Thursday, August 31, 2006

Covenant Zone weekly meeting

A heads up that tonight's weekly meeting is going ahead after all.
The Atrium of the Vancouver Public Library, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm, to discuss
the issues raised on our blog.

As ever, we'll be the ones sporting the blue scarves and bandanas, to help identify ourselves
to each other, and to you.

See you there!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Whitewashed Tom Sawyer converts to Islam

Interesting approach to multiculturalism going on in Turkey, a country aspiring to enter the European Union:

Pinocchio and friends converted to Islam

Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer and other characters have been converted to Islam in new versions of 100 classic stories on the Turkish school curriculum.
"Give me some bread, for Allah's sake," Pinocchio says to Geppetto, his maker, in a book stamped with the crest of the ministry of education.
"Thanks be to Allah," the puppet says later.

In The Three Musketeers, D'Artagnan is told that he cannot visit Aramis. The reason would surprise the author, Alexandre Dumas.
An old woman explains: "He is surrounded by men of religion. He converted to Islam after his illness."
Tom Sawyer may always have shirked his homework, but he is more conscientious in learning his Islamic prayers. He is given a "special treat" for learning the Arabic words.

Pollyanna, seen by some as the embodiment of Christian forgiveness, says that she believes in the end of the world as predicted in the Koran.
Heidi, the Swiss orphan girl in the tale by Johanna Spyri, is told that praying to Allah will help her to relax.
Several more books have been altered, including La Fontaine's fables and Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

[The government is outraged, and will be swinging into action... not out of concern for literary heritage, but because some of the books contain sly insults to the government.]

Other books contain insults, slang and rude rhymes which mock the president and the prime minister.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is Turkey's first Islamic premier, has called for swift action to be taken against the publishers.
The education ministry has threatened to take legal action against any publisher which continues to issue such books.
Huseyin Celik, the education minister, said: "If there are slang and swear words, we will sue them for using the ministry logo."...

This story puts previous news from Turkey in a potentially new light. Recently another mainstay of western litterature was banned for being the "wrong version"

Turkey seizes Pippi Longstocking in Kurdish

Over 1,000 books about Pippi Longstocking, the world-famous fictional children's character, translated into Kurdish have been seized by Turkish authorities in Istanbul, the Swedish news agency TT said Thursday.
The shipment was impounded because it lacked the documentation required by Turkish customs authorities and did not have the necessary license from the Turkish education ministry, TT said.
The 1,208 books, including 25 different Pippi titles, were sent August 7 from Sweden by Komak, an organization that runs an education project for Kurds in Turkey, TT said.
The books had been set for delivery to libraries in five Kurdish villages.

Flagrant disrespect for western cultural tradition: I guess as far as Europe's elite governing class are concerned, they'll be even more convinced that Turkey is fully prepared to join the EU!

Is Britain a greater security threat than Iran?

A busy week is keeping us from our usual rounds of blogging, but I just couldn't pass up noting this article from the UK.
(thanks to Hodja at Infidel Bloggers Alliance)

Britain now presents a greater security threat to the United States than Iran or Iraq, an American magazine said yesterday.
In an article on Islamists headlined "Kashmir on the Thames", the New Republic painted Britain's Muslim communities as a breeding ground for violent extremism.
Citing recent opinion poll evidence suggesting that one in four British Muslims believed that last year's London Tube bombings were justified, the magazine said: "In the wake of this month's high-profile arrests, it can now be argued that the biggest threat to US security emanates not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather from Great Britain, our closest ally."
The claim is the latest in a series of hostile reassessment of Britain by Americans in the wake of the alleged plot to bring down transatlantic airliners.
Other publications and the think-tanks that shape public debate in America have also issued stern criticism both of Britain's Muslims and of the Government. Nile Gardiner, of the Right-wing Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that Americans were coming to view Britain as "a hornet's nest of Islamic extremists" and thought it posed ''a direct security threat to the US".

A major concern would be the tightening of travel restrictions unless the authorities start to crack down on Islamist militancy," he said. More than four million Britons enter America annually using the visa waiver programme. Any change would force Britons wishing to visit the US into lengthy queues at American diplomatic missions.
Mr Gardiner said the issue had not yet acquired a head of steam in Congress, but that another plot, or a "successful" attack by British Muslims on an American target, would be likely to spur an immediate response.
Investor's Business Daily has already demanded an end to the programme because it "allows Pakistani Britons to dodge security background checks".
Much of the outraged American response this month was sparked by the call from Muslim leaders for a change in British foreign policy. The letter from six Muslim MPs and 38 community leaders said "current British Government policy risks putting civilians at increased risk both in the UK and abroad".
The theme was taken up by the Wall Street Journal, which said: "It is typical of some of Britain's so-called moderate Muslims, who seem less concerned with fighting extremists in their midst than in excusing them."
The newspaper went on to attack Tony Blair's government for "cultivating and promoting such pseudo-moderate Muslim organisations". The BBC and the Foreign Office, described as "a preserve of Arabists", were also lambasted both for quoting extremists and allowing them into Britain.

Maybe if enough people throughout the west are ticked off by sufficient inconveniences, such as standing in lengthy queues, they will finally stop accepting the growth of fundamentalist islam without having to be picked off by sufficient bomb-making expertise of those self-same fundamentalists.

The original New Republic piece referenced by the article is here, but behind a registration curtain.

Monday, August 28, 2006

"You can't assimilate with a nullity"

Another great contribution from Mark Steyn, courtesy of Scott at Crusader:

A friend of mine did a satirical play in England a couple of years ago, he's an old leftie, very anti-Iraq war, so in his show he had Bush and Blair come out and sing 'we're sending you a cluster bomb from Jesus' ... ha-ha, very funny. Well how about if you have a couple of Imams dancing around singing 'we're sending you a schoolgirl bomb from Allah'.
Well oddly enough, my pal was far more reluctant to do that, on the reasonable grounds that unlike insulting Christianity, if you insult certain other faiths, a far more motivated crowd is likely to be waiting for you at the stage door.
Multiculturalism seems to operate to the same even-handedness as the old Cold War joke, in which the American tells the Soviet that 'in my country, everyone is free to criticise the President' and the Soviet guy replies 'same here! In my country everyone is free to criticise your President'. Under the rules, as understood by the New York Times, the West is free to mock and belittle its Judeo-Christian inheritance, and likewise, the Muslim world is free to mock and belittle the West's Judeo-Christian inheritance.

If one had to choose, on balance, Islam's loathing of other cultures seems psychologically less damaging than the Western elite's loathing of their own.

Now I have a great sympathy for Muslims that face demands that they assimilate; it's on the front pages of all the newspapers in London this weekend. Even if you wanted to, even if you wanted to, how would you assimilate with say, Canadian national identity? You can't assimilate with a nullity, which is what the modern multicultural state boils down to. It's much easier to dismantle a society than put anything new and lasting in it place. And across much of the developed world, that's what's going on right now.

The advantage for the US and for Australia, and to a lesser extent other parts of the English-speaking world, is that Europe, in its civilisational exhaustion, is ahead in the line, and its fate might wake up even the most blinkered on this side of the continent.

Read the rest, it's worth it.

Mark Steyn is a terrific columnist, but I think he's an even more effective speaker. There's an insistence in his voice that makes the points he underlines all the more powerful. I've been listening to him as a weekly guest on the Hugh Hewitt radio show for .... gosh, can it be two years now?... and he's usually a highlight of the broadcast week.
Here are some recent appearances of Steyn's on Hewitt's show:

Thursday August 3rd

Thursday July 27th

Apparently he filled in for Rush Limbaugh's radio show one day last week? Did anyone hear how he did? I usually only tune in to Rush when I know that Walter Williams is filling in, because that means a talk with Thomas Sowell, one of my favorite writers; what a thrill it must have been to get a 3-hour dose of Steyn..!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Searching for the Golden Mean in turning the other cheek to militant islam

"If a man finds that his nature tends or is disposed to one of these extremes..., he should turn back and improve, so as to walk in the way of good people, which is the right way.
The right way is the mean in each group of dispositions common to humanity; namely, that disposition which is equally distant from the two extremes in its class, not being nearer to the one than to the other."
— Maimonides on The Golden Mean

Our battle against islamist aggression is made so much greater by the struggle it entails we engage in within ourselves; as the muslim moderates might put it, we undertake a "jihad", an "inner struggle" to resist the temptation to descend to the barbaric level of our opponents.

Thinking about the long future of our conflict with militant islam, surely the most frightening implications we face concern the brutal steps we might have to take to defend and preserve our values. The moral dilemma we struggle under, is that to sustain our values, we seem destined to forsake them, if we are to win through to absolute victory.
With every human shield, with every mother willing to use their children as ammunition, with every protest in our streets calling for the extermination of the jews, our ideological enemy raises the bar for our personal struggle not to become as savage as they are in our response to their savagery.

In reading Matthew the other day, I pondered long and hard over the admonition to turn the other cheek. Years ago it was one of the statements that turned me away from my faith; it seemed such a senseless piece of advice, not designed for "the real world". With the passing years, the know-it-all teenager became (hopefully) a bit more of a humbled man, as I got to spend a bit more time living in that real world; now I frequently find myself returning to this advice I had long found so challenging, and try to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Truth must be sensible, so where might be the sense in turning the other cheek to terrorists?

I guess understanding this passage comes down to understanding language itself. The advice is given in the language of man so that it can be clear to man, in the form of stories; like language itself, the advice is amorphous, designed to be followed in principle, not in rule, adaptable so that as circumstances change, we can change to meet them; we can measure it in long-term policy, not just short-term act. We don't literally "turn the other cheek", we figuratively search for a way to respond in a dignified manner. It's not about ignoring evil, or never resisting it's effect on us. It's about responding to evil in ways that are still dignified, civilized, and holy.

For our dignity to remain undiminished by our response, we need a brutal amount of honesty, because we desperately need clarity and truth in order to meet our obligations to do The Right Thing. The extreme of doing nothing to protect ourselves devalues our dignity, because it presumes that there is nothing to defend. That to me, it is even worse than doing too much, responding too heavy-handedly; at least we can atone for mistakes made through the latter approach, whereas the paralysis of the former surely dooms a correction as coming too little too late.
Finding a balanced response, a Golden Mean between the two extremes, of killing everybody and killing no one (the solution of the "peace-keeping" crowd), needs honesty. To arrive at our desired destination, we need moral clarity about the true point of departure. The stories of recent air passenger reactions to muslims on their flights shows us that the honest dialog we've been avoiding in our public arena, needs to be addressed, and lost time made up for... otherwise who can predict how far the pendulum will swing to the other extreme in a hastened attempt to redress grievances?
If we're to find the right balance, we'll need all the help we can get, so let's learn from the experience of those who have been traveling down this road long before we have.
India, for instance, has been under assault for ... well, when have they not been under assault by militant islam? The swinging pendulum of doing too much or too little is addressed in a recent editorial in India's Hindustan Times, brutally honest in order to find a more dignified response to brutality itself:

Blackening our conscience

Two things need to be said about the incident on board a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Bombay. One of them is self-evident and will, I think, meet with widespread agreement. The second is as self-evident but will, I suspect, be greeted with greater scepticism.
The first is that, no matter what spin the Dutch authorities and the US marshals on board who ordered the plane to be turned back give to the incident, what happened was clearly an instance of racism and religious prejudice.
It is all very well to say that the passengers suspected of terrorism were behaving suspiciously. But what did they actually do?
Judging by what the Dutch police are now saying the men changed seats, called out loudly to each other and attempted to speak on their mobile phones (though how they got a signal at that height is not explained).Such behaviour can be irritating. But is it suspicious enough to give rise to such paranoia? To have an entire aircraft turned around?
The real reason why the US marshals sprung into action was the ethnic and religious origin of the passengers. Firstly, they were brown. And secondly, they were Muslims.
Imagine for a moment that the passengers in question were white Americans ... would the US marshals have been as suspicious?
Forget about nationality. Suppose the 12 men who called out loudly to each other were white. Would there have been any panic? Would anyone have regarded them as potential terrorists? I think the answers are obvious.
It is the second point I want to make today that I suspect will be a little more controversial.
Imagine for a moment that there had been a terrorist alert on a train in India. Assume now that the police had been called in and had taken 12 Muslims into custody. What do you suppose would have happened next?
I’ll tell you. The Home Secretary of the state in question would have called a press conference to declare that a terrorist cell, possibly linked to the Lashkar or the Jaish, had been apprehended even as it was minutes away from blowing up the Rajdhani/Shatabdi Express.
The men would have been taken to the police station and placed in indefinite custody under one pretext or the other... Police teams would have fanned out all over India to raid their homes and their offices. Their neighbours would have been questioned. If they owned shops, these would have been shut down.
At some stage, when the interrogation yielded no concrete leads, the men would have been beaten up. Their families would have been threatened. At least one of them would have been broken so completely that he would have signed his name to any confession that the police had produced.
Do you think this is far-fetched? Am I being too harsh on the Indian system?All right. Just look at our recent history. Forget for a moment about the Islamic terrorist angle because that still provokes strong emotions. Think back instead to the Punjab agitation.
Do you remember a time when every Sikh who drove through Haryana on his way to Delhi was stopped and hassled by the police? When every Sikh who tried to board an aircraft was treated as a potential hijacker and forced to submit to the most humiliating searches?
And that’s just the people who could afford to buy plane tickets and drive their own cars. Poor Sikhs got an even worse deal.
Remember the detenues in Jodhpur jail? Remember the time when every Sikh pilgrim who was caught in the crossfire during the botched military operation that was Bluestar was treated as a potential terrorist and arrested? Remember how many of them protested that they were harmless pilgrims who had come to the Harminder Sahib not realising that the Indian army was on its way to blow up the Akal Takht?
Every family in every village in the Punjab had some story about police brutality during that era. Everybody knows somebody who was arrested falsely during those days. And everybody has heard of some innocent man who died during a police encounter and was later described as a ‘deadly terrorist’.
Fast forward now to the Bombay blasts in 1993. Nobody in his right mind can defend those terrorist acts. Nor can anyone deny that the police had a right to launch a comprehensive investigation into the people who assisted the bombers.
But speak to anybody who lives in Bhendi Bazaar or on Mohammad Ali Road. Listen to their stories of how the Bombay police — clearly communalised during that era — went from house to house dragging out the sons even as the mothers wept and wailed. Hear about the bribes that were extracted from innocent Muslims by corrupt policemen who threatened them with arrest unless they paid up.
Some of this went on under the TADA laws but many of those arrested were actually charged with crimes that they had never committed. Coolies who unloaded the explosives that were used for the Bombay blasts without knowing what was in the packages were picked up and thrown into jail. Hundreds of Muslims who may have had some nodding acquaintance with people who knew somebody who knew one of the bombers were arrested and charged with terrorism.
It is all very well to say that we are a society where the rule of law prevails. But just look at the progress of the Bombay blasts case — and this is before a special court so none of the usual arguments about judicial backlogs apply — where the verdict has still to be announced 13 years after the blasts themselves.
In the interim, witnesses have disappeared, some of the accused have died, whole families have been ruined and lives have been destroyed.
But at least the Bombay police didn’t go around shooting everybody — in those days. Consider how other police forces have handled so-called terrorist threats.
Who can forget the cold-blooded murder of two men in the parking lot of Ansal Plaza by the Delhi police? It is possible that the men were terrorists and I also grant that there is widespread public support for encounters as part of the fight against terrorism. But isn’t there something worrying about a society where policemen can drive two suspects into a public area, shoot them in front of witnesses and then claim they have foiled a terrorist plot to blow up Diwali shoppers?
So much for the rule of law.
I could go on. What about the five men who were described as the terrorists responsible for the Chattisinghpura massacre? When the bodies were exhumed after public pressure they were shown to have been innocent civilians who had been murdered by men in uniform.
So, let’s not get too self-righteous about the Dutch or about the US marshals. Yes, of course, they over-reacted. And, yes, there is no doubt that white people would not have been regarded with the same degree of suspicion.
But let’s also recognise that the West ... does function on the basis of the rule of law. The Indians who had been wrongly detained from the Northwest flight were set free. And it was made clear that they had no terrorist links. When the British police killed an innocent Brazilian on a tube train and tried to lie about the circumstances of the shooting, the media exposed the truth and the government ordered an inquiry, which uncovered the lies.
In India, alas, we are so terrified of terrorism and organised crime that we allow the police to do pretty much what they want. When the HT exposed the Ansal Plaza murders, we were called anti-national and it was suggested that we were on the side of the terrorists. Anybody who raises questions about the behaviour of the authorities in the battle against terrorism is regarded as unpatriotic. Can you think of a single democratic country where there would be no public outrage about the scandal that is the delayed trial in the Bombay blasts case? But in India we choose to gloss over it, claiming that all this is necessary to fight terror.
Only now, as we become victims of the anti-terror paranoia simply because we are brown, do we realise how great the injustice can be. What a shame then that we reserve our indignation for the West — and ignore the blood in our own backyard.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Covenant Zone: exploring the sting of conscience

We survived our weekly gathering last night, and what a very illuminating meeting it was.

Interesting to compare notes about the recent controversy over liberal MP Wrzesnewskyj's pro-hezbollah remarks. It's Push Comes To Shove time for many on the left, in an interesting parallel to the stings of conscience that befell the European colonial powers in the 20th century. I think particularly of the manner in which Britain left India, since that nation's Independance Day is still fresh in our minds: an appeal to conscience, not economics, was the tipping point and the leverage found to budge the english.
Liberalism's citadel of steel turns out to be built on sand, as it now slowly sinks under the weight of recent events in the Middle East, increasingly stripped of its illusory justifications for moral relativism. Their shining city on a hill, turns out to be a mere sand castle, washed away by the arrival of the morning tide.

The left's ongoing attempts to prop up certain groups as victims worthy of ennoblement is a hard fantasy to maintain when videos of throats getting slit are being filmed or downloaded by members of those groups. Many on the left are finally being forced to confront the logical and moral consequences of the rhetoric they've been preaching for many years. How fitting that those who place such great stock in "gestures" and "appearances", now appear exposed by their gestures. What are feminists and homosexuals and and separatists and unions doing supporting hezbollah, and by tacit extention, Iran, for instance? How do the islamist groups the left endorse, interact with their cultural counterparts? The dishonesty of their stand is exposed for all to see, since in some instances, islamic culture doesn't even allow for a cultural counterpart to exist (any gay pride parades in Iran that I may have missed...?) and finally they themselves are starting to see it. We're starting to see who on the left is motivated by a sincere belief to do good, and who just wanted to look good in order to hide the defects they feared confronting in their mirror.

Dag had some striking comments on pacifism that I found very provocative; it got me to thinking, that some pacifists defer violence into a reluctantly undertaken last response to contact with the real world, while others, who profess to be the most pacifistic, end up using violence as their first response, as the necessary defence for a worldview that cannot withstand contact with the real world. I nominate the United States of America as an example of the former, and those who would march in protest against Israel, as examples of the latter.

Some people just cannot deal with the sting of their conscience, because such stimulus reveals to them that they actually have a consciousness, a piece of themselves existing outside the physical and material, and that it shines a light on the path that their physical and material selves should be following; conscience can be a hard taskmaster, in that it expects a constant series of judgements, not just one judgement one time. It is our conscience that reminds us of the possibility of changing circumstances: things do not remain frozen, "life goes on", and we must adapt to these changes if we are to continue to survive.
Ignoring one's conscience for but a moment can be a painful experience indeed, and the longer it is ignored the more the pain accumulates. What we're seeing with liberalism's current apocalypse, if I may borrow Truepeers' expression, is the price being paid for this lifetime of avoidance.
Above all else, the current war on civilization seems to reveal that some people are so incapable of living with change that they would prefer to be dead than proven wrong.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Liberalism is collapsing all around us

Charles' latest post, just below, is only more evidence for the notion that an apocalypse - which is an unveiling and revealing of the historical purpose and destiny - of liberalism is now under way. What comes next? How can we transcend one order, while preserving what is good and necessary in it, and help bring about the next in a manner that serves our nation best? This is a question I'll raise at this Thursday's Covenant Zone/Blue Scarf Meeting, 7-9 pm, the atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library (we're the guys in front of Blenz). If you can, please join us.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Are Liberals re-balancing their views on Israel and hezbollah..?

When Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper first took his principled stand to support Israel during the recent Middle East war, there was a rush to condemn him for his "out of the mainstream" position. Polls, pundits and practicalities were put forward to prove all the many reasons why this was a dumb political move, often without even a rueful acknowledgment establishing the moral justification for Harper's position.
This week the candidates jockeying for leadership of the Liberals, our main opposition party, race to avoid being considered as pro-hezbollah. Maybe now they don't consider Harper's stand quite so "out of the mainstream" anymore..?

MP Wrzesnewskyj resigns over Hezbollah comments

Embattled Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj has resigned as deputy foreign affairs critic following the uproar over his comments suggesting Canada should negotiate with Hezbollah.
After the Toronto MP suggested the Mideast peace process would benefit from Canada being more open to talking to Hezbollah, Liberal leadership hopefuls Scott Brison and Carolyn Bennett had immediately demanded Wrzesnewskyj step down from his post, saying his comments were "unacceptable."
The comments quickly became the central topic of the three-day Liberal caucus retreat in Vancouver, which was supposed to be a strategy session for the upcoming session of Parliament.
All 10 leadership candidates condemned the remarks, including Wrzesnewskyj's preferred candidate Gerard Kennedy.
At a news conference Tuesday, [Conservative MP Jason Kenney] blasted Wrzesnewskyj, calling his comments nothing short of a sign of support for terrorist groups.
"Their idea of a balanced approach is one where Israel is always wrong," said Kenney. "This represents a totally irresponsible approach to foreign security policy."
Wrzesnewskyj, who was one of three opposition MPs on the Mideast mission, said Monday he favoured changing a Canadian law that forbids contact with known terrorist organizations.
He said the law undermines efforts to obtain lasting peace between Israel and Hezbollah fighters.
Wrzesnewskyj denied media reports that claimed he wants Hezbollah taken off Ottawa's official list of terrorist organizations.
"I've said all along that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and will continue to be," Wrzesnewskyj told reporters.
"Where I have difficulty is with the legislation that says a group on the list cannot be communicated with."


[What possible kind of communication was the Liberal MP expecting? This isn't a labor dispute that might end in a wildcat strike, or a child custody battle; it's a hate-fueled attack on a civilized people by a pack of barbaric savages, whose stated objective is to settle for nothing less than the obliteration of the nation of Israel. It's not about money, or material needs: it's about spiritual needs. On Israel's side, it is the conscientious struggle to survive and remain civilized while doing so, despite being surrounded by bloodthirsty maniacs hellbent on destroying them (stripping Israel of its civility in the process, through hiding behind human shields, among other evils), whereas for hezbollah it is an attempt to exterminate the neighborhood of every Israeli, and anyone sympathetic to them, so that they can postpone confronting the fatal flaws of their islamist belief system.
Survival, extermination; where's the middle ground to be negotiated for a "lasting peace"? Only killing some people, in accordance with a scheduled quota??
Thank God our prime minister continues to understand the "nuances" of the war which elude these deluded MPs...]

Harper says comparison of Hezbollah, Nazis is fair

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday it's not unfair to liken Hezbollah to the Nazis, who once ruled Germany, because both stand for the destruction of the ''Jewish nation.''
In an interview with CanWest News Service, Harper was asked if the comparison made earlier in the day by his parliamentary secretary Conservative MP Jason Kenney, was appropriate.

''Like all comparisons, it's true in some ways, and not in others,'' he said, ''but as near as I can tell, both Hezbollah and the Nazi party stand for the elimination of the Jewish nation. So I think that's pretty fundamental and, in that sense, I don't think it's unfair.

''I think those who associate themselves with Hezbollah in this country are operating beyond the pale, and they're frankly operating in defence of an organization that is an illegal criminal organization in this country," said Harper.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Blood and Treasure, and Home Movies

To understand why we are fighting in Afghanistan, and why we need to continue fighting there, we need to recognize who we are fighting.

Let's take a cultural phenomenon that we are all familiar with: making home movies. What motivates us, to buy a camera and film ourselves? What do we, in the west, choose to point the camera at, what do we wish to see?

Here's a good summary of our western approach to "home movies":

"Making movies can be a fun way to preserve your families’ event well into the future. Years later you will be happy that you videotaped a family Christmas event, or a birthday party, and will enjoy the ability to sit back and relive those memories again and again."

From Germany comes this report of what the enemy we fight in Afghanistan are doing with their camera equipment, and the ends to which they are using their time and money:

High-Res Executions and Bloody DVDs

...The man is 38-years-old and has only one leg -- war is his life. His name is Mullah Dadullah and he is considered the Taliban's second-in-command in Afghanistan. And he is a brutally savage man.

His victims lie on the ground, their hands tied behind their backs. The self-appointed holy warrior grabs one of the men by the hair and slits the "traitor's" throat. He does the same with the next. And the next. A total of six times. The butchered men are accused of having collaborated with the "infidels."
Death is their punishment.
....And the carnage is available for the world to watch. The act was recorded with a digital camera the resulting DVD is sold at markets in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and is also available on the Internet..
That the Internet has become a communication platform for terrorists -- as well as for their supporters and their adversaries -- is nothing new. These days, though, a close monitoring of the Web reveals the increasing brutality of the international jihadist movement.
[The images] also document the vulnerability of Western armies in the remote mountainous regions of Afghanistan and Iraq, together with the challenges they face in dealing with the realities of the countries in which they operate.
One of the sites even announces its terror videos as if they were entertainment. Global Islamic Media Front presents "Mujaheddin's Hidden Camera -- Blood Comedy."
In that video, the Russian diplomats kidnapped in Iraq on June 3 beg for their lives. But their appeals are in vain. Thirty seconds later, the men are brutally beheaded. The film goes on to show US soldiers collapsing in Iraq after being mortally wounded by snipers, Navy Seals being massacred in Kunar in eastern Afghanistan and military vehicles being blown up.
The credits read: "In the name of the merciful, oh Allah, let the shots hit their mark and strengthen our steps."
On their long marches through the forbidding landscape of the Hindukush, the Taliban wear old sandals and simple, traditional clothing, and carry nothing but light handguns. Their roadside bombs are handmade and they live in primitive mud huts. And yet, when it comes to technology, the Taliban are completely up-to-date. Their short films can be downloaded in various formats from Web sites, even onto mobile phones. And the chronicle of horror is constantly updated, with new material added daily from Afghanistan, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, Chechnya and Indonesia.


The Taliban terrorists show us that where one's treasure is, so is one's heart: we spend our time and money on the things that are the most important to us, actions speaking louder than words.

Instead of spending money on warmer clothing or better housing, they buy expensive camera equipment and improve the marketability of their "home movies".
It reminds me of an older german fellow, with a little hairbrush black mustache, who faced a two-front invasion of his nation, yet diverted trains that could have carried reinforcements and ammunition to the front, and instead used them to send jews to death camps.

We felt his war machine was worth fighting; are the Taliban any less worthy of fighting..?

"NO!", screams a recent public statement from the pro-suffering/anti-war group MAWO:

Self-Determination for Afghanistan!

According to Col. Tom Putt, deputy commanding officer of the Canadian Task Force Afghanistan the two deaths [of Canadian soldiers] are "the price Canada has to pay today for a brighter future for the people of Afghanistan,"
Contrary to what Col. Putt is alleging, this occupation is not bringing any future for Afghanistan. The death toll for Afghan people is many thousands. Thousands more are wounded and hundreds of thousands on top of that have been devastatingly impoverished and made into refugees. Schools are not functioning. Afghans have no control over the political process and state machinery that they need to create a future in the interest of the people of Afghanistan.
Stephen Harper met the deaths of the two Canadian soldiers with these comments, "we are proud of the men and women of the Canadian Forces, who continue to stand on guard for Canadian values around the world"
What the policy of the Stephen Harper and the Canadian Government has shown is that "Canadian values" include denying the democratic, political and legal rights of an entire country of people in Afghanistan. "Canadian values" mean military suppression of a resistance movement demanding their right to sovereignty. "Canadian values" mean air strikes, house raids, checkpoints, arrests and torture. No wonder that Afghan people have rejected Stephen Harper's "Canadian values"!
For Afghanistan to have a chance to build a future that will benefit the needs of Afghans, they first need self-determination. Occupation troops must immediately withdrawal and Afghans must be left to determine their own future.

Judging by the home movies broadcast by those attacking the "occupying forces", I wonder what kind of "self-determined future" MAWO envisions lies ahead for embattled Afghanistan..? Just which Afghans would have their "needs" served by withdrawing Canadian troops from Afghanistan: those wielding the knife, and filming the slaughter, or those teaching little girls how to read and write?
For despite what the NDP, MAWO and other "well-meaning" "peace" protestors wish to believe, these Afghans are not one and the same, it is one or the other.

Anyone who has ever watched the home movies taken by this "resistance movement demanding their right to sovereignty" might disagree with MAWO's description of events taking place in Afghanistan, and arrive at a different definition of "Canadian Values".
My values as a Canadian demand that I deny a barbarian the "right" to cut off a school-teacher's head, filming his cries for mercy, and broadcasting that home movie across the internet for the world to see.

It seems MAWO cannot say the same.

Withdrawing Canadian troops, at this time, is alien to Canadian Values, because of the deadly consequences that would befall that nation if we stop waging war against the Taliban.

Bravo to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for staying the course in Afghanistan, and an even greater cheer for our troops serving in that war-zone: their courage and commitment is inspiring, and absolutely honourable.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Feeling good about oneself vs doing good for others: victimary culture exposed at Toronto AIDS conference

Back in June of this year, as Vancouver played host to a "World Urban Forum", we at Covenant Zone blogged on the contribution of guest speaker Jockin Arputham, an award-winning activist who has devoted over 30 years of work in his own slum neighbourhood and others to improve services, education and housing. Arputham delivered a blistering critique of the conference itself, calling the self-serving activists "lip-service people", and denounced most attendees as being more interested in keeping the"poverty-conference industry" going, than of genuinely solving the problems of poverty in the Third World. "We request our friends throughout the world, especially the First World, to stop crying", and actually do something to help, instead of holding expensive conferences to talk about how much they all care.

A similar damning charge has emerged from this week's high-profile AIDS conference taking place in Toronto, Ontario.

Martin Sempa, "...who has struggled against HIV/AIDS in his home country for 16 years – through radio, college 'edutainment' rallies, research and advocacy and government policy formulation", exposes the moral shallowness of yet another group who, he claims,
"... don’t care about stopping HIV/AIDS but just about managing the disease, keeping it going so they can continue to profit.”

AIDS a Glamorous Multi-Billion Dollar Industry – Sufferers Forgotten

Huge profits for pharmaceutical and condom manufacturers, bottomless grants for researchers and NGO’s, publicity and money for research foundations, six-digit salaries for advertising executives and increasing fame for big name celebrities are creating a disincentive to actually stop the disease say some AIDS activists.
The “AIDS industry,” is a multi-billion dollar international enterprise now, and those who gather to enjoy lavish meals and hotels in Toronto this week, are more interested in “managing the disease” than in curing it or stopping its spread, says Martin Sempa, a leading AIDS fighter from Uganda.
[Sempa says] that the roving publicity circus that the annual International AIDS Conferences have become is a distraction from what is really happening in Africa and other countries blighted with the disease.
But worse than this, he says, they have become a vehicle for an inhuman leftist ideology under the guise of multi-million dollar philanthropy, a vehicle for a Hollywood-style celebrity cult and brazen anti-American political machine.
“It’s a multi-billion dollar industry,” he said. “Pharmaceuticals, condoms, counsellors, distributors, advertising executives, grants for fake human rights groups and celebrity status. If you have AIDS you can be a star if you promote their agenda. It’s become a disease of opportunity. If AIDS stopped today there would be millions of people who would stop getting an income.”
“I wouldn’t waste my time.” Sempa said when asked why he had not attended the Conference. “I didn’t want to spend good money on fancy hotels and expensive meals to have no one listen to me.

In Bangkok {2004}, the president of Uganda was booed {for promoting his country’s abstinence program}. It was a hostile social environment and not conducive to a free exchange of ideas. A single mention of abstinence makes them become rabid.”

A similar response apparently occured at the Toronto conference, during the opening remarks of billionaire Bill Gates:

[Bill] Gates briefly mentioned the controversial ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful and Condoms) program, the program of HIV/Aids prevention that is pushed internationally by the Bush Administration, and which has been employed with unprecedented success by the Ugandan government. “This approach,” said Gates, “has saved many lives, and we should expand it.”

The mere mention of the program, however, which focuses primarily on abstinence and faithfulness as the surest means of prevention, with condom-use as a distant last resort, provoked unanimous and energetic boos from the thousands of attendees.

The idea of lives being saved provokes loud boos from the attendees? Isn't the whole point of the AIDS conference, to save lives? Nope, suggest some of the attendees:

"This conference has been more of a Hollywood conference for philanthropists and stars than for people who are living with AIDS," said Sipho Mthathi, head of the South African group Treatment Action Campaign.
"We would like this to be registered by the International AIDS Society that we are quite aggrieved...."

...Ms. Mthathi said the hundreds of conference sessions featured too many celebrities and "professionals" -- scientists and government and agency officials largely from the Western countries least affected by the pandemic. Delegates from Africa, which has been ravaged by the disease, were seriously under-represented on the podiums, she said.

What is needed is a solution-based meeting that better incorporates the voices of patients and those on the front lines, and puts political pressure on countries like her own that have hindered the AIDS fight, Ms. Mthathi said.
Gregg Gonsalves of the AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa also created a stir at a special session with leading lights of the AIDS community, including Peter Piot, head of the UNAIDS agency.
"We have created a large infrastructure [around AIDS] that is largely unaccountable," he told the audience of hundreds. "No wonder things aren't getting better. We have designed the system to fail."
Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gates have been treated at the conference "like some kind of royalty," but it is activists on the ground who really make the difference, said Mr. Gonsalves.

It appears that the system isn't designed to "fail", so much as never actually succeed, since any measurable solution would disrupt the necessary stasis required to fuel the victimary religion of today's international left. So long as there can be individuals identified as "victims", there can exist the left's victim-and-victimizer view of the world.
The immorality of the left's position stops being a laughing matter once we hear from the suffering individuals who find themselves propped up or pointed to as if they were nothing more than museum pieces, rather than living beings actually aspiring to the humanity denied them by their leftist caretakers.
To be human, surely, involves the aspiration to better one's circumstances, through an increase in individual freedom, life expectancy, and personal wealth. Imagine having these universal aspirations sabotaged by others using your genuine suffering as an opportunity to make themselves feel better about themselves, even if it involves an irrelevant issue:

[Uganda AIDS activist Martin Sempa] said, “This movement doesn't think any more. It’s agenda based and driven. If you don’t like George Bush, attack the AIDS program in Africa. Or the Iraq war.
If you don’t like the Pope or the Catholic Church you can attack him on his stand against condoms. That’s how the AIDS crisis is being used politically.”

Friday, August 18, 2006

Extra, extra, read all about it: Iraq's newspaper war

Now that the decades-long iron grip of Saddam Hussein's tyranny has been lifted from the throats of Iraqi muslims, they are free to practice their religion to the fullest extent of their faith. The result: the Iraqi people currently suffer under the iron grip of an even older dictatorship: fundamentalist islam.

Stories like the following are enough to make one weep from frustration. All that blood spilled, all those lives lost.. for this??
It's as if a surgeon operated without his glasses on, and as a result, became satisfied in only cutting off one of a patient's two gangrenous limbs, pronouncing the patient cured, even as the effects of that gangrene continue before his very eyes... if only the doctor had sufficient vision to see the full scope of the job before him.
The myopia of multi-culturalism and the censorship of political correctness have much to answer for, in Iraq, as the butcher's bill keeps growing more costly... and the solution harder to diagnose.

The pro-suffering/anti-war "peace" protestors whom we protest against, claim that the US is "occupying" Iraq. Oh how I wish that were literally true, for then it would be far less likely that we would allow stories such as the following to occur, where we learn that, of all things, reading the wrong newspaper in Baghdad can now get you killed:

... [Mohammed Shakir] used to offer a selection [of newspapers] from all of Iraq's political movements and parties - but no more. In his majority Sunni neighborhood that has proved simply too dangerous. Two months ago a group of masked men showed up at his stall and ordered Shakir to stop selling papers printed by Shiite groups or government officials, saying that he would be killed if he did not comply.
"They even threatened people who buy these papers in the neighborhood," said Shakir, who took the threat seriously and closed down because most papers he carried dealt with Shiites and Shiite issues.
And it appears that these were not idle threats. Two paper sellers were killed in the last two months in Baghdad's Adhamiya neighborhood, a Sunni area. Another three lost their lives in Dora, a district south of the capital that used to be mixed but is rapidly becoming purely Sunni.

Paper sellers say that no one dares to sell newspapers in these areas since they fell under the control of Sunni militants.
And it is not just paper sellers and their customers who have been caught up in this latest form of sectarian violence sweeping the Iraqi capital. Cafés with televisions have been threatened with bombing unless they stop showing Shiite stations. Several bookshops have also been burned down or targeted by bombers. The attacks come against a backdrop of a seemingly vibrant media environment in Iraq.
After the regime's fall, the media scene flourished.
In summer 2003 dozens of new titles appeared, and after decades of censorship Iraqis were at last able to enjoy diverse viewpoints.
In the last year, however, the Iraqi media has developed a strong tendency toward sectarianism. Many papers, radio, and television stations are now closely affiliated with political or ethnic groups, which often provide them with funds.
Sadiq Abdel Hussein, 35, a schoolteacher from the working class Shiite district Sadr City, points out that it is not just Sunni militants who are trying to stifle press freedom. He says that members of the Mehdi Army, a militia loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, are also intimidating paper sellers - and bookshops - in areas that they control.
"The militias try to restrict the shops to selling only religious books and force the paper sellers to circulate leaflets from the Mehdi Army," he said. "The Mehdi Army also banned all papers issued by American troops."
In another development, the Mehdi militia is also said to have forbidden the public showing of music channels Rotana or Melody, Arabic versions of MTV that are popular among young Iraqis. "Anyone who shows these channels publicly might be whipped or tortured by militia members," said Hussein.
Saif Muhsin, a 33-year-old government employee, who lives in the Adhamiya neighborhood, is dismayed at the situation. "I never expected that the country would reach this low point of freedom where people get killed for reading or even carrying this or that paper," he said, adding, "If only the government and the security forces granted citizens as much freedom to read different opinions as militias have to roam the streets."
"But the government sits safely in the Green Zone and the militants rule the streets," he said.

Let's be clear in how to place the blame for this outrage: the Iraqis suffering from the followers of islam are not "victims" of "US occupation", they are victims of their religion's historically demonstrated propensity for inspiring violence.
We play a role in their suffering, however, if we have enabled these followers to practice their religion this faithfully, by defending their right to their violent faith.
"All cultures are of equal value, and therefore deserving of equal status", goes the mantra of multi-culturalism. Then how to justify the protection of a culture that is in itself ruthlessly intolerant of paralell cultures?
If one culture considers it permissable to condemn citizens to death for a "crime" as innocuous as reading a newspaper... how can a multi-cultural relativist ennoble this way of seeing the world?

The story is frightening in its revelation of how quickly things have deteriorated, and shows rather clearly that the more faithfully the religion of islam is practiced, the more of a menace to freedom it becomes.
How many lives must be lost before Iraqi newspaper vendors are not the only ones to get this news?

Acting naturally through learning a second nature

Earlier this summer, one of my favorite bloggers, Tiberge from Galliawatch, made a comment at one of our posts that has stuck with me for a while now. Seeing a photo of our city, Vancouver, included with a post on our weekly meetings at the Vancouver Public Library, she mentioned that it was no wonder we were able to remain optimistic about our future, being constantly surrounded by such natural beauty....

It has made me wonder, just what effect does natural splendour have on one's optimism, on one's general faith in the future? Is it indeed the cause... or might the appreciation of this natural beauty, be the effect, of that faith?

When I first moved here, I had the world's most enviable walk home from work: over a long pedestrian-friendly bridge, then soon along the gorgeous seawall, beside a busy duckpond, past a genuine waterfall, with the city skyline framed against the mountains the whole time. Frequently these sights would be augmented by playfully curious sea lions cavorting in the harbor, majestic herons patiently scouting for fish, and pairs of Canada geese, sometimes leading a long trail of young (cute!) hatchlings behind them.

Did such beauty make me optimistic? No, not on its own. I make myself optimistic, and the gorgeous natural spectacle we live within helps to keep me that way. The effect that this spectacular scenery plays on us isn't a natural, automatic one, judging by the number of gruff and grumpy people I come across here every day.

Instead, it seems allowed to, coached to, by choice; it's learned behavior... second nature.
Isn't this how it is with faith? It is to be sparked from within, before it can be helped from without. Outside influences act as a renewal, surely, not an inauguration. How else to explain, in human affairs, the varied reactions to the same circumstances; the outside influences are the same, yet the individual responses to it can be infinite.

It never ceases to fascinate me, when I find myself walking along pathways with people who are not stopped in their tracks at the spectacle of a pair of sea lions playing in the water; who glanced at the same soaring bald eagles I could see, but quickly looked back to their feet as they continued along their way. What world do they live in, that such beauty can be given its due with the merest glance? Maybe, I've come to believe, maybe they were just acting naturally.
The natural human response, seems to be indifference to the outside world, a severing of connections to it. I believe taking the time to admire something other than ourselves, contemplating more than just ourselves, seeing ourselves constantly revealed as a part of an ever bigger whole... this, to me, is unnatural, as it is learned behavior; second nature.

It should be part of being human, to possess the ability to change; adaptability is so integral to our survival. The one change most needed, is to rise above our nature; to exist above the animals, who live trapped to remain the same.

This is why our current struggle against the forces lined against us involves such high stakes: it is a battle to redefine the human experience itself. Our side, expecting fulfillment through ongoing change, being assaulted by their side, desperate to eliminate the need for change.

This week's meeting, as always, renewed our faith in eventual victory and rekindled our belief in our civilization being a prize worth fighting for. The wonders of our western civilization surround us all daily, yet how many take the time to see it? It's a more subtly hidden beauty, because it's not natural; it's second nature.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Covenant Zone/Blue Revolution Meeting

Every Thursday, 7-9 pm, in the atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library. Look for the blue scarves and bandanas and start making your contribution to this page.... As usual Charles makes the case for your presence, should you be in our neighborhood, in illuminating terms!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Freedom must come first, or nothing genuine and new can enter the world

The news is bad but it needs to be widely known to what degree the west is now home to people who are at war with it, more specifically at war with the nation-state and the culture of democratic self-rule, and with the necessary political and cultural boundaries between an us and a them that go with self-rule and with the healthy forms of competition and mutual respect in inter-national mediation that go with free, competitive, creative, and self-ruling polities.

A recent poll (HT: Jay.Mac) reveals what a large majority of British Muslims are willing to tell a pollster:
The recent homegrown plot in Britain to blow up transatlantic flights will intensify the fear that the country's 1.6 million Muslims are rejecting political tolerance and free speech for a violent, radicalized version of Islam. There is a real concern that British Muslims do pose a threat to that country and its traditional values. So how prevalent are such radical views among British Muslims?

Some answers are provided by the most comprehensive survey to date of Muslim opinion in Britain. The results from NOP Research, broadcast by Channel 4-TV on August 7, are startling.

Forty-five percent say 9/11 was a conspiracy by the American and Israeli governments. This figure is more than twice as high as those who say it was not a conspiracy. Tragically, almost one in four British Muslims believe that last year's 7/7 attacks on London were justified because of British support for the U.S.-led war on terror.

When asked, "Is Britain my country or their country?" only one in four say it is. Thirty percent of British Muslims would prefer to live under Sharia (Islamic religious) law than under British law. According to the report, "Half of those who express a preference for living under Sharia law say that, given the choice, they would move to a country governed by those laws."

Twenty-eight percent hope for the U.K. one day to become a fundamentalist Islamic state. This comports with last year's Daily Telegraph newspaper survey that found one-third of British Muslims believe that Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to end it.

The news is no less alarming on the question of freedom of speech. Seventy-eight percent support punishment for the people who earlier this year published cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed. Sixty-eight percent support the arrest and prosecution of those British people who "insult Islam." When asked if free speech should be protected, even if it offends religious groups, 62 percent of British Muslims say No, it should not.
The scary reality is that only three percent of British Muslims "took a consistently pro-freedom of speech line on these questions." The Muslim threat to British security is so severe that the assistant London police commissioner, Tarique Ghaffur, has called for an inquiry into the radicalization of young Muslims. Ghaffur sadly describes "a generation of angry young people vulnerable to exploitation."
Meanwhile, British Muslim "leaders", after sending the government a letter blaming its foreign policy for the rise of home-grown terrorists, and making it rather clear that they could only guarantee the safety of Britons if Britain adopts what they consider pro-Muslim policies, were called in to consult with the government about what could be done to help stop the growth of home-grown terrorists in wake of the recent police arrests of 24 young British Muslims alleged to have plotted to blow up ten airliners and kill thousands of innocents. But these "leaders" did not come to the conference meekly promising to do all they could to protect the nation. No, they came instead as angry victims of western culture and made demands on the government, with the implied threat that if they were not met, there would be hell to pay (HT: jonz):
Muslim leaders summoned to talks with the Government on tackling extremism in their midst called for public holidays to mark their religious festivals.

The Whitehall meeting was set up in response to last week's airline bomb plot discovery.

Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly had prepared an uncompromising message on the need to tackle dangerous radicalism.

But, in what she admitted were 'sharp' exchanges, some senior Muslim figures turned the tables yesterday and made a series of demands which also included the introduction of Sharia law for family matters.

Dr Syed Aziz Pasha, secretary general of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the UK and Ireland, said: 'We told her if you give us religious rights, we will be in a better position to convince young people that they are being treated equally along with other citizens.'
Sharia law, which is practised in large parts of the Middle East, should also be introduced in Britain, they argued. While it specifies stonings and amputations as routine punishments for crimes, Dr Pasha said he wanted it only for family affairs.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Communities Minister Meg Munn also attended the meeting. Moves being discussed include 'de-radicalisation forums' to help young Muslims engage with Government policy, improved spiritual guidance for Muslim university students and support for training of imams. Haras Rafiq, of the Sufi Muslim Council, said: 'The first thing that we need to do as a community is admit there is a problem.

'It is like being an alcoholic - we need to stand up and say these things and have an open and honest debate.'

Kharshid Ahmed, chairman of the British Muslim Forum, said: 'We believe that the threat is still external - it is people coming from outside and leading the radicalisation.

'We need to deal with that before people inside our communities are leading the radicalisation.'
I find it amazing that the British government is still talking to some of these extortionists. Is it not yet obvious that these unelected Muslim "leaders" need to be replaced with a new set of "Muslim" leaders, if Britain as a self-ruling nation is long to survive? The tiny islands of Britain have contributed far more to humanity than the wide swath of "Muslim lands" ever have or likely ever will if Sharia and a totalitarian form of Islam continue to prevail. The reason for this is rooted in political or civilizational forms, some having more creative potential than others, because some respect the need for there to be aggressive, creative, free, and hence variously differentiated, peoples, and some, in the name of universal submission to some law or word of God, do not. England was one of the first nation-states to emerge from the ruins of the Roman empire, developing a church and law that was distinctively English, making the local vernacular into an organ of high culture distinct from the old Latin high culture. This anglophone legacy remains central to the freest and most creative nations on earth, and, notwithstanding western Europe's widespead fear of the power of the nation-state and nationalism, this suggests to me that the nation-state is still the political form best suited to human freedom and creativity, even though it is a form that can be corrupted like all the others. The present attempts by Muslims in tandem with western white guilters to transcend the nation state in some kind of multicultural empire run by the UN and international NGOs, presumably in constant appeasement of the angry "victimized" Umma, must be resisted. The billions of resentful people, along with the gnostic fantasists who believe our unavoidable human propensity to conflict can be transcended through "international law", or some such, can spin many gnostic philosophies and bureaucracies that act to tie the creative and successful and militarily powerful down; but they cannot do what the productive few hundred millions on this planet, those who presently are largely responsible for ensuring the only economic and (competitive, inter-national) political system that can feed 6.5 billion people, do. Give the terminally resentful more power and a lot of people have to die.

Much of the world cannot feed itself. The dependent populations are understandably resentful, but if their resentments get appeased, instead of put to productive work, the result will be a much less productive world. Consequently, who, or what wars, will choose which billions must die? When will the appeasement stop and the hard truths of reality be driven home? The longer we wait, the harder the blows must be. Let the succesful and free individuals in the global economy, and the successful and free nations in an inter-national political order, run the world. It's time to close down much of the UN and the post-national, western-hating MSM, time to ruin the careers of a lot of academics and Muslim "leaders" and put the creative and free people in charge again. People must be told the truth: that they can support a system in which more and more live freer lives, or they can die; and the one thing a free person cannot do is choose to enslave himself, either to a man or to a book. Become obedient to God, to his creation, to reality, by all means; but obedience to a book that is not or cannot be interpreted in such a way as to constantly expand the freedom of its readers is a book that deserves only a home in a musty library. A book that claims to have the final, or first and only true, word, and need not be continually supplemented by ongoing revelations and interpretations, is simply a bad, anti-intellectual joke. And those who are not laughing have no business being in the seats of power in formerly free countries.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The cost of Independance for India

The Pakistan connection to the foiled islamic terror plot in England probably comes as no surprise to residents of another nation, long engaged in a war on islamic terror of its own:

August 15 is Independance Day for India, as the country celebrates its independance from Britain, and tension is higher than usual in the wake of credible tip-offs that terror attacks are "likely".

The left is quick to rub our noses in the dollars-and-cents cost of the war on terror, braying that our limited economic growth can in no way sustain heroic adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We can't afford to extinguish the Taliban, they lament; we need to apply that money to health care. We can't afford to unseat plotting anti-american and anti-Israel tyrants like Saddam Hussein, we have to settle for "keeping them in their box", to borrow an expression from Canada's illustrious former leader Jean Chretien; we need that money for subsidizing education.

Personally I don't believe in the "limited pie" view of economics; I have faith in mankind to continually recreate new wealth, faith in an unlimited pie, capable of unlimited growth. Nevertheless, if the lefts sincerely believes in their limited pie worldview, let's take them at their word, let's turn their own financial pre-occupations against them, by measuring the financial cost of the holy trinity of their religion: political correctness, western guilt and moral equivalency.

If the readers of the koran have some kind of culturally justified reason for their hatred of the west, for their murderous assault on the west, and for the ongoing threat that their existence poses for our security, what is their culture costing us?
What kind of financial expenditures, for example, are being incurred by the progressing nation of India, from the danger of being attacked by readers of the koran?
For one day alone, what is the cost of India celebrating its Independance from "colonial exploiters"? Leftists, if you have the courage of your convictions, you will ask yourselves, how many Indian hospitals and schools won't be built, because "India heightens security ahead of I-Day":

NEW DELHI: On the eve of Independence Day, India on Monday raised security around the country to unprecedented levels alarmed by the big terror attack plot in Britain and a US embassy advisory warning of likely terror strikes in metropolitan cities.
Hundreds of security personnel and policemen fanned out across cities and sites considered to be potential terror targets even as safety measures were reinforced in airports with increased deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel.

Across the country, crack anti-terrorist commandos were positioned at vital installations like nuclear plants, national monuments and airports forcing heightened vigil.

Police in over half a dozen states spread across eastern, central and southern India have also increased vigil to prevent attacks by Maoist rebels.

Following last month's bombings, Mumbai has been placed on high alert and a security blanket thrown around key government and private buildings.

The threat was the highest in the capital as the main celebrations on August 15 are centred at the historic Red Fort where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hoist the national flag and address the nation from its ramparts.

New Delhi has been declared a no-fly zone for the morning of Aug 15 and air defence guns have been placed at strategic locations to ward off possible aerial attacks by unmanned or micro light aircraft.

"The area will be completely sealed late Monday evening as 4000 security personnel will guard the fort. All of them will be heavily armed," said a senior security official.
Delhi Police have already unveiled an elaborate list of dos and don'ts for commuters and citizens for August 15, blocking off all vehicular traffic in and around the Red Fort within a radius of three kilometres.
Security has also been beefed up for the Delhi Metro with an additional 3500 personnel deployed at various stations.
Meanwhile, police have thrown a thick security blanket in other states as security arrangements for the I-day celebrations.
In Bangalore, police have deployed CRPF, CISF and BSF platoons, besides lining up 20 batallions of the state armed reserve police force.
For the first time, authorities have banned carrying of bags, water bottles, plastic materials, mobile phones, cameras, umbrella, radios or any other equipment inside the venue.

Sniffer dogs would be pressed into service throughout the function and those attending the ceremonial parade and cultural shows would have to pass through metal detectors, police said. Police personnel have been posted in sizeable numbers to ensure that there will be no security breach during the movement of VVIPs.

Two 'water jet' vehicles and fire tenders have been stationed at the parade grounds, police said. Security has also been beefed up at the railway station, bus terminus, airport and defence establishments, including HAL and ISRO.

Let's extend an olive branch to the left, because we do have one point of agreement: we both agree that protecting our freedom is very expensive. Might there be some way to lessen this cost..?
Can both sides, left and right, come to agree that the rising cost for defending our freedom, is being caused by the threat posed by believers in a fundamentalist interpretation of islam? After all, what are all these heightened security measures protecting us from: fundamentalist buddhists? Homicidal readers of the Bhagavad Gita? Suicidal readers of the Torah?
Can the left admit that it is the readers of the koran that are causing us to spend so much money on security instead of health care and education?
Would the left not agree that for as much money to be directed towards social programs as possible, we need readers of the koran to radically transform their religion?
An extremely small minority of muslims are trying to follow their religion by eliminating the passages in the koran inciting violence towards non-believers, violence towards women, and violence towards apostates. Surely the left will concede that this reformation will improve the standard of living for adherents of that religion?
What can both the left and the right do, hand in hand, to facilitate this minority so that their heresy can become the economically affordable version of this old religion?

Come on, leftists... think of the money we'd save!!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Reading the tea leaves: India's present, Canada's future..?

Thanks to Vinayak, Indian blogger at Law for the Common Man (and elsewhere), for sending us a link to a very provocative article.
Vinayak was responding to a July 19 piece I wrote on the Indian Government's move to censor blogs critical of islamic fundamentalism, as a "counter-terrorism" move in the wake of the jihadist train bombings in Mumbai, India.

Turns out that this outright censorship is the least of that nation's concerns.

Vinayak blogged on a recent article in the India Times newspaper outlining what I guess is the inevitable consequence of putting party before country, and personal power above personal integrity.
It paints a sad picture of multi-party politics in India, and one can't help wondering if the day will come when this trend will find its way into our system as well.

The trend: political parties seeing terrorist sympathizers as a voting block, and courting their vote:

We have recently heard that the verdict in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blast case will be delivered in early August. Imagine, this top-priority case has dragged on for 13 years, despite being heard by a TADA [Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act ] court, with supposedly fast-track procedures!
So, do not mistake arrests by the police of suspects in the latest Mumbai blasts for quick action. This case too may take 13 years. ...
But having been locked up for 13 years, they may emerge as ripe terrorist material. Besides, callous politicians now use the police as a political tool.
When chief ministers regularly arrest opposition leaders on charges that never end in convictions, people see the police-judicial process as political theatre rather than a justice system.

This has accelerated the criminalisation of politics. A new, dangerous development is the emergence of terrorists as vote banks. Abdul Nasser Mahdani, chief accused in the 1998 Coimbatore bomb blast, is wooed by both the DMK and the Left Front.

They seek the support of his People's Democratic Party, a Muslim outfit floated by him after his earlier Islamic Sevak Sangh was banned. ...

We have long witnessed criminals being wooed by political parties and given cabinet posts because their muscle and money power fetches crucial votes.
Elections are won and lost on swings of just 1% of the vote, so parties cynically woo every possible vote bank, including those headed by accused robbers and murderers.

Having wooed criminals, the logical next step is for political parties to woo terrorist outfits too. These may also command enough votes to swing some constituencies.
Indeed, the more our polity gets communalised, the more terrorists of all stripes will become politically attractive. Why jail a terrorist who can win you the next election?
Keep him on your side, otherwise his followers may switch to the opposition. In Uttar Pradesh [India's "Northern Province"], the chief minister has defended SIMI, the banned terrorist Muslim outfit.

One of his ministers, Haji Qureshi, has announced a reward of Rs 51 crore for beheading the Danish cartoonist who portrayed the prophet. [I think this means 510,000,000 rupees, or approx 12,000, 000 Canadian dollars]

This is incitement to murder and terrorism, yet is fully supported by the chief minister, who needs every possible Muslim vote in next year's state election. ...
Yet, the day may come when rewards will be offered, openly or covertly, for killing Muslim hate objects like Gujarat chief minister Modi. Politics apart, long legal delays (as in the Mumbai and Coimbatore blast cases) can fuel communal riots.
What police-judicial reforms do we need?
First, we need an independent Police Commission, along the lines of the Election Commission, with all-India staff to investigate and prosecute crime.
This function must be taken out of the hands of politicians. State governments can have separate forces for maintaining public order, but criminal investigation should be the job of a separate, autonomous police force.
That will help move criminals (and possibly terrorists) out of legislatures and into jails.
Second, we need many more judges, and judicial procedures that ensure quick decisions. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Third, we need a law mandating the immediate hearing and disposal of all criminal cases against elected legislators. Today, criminals join politics to delay cases they face.
But if these cases have to be disposed of before all others, criminals will avoid rather than join politics.
We might even see some cabinet ministers resigning in panic and going back to crime.

Many Canadians are today bemoaning Prime Minister Stephen Harper's principled stand in favor of Israel, critizing him for "humiliating" Canada in general and his party in particular; since the "numbers" are against him, it is somehow wrong to put principle above pragmatic political calculations.

Reading this story out of India gives us a sense of what might lie in store for our nation, should we actually follow the value system of these critics down to its eventual conclusion.

The "terrorist special interest group"... the voting block of the future?

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Liberty, etc": Quebec separatists weigh in on why we should not help Afghanistan

Canada's treason party, the separatist Bloc Québecois, is positioning itself to exploit the anti-Israel sentiment and rabid jew-hatred currently on the rise in the "distinct society" of La Belle Province.

Last weekend, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois party, Gilles Duceppe, participated in a pro-hezbollah rally in Montreal, Quebec. Canada's center-right national newspaper, the National Post, reports that when Duceppe ..."attempted to compensate for [his] attendance by calling for Hezbollah to be disarmed, [he was] booed."

I've been grappling with sincerely understanding the left's definition of "peace" and "peace-keeping" these last few weeks. The more I listen to their side of things, the more confused I become.

Looking for answers, this morning I descended into the enemy lair: the official Bloc Québécois website.
I notice that the amount of material at the site that is translated from french into english, is rather skimpy; dare I say, selective....?

The party's stance on our country's war on the taliban is pretty clear and unambiguous: [translating] "The Bloc Québécois does not believe that Canada can permit itself to maintain a comprehensive army, it must specialize in peace missions.
"Liberals and conservatives want the contrary: increase the budget and manpower without understanding what mandate Canada wished for its army."

Reading the comments from supporters, we can discover what mandate seperatist quebecois demand for our armed forces.
We can also lean that the average Bloc Quebecois follower is as likely to be besotted with Michael Moore conspiracy theories as they are with the day-dream of separation from Canada.

Here's a sampling of comments I've translated, on the subject of withdrawing Canadian troops from Afghanistan:

[Jocelyn, June 6, 2006] "It's clear that the interests here are not to defend ourselves from a menace but instead to control resources and the [oil] pipeline. It's humiliating that we are in the middle of helping tyrants enrich themselves.
Inform yourselves, you won't get the answers from television!"

[Roger Fery, May 18, 2006] "It is shameful that the Prime Minister intends on supporting the USA, especially Mr Bush in this adventure destined for failure (the russians know a thing about that).
These afghan or iraqi people will never stop their guerilla attacks.
This is submitting our guys to the worst catatrophes...."

[Richard, May 18, 2006] "Despite the traditional virtuous justifications for sending soldiers into another continent (liberty etc), the historical perspective that follows incites me to oppose the deployment of canadian troops: [The commentor launches into a rather lengthy recap of the Unocal trans-Afghanistan pipeline story from Michael Moore's 9/11 film and books. I'll just translate a brief excerpt..] ...An ultimatum is served to the Taliban as they nevertheless controlthe country: you must choose between bombs [invasion] or gold [pipeline]; meanwhile we begin the plans for invasion. The Taliban do not budge. We all know the rest, the 9/11 attempt principally orchestrated by Saudi dissidents, serves as a springboard for an invasion of... Afghanistan (and Iraq)."

[Francois, May 17, 2006] "To all the Bloc Quebecois deputies, in the name of respecting the sovereignty of nations and Canada's pacifist politics, we demand of you, today, as members of quebec youth, to oppose the prolonguing of the militaristic politics of the Harper government. The mission in Afghanistan... has not contributed at all to the progress of the afghan people and sows greater and greater confusion on the ground. Canada must return to its initial mission which was to maintain a climate of peace and to protect civilians. Furthermore, it is our duty to give to the Afghans the tools necessary for their development without imposing any agenda whatsoever.
Mr. Duceppe, if you are in favor of the sovereignty of the quebec people, you must support the sovereignty of the afghan people against american imperialism, characterized ever more by the ambitions of the canadian government.

[Jocelyne, May 17, 2006] "The Bloc Québecois must absolutely oppose the prolonging of the troops stay in Afghanistan.
Think of the 70% of all québécois that are against this war mission.
Bloc Québécois: who will elect you at the next elections?
May Canada return to missions of peace!"

[Isabelle, May 16, 2006] "...There is nothing humanitarian in keeping our troops in Afghanistan when we know that the principal objective in this conflict is that Mr. Bush's american government wants access to the immense oil reserves, by going through an adjoining country. What might motivate the canadian government to make itself the accomplice of president Bush and his entourage, knowing that they hold important roles in oil companies?"

[Marc, May 15, 2006] "All are in favor of peace missions authorized by the UN. But what is worrysome is the HARPER foreign policy that is so glued to that of BUSH and the neocons, that Canada's reputation as a nation, risks being forever ruined.
Imagine how different Quebec's foreign policy would be from that of Canada's?
Quebec has no interest in being part of a country like Canada."

Well Marc, as frightening as it is to contemplate, I think we have seen in recent days, on Montreal's streets, the particulars of how different a Quebec foreign policy would be from Harper's principled stand with Israel. With such open and strong support for hezbollah, your province, hopefully, will have no place within my Canada. In whose eyes, I wonder, will Canada's reputation suffer..?
In hezbollah's eyes, perhaps?
Why would that be such a bad thing, anyway; wouldn't it be a badge of honor to be hated by such monsters?
The left are quick to speak of "humiliation" and "shame"; such are evidently the real terrors that life can hold for them, I guess.

Shamed in whose eyes? Humiliated in front of whom?

I'll leave the last word to the National Post:
"Hezbollah is a terrorist group. It has committed countless atrocities aimed at Western and Israeli civilians in Israel and around the world. Its actions precipitated the current conflict in Lebanon. Hezbollah is listed under Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act. Canadian politicians have no place at any demonstration where Hezbollah flags are flown. And Canadian citizens who publicly demonstrate their support for Hezbollah should be seen for what they are: Islamic extremists and terrorist sympathizers.
In other words, the enemy."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday meeting notes: making sense of the whole in light of its parts

We survived our weekly meeting yet again.
The usual contingent of hammer and sickle t-shirt wearing youth wandered by, raising their eyebrows but not causing trouble. (I'm not kidding, by the way; our city actually has quite a few people living in it who wear such apparel on a daily basis. They don't seem to appreciate the irony that they live in a system that lets them wear a shirt praising a totalitarian system that would never reciprocate this freedom...)

We talked of many things, learning much, seeing information in new lights, sometimes adjusting our previous ideas to make room for new perspectives and new data. The one lesson learned each week, without fail, is how much there remains to learn.
(If only college had been as interesting..!)

What stays with me week after week, is the notion that each of us has a piece of the truth, that didn't make sense when we only knew our own small slice, but when the puzzle piece gets placed alongside other pieces held by other people, the small parts start to look entirely different once they are placed in light of a greater whole. Everybody can make a contribution, because everyone has at least one such piece to add to the whole.

Dag and I both showed up a bit early tonight, our talk quickly turning to Israel, and that embattled nation's heroic struggle for survival throughout the twentieth century. I received affirmation, yet again, of why there is so much to admire and learn from the lessons of that country's history. Dag mentioned how at a critical point in the '47 war, when Jerusalem looked lost, one person's knowledge of ancient history suggested an alternative road that could be taken in order to bypass the certain death befallling any armored convoy traveling along the main highway to the strategic city. This alternative road had been built two thousand years before, by Jews enslaved after their unsuccessful rebellion against Rome. And now that road, created as punishment, was to lead to salvation.
The road was located, used, and the result was a city saved, and a nation reborn.
A piece of history, studied by a scholar out of respect for the past, ends up ensuring an entire nation's future.

Who knows what each individual's contribution may bring? Who can say that any act is an act in vain, who can really claim such foreknowledge? Who knows where the missing piece of a puzzle is being kept, in whose memories of the past may lie a key to the future?
Never say that one person acting on his beliefs cannot make a difference, or that a small group of people acting for a common purpose are insufficient to make a difference.
History is made by such individuals, acting alone or in small groups, as much as it is by any masses of men.
Just look at Israel.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Now is the Time - For a Blue Revolution

I put this up on the weekend; I'll put it up again now as a way of inviting all readers in Vancouver to our weekly Thursday meeting at the atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9 pm. We're the guys in the blue scarves and bandanas. But make sure not to miss Charles' posts below.

Victor Davis Hanson:
When I used to read about the 1930s — the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China — I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.

Of course, the trauma of the Great War was all too fresh, and the utopian hopes for the League of Nations were not yet dashed. The Great Depression made the thought of rearmament seem absurd. The connivances of Stalin with Hitler — both satanic, yet sometimes in alliance, sometimes not — could confuse political judgments.

But nevertheless it is still surreal to reread the fantasies of Chamberlain, Daladier, and Pope Pius, or the stump speeches by Charles Lindbergh (“Their [the Jews’] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government”) or Father Coughlin (“Many people are beginning to wonder whom they should fear most — the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.”) — and baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.

Not any longer.

Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians.

It is now nearly five years since jihadists from the Arab world left a crater in Manhattan and ignited the Pentagon. Apart from the frontline in Iraq, the United States and NATO have troops battling the Islamic fascists in Afghanistan. European police scramble daily to avoid another London or Madrid train bombing. The French, Dutch, and Danish governments are worried that a sizable number of Muslim immigrants inside their countries are not assimilating, and, more worrisome, are starting to demand that their hosts alter their liberal values to accommodate radical Islam. It is apparently not safe for Australians in Bali, and a Jew alone in any Arab nation would have to be discreet — and perhaps now in France or Sweden as well. Canadians’ past opposition to the Iraq war, and their empathy for the Palestinians, earned no reprieve, if we can believe that Islamists were caught plotting to behead their prime minister. Russians have been blown up by Muslim Chechnyans from Moscow to Beslan. India is routinely attacked by Islamic terrorists. An elected Lebanese minister must keep in mind that a Hezbollah or Syrian terrorist — not an Israeli bomb — might kill him if he utters a wrong word.
But then the world is awash with a vicious hatred that we have not seen in our generation: the most lavish film in Turkish history, “Valley of the Wolves,” depicts a Jewish-American harvesting organs at Abu Ghraib in order to sell them; the Palestinian state press regularly denigrates the race and appearance of the American Secretary of State; the U.N. secretary general calls a mistaken Israeli strike on a U.N. post “deliberate,” without a word that his own Blue Helmets have for years watched Hezbollah arm rockets in violation of U.N. resolutions, and Hezbollah’s terrorists routinely hide behind U.N. peacekeepers to ensure impunity while launching missiles.
Demonstrators on behalf of Hezbollah inside the United States — does anyone remember our 241 Marines slaughtered by these cowardly terrorists? — routinely carry placards with the Star of David juxtaposed with Swastikas, as voices praise terrorist killers. Few Arab-American groups these past few days have publicly explained that the sort of violence, tyranny, and lawlessness of the Middle East that drove them to the shores of a compassionate and successful America is best epitomized by the primordial creed of Hezbollah.

There is no need to mention Europe, an entire continent now returning to the cowardice of the 1930s. Its cartoonists are terrified of offending Muslim sensibilities, so they now portray the Jews as Nazis, secure that no offended Israeli terrorist might chop off their heads. The French foreign minister meets with the Iranians to show solidarity with the terrorists who promise to wipe Israel off the map (“In the region there is of course a country such as Iran — a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region”) — and manages to outdo Chamberlain at Munich. One wonders only whether the prime catalyst for such French debasement is worry over oil, terrorists, nukes, unassimilated Arab minorities at home, or the old Gallic Jew-hatred.

It is now a cliché to rant about the spread of postmodernism, cultural relativism, utopian pacifism, and moral equivalence among the affluent and leisured societies of the West. But we are seeing the insidious wages of such pernicious theories as they filter down from our media, universities, and government — and never more so than in the general public’s nonchalance since Hezbollah attacked Israel.

These past few days the inability of millions of Westerners, both here and in Europe, to condemn fascist terrorists who start wars, spread racial hatred, and despise Western democracies is the real story, not the “quarter-ton” Israeli bombs that inadvertently hit civilians in Lebanon who live among rocket launchers that send missiles into Israeli cities and suburbs.

Yes, perhaps Israel should have hit more quickly, harder, and on the ground; yes, it has run an inept public relations campaign; yes, to these criticisms and more. But what is lost sight of is the central moral issue of our times: a humane democracy mired in an asymmetrical war is trying to protect itself against terrorists from the 7th century, while under the scrutiny of a corrupt world that needs oil, is largely anti-Semitic and deathly afraid of Islamic terrorists, and finds psychic enjoyment in seeing successful Western societies under duress.

In short, if we wish to learn what was going on in Europe in 1938, just look around.
Charles Henry:
I am sick to death of "neutrality" masquerading as the universally moral stand for Canada to adopt no matter what storm brews around us. Indifference to one side or another might be appropriate when nothing of moral value is at stake; what care I which leaf falls first from a tree. There may be times when a matter is of only intellectual substance, such as what blade of grass gets cut first on my lawn, and on those occasions being neutral is the sensible position, since the outcome possesses no moral dimension to it, for having no ongoing connection to our life.

There are times, however, when being neutral means ignoring the moral component so intertwined with the experience of being human. Part of my understanding of what it is to be human, is to strive to become more civilized, that is, to rise above the animal dimension of our existence, to reach towards the spiritual component of our existence. To try to be civilized (no easy task) is the height of human achievement.

I say it is not civilized to see evil being done, and to do nothing.

Of the cast of characters in the following story, it's not hard to see which individual was the civilized one...

Hezbollah’s violent ideology hits Montreal streets:
After having heard countless cries of “death to Israel”, “vive le Hezbollah” and once in Arabic “death to the Jews”, I addressed some of the protesters by shouting back “am Yisrael chai” (the people of Israel live) and “shalom aleichem” (peace to all). The incident then turned violent when a fanatic ran up to me suddenly, punching and strangling me quickly as I fell onto a parked car on Ste. Catherine St. As the attacker was restrained and ushered away I then yelled “Are you crazy? This is Canada, so act civilized like everyone else watching you.” The unknown assailant was then reintroduced by protest-organizers into the crowd to avoid detection by the numerous members of the media and policemen who had witnessed the assault. Other disgruntled anti-Israel protesters then attempted to enter my place of work where I sought refuge yelling “Jewish pig” and “down, down Israel” as police and bystanders sealed the entrance briefly, preventing the mob from breaking the storefront.

Thank God that Canada is still home to brave men with the moral clarity of this individual who, seeing evil in his streets, acts accordingly. My respect for his courage notwithstanding, I must point out one statement with with I disagree: he admonishes the terrorist cheerleaders in the street for not acting cilivized, " everyone else watching you."

I do not consider these mute eye-witnesses civilized, if they can clearly see the face of evil, look at the hatred in its eyes and only yawn.

If we go all the way, following the "value" of neutrality to the logic of its conclusion, we might discover that it is about learning how to be dead rather than how to be more alive: the ultimate neutrality is the cold of the grave, being at "peace" with your fellow human beings, by being as unconnected to their ongoing lives as it is possible to become.
Ernest Dowson (1867-1900)
Vit{ae} Summa Brevis Spem nos Vetet Incohare Longam*
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

* "The short span of life forbids us to entertain long hopes." - which I take to mean: it's time to stop dreaming that a utopian solution to all present woes will drop from the sky, and to act, if we are to fulfill the modest dreams that our briefly-opened path allows. Dowson died very young, an alcoholic. But it is in his poem, not in the tragedy of his life, that we may find the sign that inspires us to transcend the previous limits of our sign system, our culture, as we turn from the romantic ending to the revival of our cultural traditions and their orthodox and never-dead dreams of freedom.

Covenant Zone/Blue Scarf Meetings, every Thursday, in the atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9 pm. Come join Charles Henry and the rest of us.