“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"No Mosque Here." - Geert Wilders at Ground Zero on 9-11

Christopher Hitchens: It isn’t just Islam

Christopher Hitchens September 8, 2010 – 8:00 am

A recent blizzard of liberal columns has framed the debate over American Islam as if it were no more than the most recent stage in the glorious history of our religious tolerance. This phrasing of the question has the (presumably intentional) effect of marginalizing doubts and of lumping any doubters with the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings, the anti-Semites and other bigots and shellbacks. So I pause to take part in a thought experiment, and to ask myself: Am I in favour of the untrammeled “free exercise of religion”?

No, I am not. Take an example close at hand, the absurdly named Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More usually known as the Mormon church, it can boast Glenn Beck as one of its recruits. He has recently won much cheap publicity for scheduling a rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington. But on the day on which the original rally occurred in 1963, the Mormon church had not yet gotten around to recognizing black people as fully human or as eligible for full membership. (Its leadership subsequently underwent a “revelation” allowing a change on this point, but not until after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.) This opportunism closely shadowed an earlier adjustment of Mormon dogma, abandoning its historic and violent attachment to polygamy. Without that doctrinal change, the state of Utah was firmly told that it could not be part of the Union. More recently, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney had to assure voters that he did not regard the prophet, or head of the Mormon church, as having ultimate moral and spiritual authority on all matters. Nothing, he swore, could override the U.S. Constitution. Thus, to the extent that we view latter-day saints as acceptable, and agree to overlook their other quaint and weird beliefs, it is to the extent that we have decidedly limited them in the free exercise of their religion.

One could cite some other examples, such as those Christian sects that disapprove of the practice of medicine. Their adult members are generally allowed to die while uttering religious incantations and waving away the physician, but, in many states, if they apply this faith to their children — a crucial element in the “free exercise” of religion — they can be taken straight to court. Not only that, they can find themselves subject to general disapproval and condemnation.

It was probably the latter consideration that helped impel the majority of American Orthodox Jews to give up the practice of metzitzah b’peh, a radical form of male circumcision that is topped off, if you will forgive the expression, by the sucking of the infant’s penis by the rabbi or mohel so as to remove any remaining blood or debris. A few tiny sects still cling to this disgusting ritual, which in New York a few years ago led to a small but deadly outbreak of herpes among recently circumcised babies. On that occasion, despite calls for a ban on the practice from many Jewish doctors, the vastly overrated Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose an election year to say that such “free exercise” should not be interfered with.

We talk now as if it was ridiculous ever to suspect Roman Catholics of anything but the highest motives, yet by the time John F. Kennedy was breaking the unspoken taboo on the election of a Catholic as president, the Vatican had just begun to consider making public atonement for centuries of Jew-hatred and a more recent sympathy for fascism. Even today, many lay Catholics are appalled at the Vatican’s protection of men who are sought for questioning in one of the gravest of all crimes: the organized rape of children. It is generally agreed that the church’s behaviour and autonomy need to be modified to take account both of American law and American moral outrage. So much for the naive invocation of “free exercise.”

One could easily go on. The Church of Scientology, the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon and the Ku Klux Klan are all faith-based organizations and are all entitled to the protections of the First Amendment. But they are also all subject to a complex of statutes governing tax-exemption, fraud, racism and violence, to the point where “free exercise” in the third case has — by means of federal law enforcement and stern public disapproval — been reduced to a vestige of its former self.

Now to Islam. It is, first, a religion that makes very large claims for itself, purporting to be the last and final word of God and expressing an ambition to become the world’s only religion. Some of its adherents follow or advocate the practice of plural marriage, forced marriage, female circumcision, compulsory veiling of women and censorship of non-Muslim magazines and media. Islam’s teachings generally exhibit suspicion of the very idea of church-state separation. Other teachings, depending on context, can be held to exhibit a very strong dislike of other religions, as well as of heretical forms of Islam. Muslims in America, including members of the armed forces, have already been found willing to respond to orders issued by foreign terrorist organizations. Most disturbingly, no authority within the faith appears to have the power to rule decisively that such practices, or such teachings, or such actions, are definitely and utterly in conflict with the precepts of the religion itself.

Reactions from even “moderate” Muslims to criticism are not uniformly reassuring. “Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s,” Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told The New York Times. (Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like.) What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness.

Those who wish that there would be no mosques in America have already lost the argument: Globalization, no less than the promise of American liberty, mandates that the United States will have a Muslim population of some size. The only question, then, is what kind, or rather kinds, of Islam it will follow. There’s an excellent chance of a healthy pluralist outcome, but it’s very unlikely that this can happen unless, as with their predecessors on these shores, Muslims are compelled to abandon certain presumptions that are exclusive to themselves. The taming and domestication of religion is one of the unceasing chores of civilization. Those who pretend that we can skip this stage in the present case are deluding themselves and asking for trouble not just in the future but in the immediate present.

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  1. That lady doing the intro is Pam Geller of Atlas Shrugs.

  2. Wilders looks to have four bodyguards.

    I'd read he wasn't being protected very well.

  3. Oh my... They allowed a JEWISH WOMEN to Leader the protest!

    How is that possible, after all our resident experts tell us that Jewish women are laid up in hospitals having abortions by the score....

  4. He should be leader of the Netherlands and may well be one day.

  5. Pam Geller, recently having 11 abortions herself, had the strength to write a blog, all the while being denied the right to pray at the Men's Steam bath in Yonkers...

    All the Men agree however, that Pam was welcome to the shvitz anytime... sans clothes...

    By the way Pam LIKES men, a real women....

    yeah baby


    Women and Tallit
    Mitzvah - Tallit for Women
    Due to women's unique role, they are exempt from any mitzvah which has a time contingency. This includes: hearing the Shofar (for the mitzvah is only on Rosh Hashanah), Lulav and Etrog (Sukkot), saying the Shema (morning and night), wearing a tallit, etc. Although women are exempt from all these Mitzvot, many women perform them anyway. Women hear the Shofar, say Shema and wear a Tallit. In the case of a tallit, some of them wear a special tallit for women. It is not the black & white tallit for men but colorful tallit for women made of silk, cotton or wool.

    Women are exempt from tzitzit (wearing a tallit) too, for the obligation to wear tzitzit is only during the daytime. But wearing a tallit for women is different from all the abovementioned mitzvot, for tallit is not mandatory for men either. The Torah only says that if you happen to wear a four-cornered garment, then you must put fringes on the corners. Therefore, for a woman to wear tallit is considered hubris, and is considered improper.

    Obviously, the fact that women are exempt from the mitzvah of wearing a tallit demonstrates that due to their heightened spiritual awareness they do not require a constant reminder to remind them to observe the mitzvot!

  7. I think she's the cat's pajamas.

    Time for a sleeping pill, got a big day tomorrow.

    Idaho plays Nevada/Las Vegas this weekend here, we're going, whole family.

    The chillin' are going to a Smashing Pumpkins concert on Tuesday in Spokane.


  8. Smashing Pumpkins - man, they must be getting pretty old now.

  9. Marc Daniels, Lawn and Garden industry insider and campaign director of the Weed Out Hate Initiative, traveled to Jerusalem on Tuesday, September 7(th) to solicit the support of noted international correspondent Ulrich Sahm, one of the most respected members of the International Press Corps in Israel.


    "I have a dream that the people of New York, the people of this country, and the people of the world can shift their gaze from lower Manhattan, uptown to Central Park. Let us dream that all the world's children descend upon the Sheep Meadow and together, like lion and lamb, weed out hate for themselves and for the rest of us.

    As they weed out their seeds of hate, and as they cultivate our great park, may their weed heaps of hatred grow into hillocks of hope, and may their knolls of knowledge mature into mountains of righteousness -- monuments of virtue so grand that they will surpass the heights of the Twin Towers themselves. Let these mountains of hope demonstrate our resolve -- first to ourselves and then to those who would attempt to destroy us -- that such an outpouring of communal goodwill would send an unforgettable message that they cannot and will not win.

    Weed Out Hate Initiative


    Mental Health Break at 4:20 PM.

    That is awesome.

  11. Here's what Geert is fighting against, among other things-----

    Sharia Degradation of Women

    Things don't sound so good in 'Palestine'. Or most anywhere else in the muzzie world.

    Trish that was neat. When I think my aunt and dad saw it all. They could have started with the horse and buggy. From there to the moon they saw it all. It is amazing.

    My aunt was born 1899. They didn't have a car till much later.

    Back to bed.

  12. Its not just shariah, the Koran is, in addition to being the Muslim Holy Book, is also their Constitutional text. As such, a practicing Muslim who interprets the Koran literally, can never live in a pluralistic, multicultural, multi-religious society. Why? Because to be a "true Muslim" he must live in a land where the law is shariah! IOW, if the land in which he lives currently does not have shariah, then the Muslim population will become a cancer that will grow and metastasize to ultimately/eventually kill the host!

    Unless Islam wholesale rewrites the Koran (what are the chances of that happening?), we all non-Muslims have a huge problem!