in the difficult situation of being the early frontrunner. Democrats hate frontrunners, and almost always eat them alive. This perhaps has to do with their self-perception as champions of society’s underdogs.

At least as deadly, in her strategic move to the centre in order to make herself more electable, she has painted herself into a hawk, particularly on Iraq. And she, and we, have just seen Joe Lieberman go down to defeat in his own party’s primary on this issue. She is now going to be, at best, a divisive figure even within her own party. The field is wide open for another Democratic candidate to pillory her on this from the left.

Polls suggest she now has more negatives than any other major candidate on either side. If she won the nomination, it might be a Democratic bloodbath on the order of Chicago in ‘68. For the sake of the party, she should probably stand aside.


***

I note that, in a recent issue, The Economist has promoted Jean-Marie Le Pen, whom they used to formulaically refer to as a “thug,” to “that wily old trooper.”

It is all reminiscent of Ionesco’s play, “Rhinoceros.”

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Newfoundland Tricolour

I just last night learned an amazing bit of Canadian history, something of which we should be proud. But perhaps there are many other Canadians who, like me, had never heard this. I learned that the flag of Ireland is based on the traditional Newfoundland tricolour--I had assumed the influence was the other way around. But no, the Newfoundland flag, of green, white, and pink, originated in 1843. The Irish flag, green, white, and orange, dates from 1922--and was designed by a man whose father was from Newfoundland.

This summer, I was in Turkey, and visited the Gallipoli battlefields. These have become a national shrine to Australians and New Zealanders, who arrive each summer in their tens of thousands. But one Australian who toured them with me expressed chagrin that he had never learned, in his history classes back home, that the Turkish commander facing his countrymen was the great Kemal Mustafa Ataturk, who became the founder of modern Turkey. He discovered that he had always been told only one side of the story.

For my part, though, my greatest surprise was to discover that beside the Australians and New Zealanders on the Gallipoli beaches stood the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Granted, there were far fewer men involved; but I, as a Canadian, in hearing much about Gallipoli and the sacrifices of the Australians and New Zealanders, had never heard that there were incipient Canadians involved.

But that's Canada; our history texts tend to the opposite flaw from those of other countries. We ignore our own history in favour of that of other lands.

One more striking example: for a few years in Toronto, I had an apartment that was almost across the street from the site of the Battle of York in the War of !812. This was a significant engagement: the Americans won, and burned down the Upper Canadian capital. It was in retaliation that the British Navy took Washington and burned down the presidential mansion, ever after called the "White House" --reputedly from the whitewash used to cover the scorch marks.

But it took a good bit of research on my part to discover this. There is no monument; not even a plaque. Or rather, there is a monument--to the Katyn Massacre. On this site of a crucial event in Canadian history, our city fathers had seen fit to put instead a memorial to a massacre of Poles in Russia.

This is the Canadian colonial mentality: nothing is important unless it happens outside Canada. Today, we call this "multiculturalism." But it is just Gallipoli over again. Deaths do not matter if they happen in the colonies, to colonials.

It's time we flew our own flags.