Thursday, January 31, 2008

Three Cheers!

Before we get to the theme and links that have occupied my attention this last week (to be posted later today, I hope), just a reminder that Covenant Zone bloggers and friends meet every Thursday in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9 pm, in front of Blenz Coffee. If you'd like, please join us in discussing the covenant we all must share if we are to guarantee each other's future in a free society.

This last Saturday marked the second anniversary of the first meeting of bloggers that soon led us to create Covenant Zone. At that first meeting, advertised by Dag as a chance for local bloggers to get together to discuss the (radical) Muslim and (Western) Gnostic problems, I met the tough-talking, but not particularly fearsome blogger in person. Unbeknownst to me, Dag had seeded the McDonald's restaurant with "friends", guys in need of a free meal, to act as security lest anyone come who had taken offense at Dag's postings on No Dhimmitude. There was no need for that. The only "bad" guy in sight was a leading organizer for the Liberal Party of Canada. And since that day, no one has seen the need to disrupt a weekly Covenant Zone meeting. We still live in a pretty free society, notwithstanding signs that this is eroding (we are free to be ignored as long as we don't want more public roles), signs which we like to talk about, and to which we now see a few people (even Liberals) reacting in positive ways.

In any case, nothing lasts forever if it is not renewed. No matter how free Canada is or has been, it still requires each of us to make a commitment in our daily lives and actions to work to protect each other's freedom, even when people do things with it which seem wrongheaded to us. Freedom today has to struggle against a culture that seems to value risk management above all else, a liberal managerial culture which wants to restrict risky actions that might have the effect of not only creating greater freedoms, but new differences and inequalities and resentments - life fully lived, in short. For too many of us, politics has come to mean a Utopian dream of overcoming politics through endless mediation by the therapeutic classes - a dream of bringing about some future without "discrimination" or inequalities or injustices. Such dreams can never be realized, given human nature, and they only really result in pressure to put the lid back on human resentments and conflicts, while we all wait naively for the day when the top blows off and things get really nasty. Much better, it seems to me, to embrace a political culture where we actively accept the inevitability and need for new signs and new differences as a mark of a freedom we can all share, a freedom for each individual to share in the signs by which we can gain a real sense of transcending the ever eroding past.

Millions of Canadians actively negotiating their differences in a million local covenant zones strikes me as a far better dream than a few great leaders and judges telling us what we can and cannot do to insure a country without "discrimination". Three cheers for Keith Martin, a Liberal who wants to protect our freedom to make light of Islam and Gnostics and Conservatives and homosexuals and Catholics, and whatever else we want to talk about, in the Covenant Zone.


Before we get to more serious posts, another little glimpse into the culture clash of our times:
ST. JOHN'S — An Iranian man studying in Newfoundland has been sentenced to three months in jail for kissing a woman on her breast while the two were sharing an elevator.

Farhood Azarsina, 25, pleaded guilty last week to sexual assault.

Mr. Azarsina, a PhD student in engineering at Memorial University, admitted kissing the top of the woman's breast while the two were on an elevator at the St. John's school on Sept. 27.

He apologized in court last week, explaining he acted on impulse.

Judge David Orr said during sentencing Wednesday that Mr. Azarsina “has a superficial understanding of the effect of his actions.”
Judge Orr said the fact the assault took place in an elevator, an enclosed space, added to the trauma.

Mr. Azarsina said he didn't realize the seriousness of the offence in this country.

“You can't expect all males to control themselves when the breasts are out,” he said.

The 20-year-old woman, in a victim-impact statement read in court last week, described the negative effect the incident has had on her life.

“It wasn't supposed to be a day I should remember. Instead, it was a day I'll never forget,” she said, adding it has turned her into a fearful person who is unable to sleep or concentrate.

“I'm struggling to retain some kind of normalcy in my life.”

Mr. Azarsina told the court last week that he has also suffered. He said he was verbally and physically harassed by other prisoners during his time in jail.

“They called me 'camel-back rider' and 'Osama bin Laden,' said Mr. Azarsina, who claimed he was assaulted twice.
None of these histrionics bodes well for the future, it seems to me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Democrats: Now Your Choice Is Clear

We haven't been blogging much on the US Presidential elections here at Covenant Zone -- it's a bit out of our bailiwick.

But I can't pass up the chance to comment on this week's Big News from the Democratic campaign:

Democratic candidate Barack Obama has been endorsed by British parliamentarian George Galloway:

How Obama Has Given America A Reason To Believe
" guess is America is looking for real change, and only Barack Obama represents that."
This is a major set-back for the other front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as the Galloway endorsement for Obama casts serious doubts on Clinton's anti-american credentials, to the point where she may have to write off the anti-american wing of the democratic party, and search for primary votes elsewhere.
Maybe Madame Clinton, in her desperation, would consider a change (if you'll pardon the expression) and tack a little more... to the right.

To help her get her bearings, I've assembled a little promotional video on her behalf, which I hope will, in its own modest way, manage to rescue America from a Presidency beloved by the likes of George Galloway.

I call it: "Stay to the right":

Good summary of Canada's "Human Rights Commissions": our decline into liberal fascism; and our rising against Islamic Apartheid

Check out Paul Tuns' piece for the February edition of Interim magazine, an excellent summary of our "human rights" scandal in Canada. The link is to his blog home page; scroll down to Tuesday, January 29, 2008, "Human rights tribunals – curb ’em or close ’em". Hat tip: Five Feet of Fury.

Don't forget to write your politicians, federal and provincial, and tell them what you think about the current regime's policing of free speech.

I am also glad to discover that a group of students at York University in Toronto are standing up to the tired old leftist lie (nostalgia for simpler days) about Israel being an "apartheid state". They are organizing against Islamic State Apartheid. While women, homosexuals, and religious minorities do indeed live an "apartheid" existence in most Islamic states, I have seen reports that many Palestinians presently living in Israel will not want to live under a Palestinian state if one is formed in the West Bank. They enjoy greater freedom and wealth in a Jewish state than they expect from an Arab state.

Falling on your own sword

I remember with interest a book I once read detailing a common theme in myths from around the world. These would be myths characteristic of an agrarian society with a dawning consciousness of how its myths work. These myths tell us about a society that, in times of trouble, hears the words of a wise man, or, alternatively, someone who is not usually heard from, telling the people to look for a special sign of something or someone - say, someone whose pants have a horizontal, not vertical, seam - someone who, it is implied, is somehow connected to the cause of the crisis. The person who speaks intuitively grasps that the community needs a victim, someone to point to and cast out, not that they know exactly what it is to scapegoat; what the person does not realize, until too late, is that in speaking out he or she becomes marked as a potential victim him or herself.

Such a myth is mark of a world still somewhat primitive, not yet fully in the light of the Judeo-Christian unveiling of myth's role of transfiguring sacrificial violence by making victims into myth's tragic heroes or gods, a world not yet troubled by myth's inability to explain itself, its own history and relationship to human violence and to the rituals that represent and obscure originary violent events.

I'm really not sure if I am being facetious in suggesting that such a mythic consciousness would be roughly the equivalent in religious consciousness of today's Archbishop of Canterbury:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called for new laws to protect religious sensibilities that would punish “thoughtless and cruel” styles of speaking.

Dr Williams, who has seen his own Anglican Communion riven by fierce invective over homosexuality, said the current blasphemy law was “unworkable” and he had no objection to its repeal.

But whatever replaces it should “send a signal” about what was acceptable.

This should be done by “stigmatising and punishing extreme behaviours” that have the effect of silencing argument.

The Archbishop, delivering the James Callaghan Memorial Lecture in London this afternoon, said it should not just be a few forms of extreme behaviour that were deemed unacceptable, leaving everything else as fair game.

“The legal provision should keep before our eyes the general risks of debasing public controversy by thoughtless and, even if unintentionally, cruel styles of speaking and acting,” he said.
In 2006, Parliament passed the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which creates an offence of inciting or “stirring up” hatred against a person on the grounds of their religion. But the act was so watered down during its passage through Parliament that its critics fear it will be almost useless.

Dr Williams said: “It is clear that the old blasphemy law is unworkable and that its assumptions are not those of contemporary lawmakers and citizens overall. But as we think about the adequacy of what is coming to replace it, we should not, I believe, miss the opportunity of asking the larger questions about what is just and good for individuals and groups in our society who hold religious beliefs.”

Dr Williams was criticised by the National Secular Society who accused him of promoting “self-serving and dangerous" ideas.

Terry Sanderson, president, said that the Archbishop’s speech was a “blatant pitch for new legislation to replace the blasphemy laws that the Government are planning to scrap.”
Thoughtless and, even if unintentionally, cruel styles of speaking and acting? Self-serving indeed. I mean what could be more thoughtlessly sacrificial than pointing the finger at someone and labelling them with highly emotional and subjective labels like "thoughtless" and "unintentionally cruel", and then casting them out of society as the bad guy? Sure the lawyers would develop all kinds of standards and protocols for such charges; still, at the end of the day, what kind of law can judge "unintentional thoughts" without making the traditional English ideal of a univerally-applied law into a plaything of arbitrary judicial interpretation? How could a society with such a law not corrupt its judiciary and their aspirations to disinterestedness, given that a judge would have to rely on political correctness to know when someone was being criminally thoughtless and unintentionally cruel?

A society that became so irrational as to cast out all that Christianity has taught us about the irrationality of scapegoating and depending on victimization for creating social order - a society whose present erosion is in part tied to its religious and political refusal to name and contest the primitive religious sensiblity that is growing in its midst (as anything other than "anti-Islamic" and "cruel") - is a society that could easily turn on the Archbishop and say that he is the one being thoughtless and unintentionally cruel, and cast him out.

Where do they find these people, these half-witted readers of Rene Girard (I have read that Dr. Rowan Williams is among their number) who never seem to appreciate what Girard is really telling us about our cruel addiction to casting out the bad guy, "Mr. cruelty"? The British Isles that gave us the greatest lessons in the rule of law and free speech, are now home to many high officials and sacrificers who need to go back to school and relearn those lessons.

As usual, the work of Eric Gans is to the point:
The claim that what Robert Sheaffer--an interesting "amateur" theoretician of resentment to whom I shall return in a future column--calls "envy control" is the founding principle of human society strikes me as more valid by every reasonable intellectual criterion than, for example, Richard Rorty's popular idea, borrowed from Judith Shklar, that the good society is one that avoids cruelty. The idea of avoiding cruelty is so sanctimoniously self-serving, in a word, so sacrificial--Cruelty as the black-hatted Bad Guy--that it makes me nostalgic for the Aztecs who supplied themselves with protein by slaughtering their neighbors; no mealy-mouthed hypocrites there! But this Nietzschean reaction, however natural, only plays into the hands of the "institutional middle class," with its "empathic" notions of compassion and cruelty-avoidance. As proof, Nietzsche himself has become a hero of this class, which is to say, of the Left, which he execrated. His revaluation of all values is now, with fitting irony, put to just the opposite use to that for which it was intended: the conscration of the victimary. This should be a warning to all thinkers who dare speak of resentment.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

French Robbery Victim: "I Don't Work In A Blockhouse..."

One robbery too many for a French shop owner interviewed in France's La Depeche newspaper yesterday. Translated by myself, hopefully keeping the sense of despair and disillusionment in the original:
"I don't blame anybody, I'm just fed up":
...Saturday night, two individuals came in to the shop, armed and hidden behind hoods. They rifled the cash register, [stole] lottery cards and telephone cards... An armed robbery that left the owner terrified, tired and furious with the general inertia.

[Reporter:]"What happened Saturday?"

[Owner:] "A few customers were still shopping in the store. It must have 7:50 pm. Two guys came in. They menaced me with a switchblade and they helped themselves. They ripped off the cash register and took many items. They were very nervous, impossible to reason with.

"Your store remains open..."

Since Sunday. If I stop, I will no longer have anything. I set up here two years ago. I just lived through my second robbery. The first cost me a divorce; my wife got so scared, she never got over it. I no longer count the thefts, here or at home. I don't work in a blockhouse. Earlier [the previous owner] was obliged to sell out after so many thefts. It becomes impossible.

Did the thieves get away?

The first police patrol took 40 minutes to arrive! I couldn't even get an answer from 17 [France's version of our emergency telephone number 911, but specifically for police emergencies], I had to go through the fire department. But, it's not because there was no prior warning.

A little grocery, the Proxi, was attacked Tuesday January 15. I myself went to the central police station last week to alert them, saying that I would be next... They promised me patrols. I don't doubt that now I'll start seeing police from now on... If it had been earlier, it would have been more useful.

Do you blame the police?

They say they don't have enough manpower. I work in a neighborhood, a genuine one, a village, with decent residents who deserve to be as well protected as they would be downtown.

Have you contacted city authorities?

I've written everywhere, even to the minister of the Interior now President... Have to get things moving. I'm demanding video cameras. The security of the neighborhood can start there. I don't blame anyone, I'm just fed up. At this rate, I'll soon have to close my doors. If I close, it's welfare. I'm not even eligible for unemployment insurance. I don't fancy arming myself with a shotgun in order to stay in business...
[The photo heading this post is of a British blockhouse along the Quebec-New York border.]

Choose your quote; a question of emphasis

First (hat tip: halls of macadamia), check out this Globe and Mail/Report on Business piece:
The secular group Muslim Canadian Congress issued a letter Tuesday criticizing Islamic products as more expensive than mainstream financial ones.

The letter comes as Ottawa is considering its first applications to start up Canadian banks operating within the strictures of Islamic religious law. Sharia-compliant products, such as mortgages and mutual funds, have sprouted up across the country in recent years and are gaining in popularity around the world.

The MCC said the move puts undue pressure on Canadian Muslims to sign on to more costly products.

“Islamic banking is nothing more than an attempt by Islamists, with backing from Middle Eastern financial institutions and their Western partners, to scare Muslim Canadians into believing that they should pay more to the banks and demand less in return, as an act of religiosity,” said MCC president Farzana Hassan in an open letter to CMHC.

It asked the Canadian housing agency to abandon its study into the issue, which will cost about $65,000, and said a better approach would be a banking system that seeks to integrate Canadians.

“What we need is a better deal from the banks for all Canadians, rather than dividing us up into religious groups and placing obstacles in the way of better integration of all Canadians,” Ms. Hassan said.

“Religion has no place in the banking or mortgage industry.”

CMHC said it merely wants to understand the issue better, and stressed that it has no plans to start offering such products itself.
Then check out the Muslim Canadian Congress take on their own letter
The Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) has asked the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to abandon its $100,000 study to introduce so-called Islamic Banking in Canada, saying there should be no room in Canada for Saudi inspired Islamist political doctrines dressed up as innocuous religious requirements.

In a letter to Karen Kinsley, Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the president of the Muslim Canadian Congress Farzana Hassan said, "Islamic Banking is nothing more than an attempt by Islamists, with backing from Middle Eastern Financial Institutions and their Western partners, to scare Muslim Canadians into believing that they should pay more to the banks and demand less in return as an act of religiosity. "

"Sharia Banking is an obscene attempt to fleece an already marginalized Muslim community while promising them the exact opposite. On the one hand Imams are warning Muslims of hellfire if they deal with the existing banking systems, and on the other the same clerics are being paid by banks to herd Muslims towards a system that is based on lies and deception.

What we need is a better deal from the banks for all Canadians, rather than dividing us up into religious groups and pacing obstacles in the way of better integration of all Canadians. Our banking system has developed in Canada over the last 200 years, and there is no need to adapt it to the failed economies and medieval systems modeled on Saudi Arabia and Iran," added Ms. Hassan.
In the letter, Ms Hassan said it was unfortunate that some Canadian Banks are succumbing to the lure of easy money that comes from supposed interest-free banking where customers receive zero interest on their deposits while paying more to the banks. "While the banks and their paid Imams and sheiks will make handsome returns, Muslim Canadians will end up as losers, with promises of rewards in the afterlife," she wrote.

"Religion has no place in the banking or mortgage industry and banks should desist from employing imams or sheikhs who sanctify so called Islamic bank products and mortgages. We are not living in the middle ages to get our financial cues from clerics claiming guidance from the divine," she added.

Explaining the deceptive workings of interest-free Sharia banking, as practised by Saudi and other Islamic banks, Ms Hassan said: "Muslim bankers and their hired clerics claim they indulge in interest-free banking, but in reality they hide this interest. So-called Islamic banking institutions claim they operate on "zero interest." However, the fundamental characteristic of charging interest is never truly eliminated in Islamic banking, but rather is hidden.

The MCC president referred the CMHC president to Muhammad Saleem, a former president and CEO of Park Avenue Bank in New York, who has written a book, Islamic Banking — A $300 Billion Deception. Mr. Saleem, who was a senior banker with Bankers Trust where, among other responsibilities, he headed the Middle East division and served as adviser to a prominent Islamic bank based in Bahrain, dismisses the founding premise of Islamic banking, saying, "Islamic banks do not practise what they preach: they all charge interest, but disguised in Islamic garb. Thus they engage in deceptive and dishonest banking practises."

The MCC president also referred the CMHC CEO to another critic of Islamic banking, professor Timur Kuran, who taught Islamic Thought at the University of Southern California, and who has authored, Islam and Mam-mon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism, Prof. Kuran writes that the effort to introduce sharia banking "has promoted the spread of anti-modern currents of thought all across the Islamic world. It has also fostered an environment conducive to Islamist militancy."
In the letter the MCC president said, an additional and related byproduct of Islamic finance is the legitimization and financial support by Western institutions for the type of radical Islamic scholarship and indoctrination. The need to certify shari’a-compliance of their Islamic products by "qualified shari’a scholars" has created demand for the services of experts that more often than not are the indoctrinated products of radical Wahhabi/Salafi shari’a faculties in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, who generally hold views fundamentally inimical to the most basic values of Western civilization.

Even a cursory look at the names, affiliations and views of popular shari’a scholars, such as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Sheikh Mohamed Ali Elgari, Faysal Mawlawi, Sheikh Nizam Yaquby, Suleyman al-Maniya and others , many of whom sit on the shari’a advisory boards of dozens of Islamic banks and get paid princely sums from each, would make it clear that most are hard line Islamists and, in at least some cases, open supporters of terrorism. She informed the CMHC CEO that Mr. Qaradawi, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, for instance, is chairman of the shari’a boards of the two Qatari Islamic banks owned by the ruling families among many others.

In another example, Muhammad Taqi Usmani, a radical Deobandi cleric and a former shari’a court member from Pakistan, who sits on dozens of shari’a boards in the West, is a key executive in the Karachi Deobandi ma-drassa Darul Uloom, which has trained and continues to train thousands of Taliban and jihadist cadres. He was also instrumental in the Pakistani government decision to declare the Ahmadi Muslims apostates and thus com-plicit in the murder and suffering of countless innocent Muslims. He is further on record preaching that Muslims living in the West "must live in peace until strong enough to wage Jihad’ against their fellow-citizens in order "to establish the supremacy of Islam."

The same is true about many of the trustees of various Islamic banking insti-tutions. The Dow Jones Islamic Fund (IMANX), for example, is owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) - a Saudi-controlled non-profit institution that holds title to hundreds of American mosques – which was recently listed by the US Dept of Justice as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism financing trial in Dal-las, Texas.

"We urge the CMHC to not proceed any further with their ill advised initiative to promote Islamic banking in Canada. A crown corporation should not be a party to any venture that strengthens the jihadi movement and leads to the segregation of Muslims from the mainstream," Ms. Hassan added.
Note the difference in emphasis, and see how the Globe's mainstream media attitude of "neutrality" leads it to misrepresent the group, the Muslim Canadian Congress, about which it is reporting.

Getting the MCC right is a tough job, however. Laugh at the idea of "moderate Muslims" if you must take the Koran as literally as bin Laden. But be thankful that we have some of these "apostates" in Canada as a voice of common sense. I have made fun of the MCC, at this blog, for 1) calling for the separation of church/mosque and state; and 2) actively engaging in Canadian politics as a "Muslim" organization, instead of say a Pakistani-Canadian organization, or an ex-Muslim organization; 3) engaging in anti-Israel and anti-American rhetoric.
Now, I'm not sure if my earlier criticism is entirely on the money. I think in some sense they are moderate Muslims and they are doing what all Muslims should be doing: seeking to reform the faith, and to marginalize the orthodox hate mongers, fighting a civil war within the Islamic world, a war in which the rest of us should participate and take sides. Since Islam is itself an inherently political ideology, so must be any opposition, including "religious" opposition, to this "religion".

At the end of the day, what matters is that we preserve the freedoms of Canadian society, where the state (including agencies like the CMHC) does nothing to perform or enforce the dictates of any religion, like the Sharia proscriptions against charging "interest" or publishing Mohammed cartoons, or the Sharia licensing of polygamy. I would not want to suggest, however, that religious groups can't lobby the state on particular issues. But their freedom to do that really depends on the rest of us acting appropriately to guarantee their and our freedom. We must engage them, drawing and enforcing lines. It's all a question of knowing when to laugh religious lobbyists out of the water, or knowing when to label primitive sacrificial violence for what it is, instead of being afraid to unveil the promoters of "Islamic banking" for what they are: according to the MCC, they're religious barbarians. That's the only way that Muslims can find a free and decent place in Canada without helping turn this country much more totalitarian. I don't think the Globe and Mail yet gets it, in its desire to selectively quote and sanitize the letter of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

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Why Are So Many Welsh Teens Killing Themselves?

"She was a lovely girl from a lovely family," said Michael Tapner, a 57-year-old family friend and retired coal miner. "I blame the environment. There is nothing for the kids to do, no place to go, nothing."
This was one citizen's reaction to the recent death of yet another teenager in a small Welsh town. She was found hanging in her bedroom.

Her death last Thursday was the latest in at least seven apparent copycat suicides in Bridgend, South Wales, that have alarmed parents, health authorities and police, who believe that they may be prompted by messages on social networking websites such as Bebo.
In the 12 months before Tasha’s death, six young men from Bridgend and the surrounding area had killed themselves. Most were known to each other. This month Tasha attended the funeral of 20-year-old Liam Clarke, who was found hanged in a local park the day after Boxing Day.
Copycat suicides are a well-known phenomenon but in Bridgend the tributes left on websites such as Bebo appear to have had a significant impact. Friends have set up memorial pages where wellwishers have posted messages or bought virtual “tablets” in a remembrance wall. The 19 tablets on Tasha’s memorial page include the messages “RIP chick”, “Sleep Tight Princess” and “Sweet dreams, Angel”.
One officer [of the South Wales Police] said: “They may think it’s cool to have a memorial website. It may even be a way of achieving prestige among their peer group.”

South Wales already had one of the worst suicide rates for young people. Tasha, who called herself “Wildchild”, was not the only one to spend hours each day on the internet in a world about which their parents knew little.
Melanie Davies’s son, Thomas, was the third young person from the area to kill himself last year. Mrs Davies, 38, said: “One of his friends told me that they feel these kids seem to be copying each other . . . so many of them are hanging themselves.”

I don't think that the kids in this story are killing themselves because they belong to some kind of internet suicide club. I think it is just that self-destruction is the natural result of self-obsession. The paradox of modern times is that we possess the means to interact with others to an unprecedented degree, we posses the means to continually nourish a curiosity about the world we live in, and yet we avail ourselves as little as possible of these resources… We are turned in towards ourselves. The initiative that would connect us to our world, launching us into pursuing conversations, careers, families, is increasingly missing in people’s lives. The young, usually so curious about their world, are today the most jaded; the young, usually the most optimistic about the future, are today the most cynical. Is there something that they are learning, or is there something that they are not being taught, that is causing this change?

Why are they disconnecting themselves from each other, and from us?

The teenage years are always so filled with disillusionment, as old visions fall to make room for new revelations. If a life is too turned in towards itself, how does it survive the continual humiliations that the trials of life place upon it? The lifelines of a parent’s love, a sibling’s support, and a shared belief system focused on the long-term rather than the short-term… these used to be commonly available resources, yet now seem as scarce as the depleted natural resources in mining towns like Bridgend.

Seneca once said, “To Wish To Be Cured Is Part Of The Cure”… reading the comments section accompanying this story in the UK press, I get the sense that the United Kingdom my family came from has been replaced by one depleted of its most treasured resource: a belief system that allows them to connect and interact with others. North Americans are posting comments like these:

Praying for their families. This is so sad and tragic.

Pam, Sheridan, Wyoming

My heart is broken for the families and friends of these sad and misguided young people. That they can't see they have been born into the best of times compared to their ancestors is so sad. They have all the chances that millions want and they end it for who knows what reasons. Yes, the world looks bleak, yes it is hard but we could go back and find it a thousand times harder in the past. God Bless the families in their anguish.

Patricia Anne, Cannington, Canada

…And this is the typical response these sentiments are met with:

I believe you 'Jesus' loving 'North Americans' would be better off spreading the word in places like Clark County, or Las Vegas, than in South Wales.

Fr Tim, Blackpool, Lancashire

Thank you, American Jesus devotees, for making me laugh. ...

Howard, Manchester

I fail to see how faith in the man on the cross can help anyone. sending people to worship a fake god is more likely to send them over the edge if you ask me!

Karen , Northampton, Northamptonshire

The modern-day UK... a Kingdom United by... what, exactly?

[For another, even more harrowing teen suicide story, read about this case in France last year.]

Monday, January 28, 2008

That we may hate

As we've argued, the contemporary Left's dependence on scenes of victimization in order to make political attacks against the "hegemony" of normal Western life, creates a need for victims, a need that various sacrificers - priests of all sorts and stripes - are willing to fill. In other words, the defense of the victim, once the hallmark of Judeo-Christian civilization, has morphed into an addiction, a pervasive White Guilt, that does less to defend legitimate victims (whose legitimacy is not explained rationally, lest one undermine those who service the addiction, and that leads a minority to become jaded about any and all victim claims) than it does to create them.

How many people, facing medical emergencies, may have died from the latest victim stunt, pulled by Hamas, in which the international media willingly colluded? As Bob Owens writes at Pajama's:
The recent blackout in Gaza was reported dutifully around the globe with Israel’s responsibility for the lights-out nearly always leading the story. The fact that it was Hamas that cut off electricity to Gaza City and then staged the candlelight protests against it was no secret — yet the U.S. media stuck to the Hamas-driven narrative...
And how many thoughtless do-gooders will write a cheque, or lend their voice, to organizations enabling Palestinian fascism because they are shocked to "learn", from the Boston Globe, that Israel isn't providing half a ton of flour per person per day?

Or how many people fell for this apparent Palestinian media stunt that Wretchard and Richard Landes are revisiting?

Anyone remember green helmet guy, or the al-durah affair?

After the victimary left and the unelected promoters of "international law" and transnational bureaucacy, have successfully eroded the Western nation-state as the actor primarily responsible for mediating international conflicts and wars, will we have less or more violence? If you hope that systems of democratic accountability can help erode our addiction to victims, should one want more or fewer Israels, more or fewer groups like Hamas?

We might try to strike up a sane debate. But with whom? If you hate Jews, no lie is too evil, and the mainstream media reports them.

Date from Hell

Those who argue that Islam can't change, that it is forever mired in a medieval mindset, may or may not find evidence for their position in the latest news on the Muslim dating scene. What's the first rule for the independent, modern Muslim woman who gets to choose her own mate? What do I know, but just maybe it's: don't date the Imam.

UPDATE: See also: don't quote the Mullah, or else

Marseilles' Busy Criminals

Crime seems so rampant in the southern French city of Marseilles, that a law-abiding citizen is victimized every few minutes... and he is probably getting mighty tired of it.

From the regional paper La Provence, a quick translation of someone having a particularly bad day:

For the young computer maintenance technician in Marseilles, it wasn’t his day … Thursday, around noon, while he was driving along de la Viste Avenue, he had his laptop stolen after imprudently leaving it on his passenger seat.

A few minutes later, still driving down de la Viste, when suddenly 4 individuals on scooters intercepted him and in military style pulled him out of his car, which they then take off with. Along comes a Good Samaritan, on a scooter, who proposes that they pursue the aggressors with his vehicle. Off he goes with the stranger… who carries him all the way to the housing project on de la Viste. At the base of the building, a gang falls upon him and extorts his cel phone from him.
As bad as being robbed three times in one day can be, this next Marseilles story from late December is probably worse. Apparently a bus driver was attacked twice in the space of a few minutes, by two gangs of romanian immigrants. Loosely translated from the French regional newspaper La Provence, this tale of transit terrorism:
In a flash, the knife blade was thrust into the victim’s armpit. Bent over in pain, the 34 year old bus driver crumpled to the floor of the vehicle. After the 9:30 am stabbing the two aggressors took flight on foot, leaving the passengers terrified. The bus had just stopped at the terminal of l’hopital Nord when two men came aboard, but refused to pay their fares.
When the driver asked them to pay, the two responded with insults, threats…and suddenly a knife blow seemingly aimed at the victim’s heart. Yet the suffering was only beginning for the driver. According to eye witness accounts collected by the police, the driver then underwent a second attack. “A few minutes later, just before the arrival of the police, about 30 individuals of Romanian origin arrived at the terminal, armed with iron bars”, said one investigator. The victim, writhing in pain on the ground, was attacked a second time. Taken to emergency services, the driver suffered two wounds, and is greatly traumatized.
Thanks to tips given by witnesses, the suspects were quickly spotted and arrested in the Romanian squat at the chemin du Vallons-des-Pins. One of the two has been formally identified by the victim as the assailant attacking with an iron bar. The alleged attacker is a 30-year old Romanian.
Upon news of the attack, Marseilles bus drivers sprung into action... by going on strike:
Drivers working out of the Arenc and la Rose depots decided to stop all bus
services into the northern Marseilles neighborhoods, in solidarity with their
fallen colleague.

One commentor, zebra3, laments: "By the time this is over there won't be any more busses there!!" Another commentor points to a similar incident in the city of Brest, where the stabbing of a bus driver resulted in all buses heading straight back to the depot. A more cynical commenter suggests not even bothering to collect fares anymore when traveling through "certain" regions.

Where will this all end? Just like the garbage collectors, utility workers and firefighters needing police escorts to operate in these "sensitive" areas, pretty soon bus drivers will demand equal protection. Who could blame them? Arguably even the police now need police escorts in order to properly do their jobs in these neighborhoods…

[The foreboding building in the photo is the notorious “Chateau d’If”, the Alcatraz-like offshore prison located near Marseilles, readily familiar to Alexandre Dumas fans for its role in the novel “Count of Monte Cristo”. Maybe it’s time to put it back to its old use..?]

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Who Is Jamming Cell Phones In France

Using cell phone jammers is an act subject to a 450 euro fine in France, a nation where only prisons and auditoriums are authorized to use equipment that may render mobile phones inoperative.

So begins a recent article in last week’s French media site Rue89, on the new phenomenon of gadgets that cut out other people’s cell phones, and the reaction of manufacturer Magnum Telecom in light of an official warning to stay within the law of France when marketing and selling such devices.

The article concerns itself mostly with exploring the potential consequences (pros and cons) this newer technology might have in store for society. Buried towards the end of the piece is this small piece of information stemming from an admission by the manufacturer of the cell phone jammers:

“The largest market for cell phone jammers in France, are the mosques”, explains [Pierre-Yves Daumas], who has supplied a couple dozen mosques and a few synagogues.

“They turn them on during prayer, then leave them off the rest of the time.”

A novelty that especially concerns the RG [“Renseignements Generaux”, Central Direction of General Intelligence, the intelligence service of the French police], [French newspaper] Le Point reported back on December 20:

“The RG are concerned about no longer being able to record imams on the sly in their prayer rooms. A recent internal note warns that more and more mosques are using jammers that prevent infiltrated police officers from using their portable cell phones to record the imams.”

The comment about mosques is made in passing, with no follow-up clarification from an imam or other representative on why they are using this supposedly illegal equipment. Maybe people were calling so much to attempt to deliberately disrupt the proceedings that illegal options seemed the only recourse; maybe there's something to hide. Why isn't this a story all its own, surely it is significant news? The way in which stories like these are covered in the French press, they always leave so many unanswered questions, as if the people involved lived in some far-off inaccessible country, rather than only a phone call away. (Maybe the cell phone jammers were actually in use each and every time the reporters at Rue89 called for a reaction on the story, and so they missed getting one in time for the deadline..!)

In leaving their explanation out of the story, does the media not want to know what they have to say? What's going on here?

It is reassuring, however, to learn that somewhere within the French government, there exist people who want to keep tabs on whether the mosques of France might be preaching a more radicalized islam than the talking heads on their television news shows are willing to admit may exist within the state. Somewhere, someone is doing their job.

Towards its conclusion the article compares the practice of the mosques with the position taken by France's Christian churches regarding illegally jamming cell phones during services:

The Catholic Church prefers to “put their faith in the civic-mindedness of its faithful, who come to reflect in silence and turn off their cell phones as they arrive”, noted the Conference of bishops.
At our Church they don't even ask us to shut them off, they just assume we already do it. There are rarely if ever any interruptions warranting a cell phone jammer. (I remember only one occasion in the whole of the previous year where this happened)
Maybe the authors of the piece just never attend church, to know whether it is normal or not to be preventing the faithful from having access to their cell phone while worshiping God...

[Hat tip to french blog Le Conservateur]

Belgium's Al Qaida Fan Club

Brussels youth attack police, are tracked down, and are found surfing an al-qaida website when police arrive to arrest them.

Translated from Belgian news site Derniere Heure [exclamation points in original]:
A bus shelter that no longer shelters anything, thousands of shards of glass on the ground... these are the remains of an ambush set Friday night on the Brussels-Capitale-Ixelles police... youth from the neighborhood of Versailles, in Brussels, made Molotov cocktails. They planted them in several key areas, near apartment buildings, and when they were ready to receive the police, they simulated a fight...

Around 4:30 pm, according to Brussels police headquarters, dispatch was informed that a fight had seemingly broken out between several youths on Versailles avenue. A patrol rides to the scene and on arrival is assaulted by the youth who do not hesitate to hurl fiery projectiles towards the car.

Reinforcements were naturally called for. Numerous police cars are quickly at the scene. Meanwhile, the youths have multiplied themselves! There were more than thirty teens armed with axes and Molotov cocktails looking to hurt the forces of law and order.

Finally, the fiery youth disappeared, leaving behind them a sorry spectacle. The homemade explosives had completely destroyed the bus shelter. Several glass bottles containing gasoline corked with newspaper were found on scene. During a search of the area, investigators discovered a 10-liter can of gasoline! The police also captured a panoply of prohibited weapons, such as brass knuckles and axes.

We don't dare imagine the fate they had in mind for the police!

Thanks to the clues uncovered [at the scene], investigators quickly identified some of the perpetrators. And then, surprise... When [the youth] had returned home, they busied themselves in surfing an al-qaida website!

Four youths were arrested. Ali, 18 years old, was quickly released. On the other hand, Ismael, M., 17 years old (known to police for one [prior]incident), Ali B., 18 years old (known for 8 incidents), and Yassine D., 16 years old (known for 5 incidents), were retained at headquarters.
[Hat tip to Francois deSouche]

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Red Star vs. Mop and Wail: Free Speech, Canadian style

Well, they're coming late to the party, but maybe the tide is turning when even the Toronto (red) Star allows a column to grumble about free speech. But note the title of journalism prof Kelly Toughill's piece: Censorship not the answer. Not the answer to what? Well, I imagine that would be to the fantasized Utopia that is the real driver of left-liberal (Gnostic) thought. Anyway, a few excerpts:
Ezra Levant is a tough guy to defend. In general, he cherishes everything I abhor, and abhors everything I cherish. Still, he is mostly right in his quixotic battle against the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
The guy is completely abhorrent to you? Well, are we really going to take anyone who engages is such apotropaic gestures - casting out demons - seriously on a question of free speech? (That's an interesting question, I think - what does it tell us about the sacrificial rituals that we still seemingly need in order to guarantee our freedom...)
The issue is not whether Levant should have published the cartoons, or whether Maclean's has been fair in depicting Muslims. The issue is who gets to decide what the press can publish and what the public gets to read.

We should not give government that power. Human rights commissions are created by government legislation. Members are appointed by politicians. The criteria and standards they enforce are set by politicians.
Close, but in fact the legislated criteria and standards they enforce have been heavily influenced by judicial and in-house, closed door, "human rights" tribunal decisions. The purpose of all this lawyer busy-bodying, it seems to me, is to enable judges and lawyers to prove that they are great metaphysical gymnasts capable of balancing competing rights and freedoms, even if it means that innovative speech must constantly worry it could be put through the grinder of judicial review, at great expense of time and money. The great balancing the judges dream about, in the fantasy of a perfect judicial weighing (and woe to those who would upset the perfect balance), can only come at the expense of injecting chunks of cholesterol into the networks of exchange on which a free society depends so heavily if it is to find new ways to transcend its ever-grinding, eroding, resentments, and preserve its freedom.
The acts also say they shouldn't interfere with freedom of expression, but they already have. It is time-consuming and expensive to defend yourself against a human rights complaint, even if the complaint is eventually dismissed. All three human rights agencies are still in the preliminary stages of the complaint process. None has been referred for formal hearings.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association founder Alan Borovoy is one of Levant's defenders.

"I was involved in campaigns to create the human rights commissions," he says. "It never occurred to any of us that human rights commissions would be used to muzzle the free expression of ideas."

Levant is wrong to focus his wrath on the human rights commissions themselves. They are simply following their mandate, following the law. The responsibility for fixing this problem lies with their political masters.
Now, at this point, I'm almost in agreement with the writer, after her opening rituals of disassociation, but I think Ezra is quite right to detest anyone who sits on these thought crime tribunals. Pretty much any job in the country is more noble nowadays. And yet, Levant's interrogator still assumed a handshake would be forthcoming to her after "following her mandate". I guess at the Toronto (red) Star, they haven't yet learned that fascism is always about "just following orders" (here's the extreme case) with middle-class sincerity and respectability.

So, that's my casting out for you. Still Toughill is right that after chapter one in Ezra's story we must all move on to the crux of the issue: our freedom to act politically and to tell the politicians to change the thought-crime-engendering legislation.

Now let's turn to another Toronto newspaper, that figures itself the official voice of Canada's liberal and professional elites. I don't often tout the Globe and Mail, it usually being too busy helping to insure that the risks of a free society are always carefully measured and regulated by the mutually-accrediting professional classes. But today, behind their online subscription wall, we find a neat weekly column from one of the few freedom fighters on the payroll, Mr. Rex Murphy. You might want to go out and buy a copy of the print edition. But since maybe you can't, and because we want to make some fair comment, here are some excerpts:
Our esteemed human rights commissions are so busy these days, it worries me.

The number of these gimlet-eyed scrutineers is, after all, finite.

There is, therefore, only a limited store of and moral fervour for them to call upon. In a brutish world, righteousness is not inexhaustible; virtue, like oil, has its peak moments and, with their current agenda, Canada's HRCs may run out of fuel.
Alberta's Human Rights Commission, one of the keenest, a noble avatar of those old censor boards that used to guard public libraries from "steamy" literature and "brazen" language, is trying to contain - I think that is the only proper verb here - Ezra Levant.

Mr. Levant has, as the jargon expresses it, "gone before" the commission to answer for the putative crime, offence, tastelessness of his (now defunct) magazine, the Western Standard's publication of the Mohammed cartoons. But even the sturdiest tribunal can summon forces too large for it to manage. And even the deepest probing commissioner, alert as a tuning-fork to the harmonies of political correctness, should have quailed before the thought of putting Ezra Levant under state-mandated interrogation.

His initial hearing is an Internet hit. He videotaped it, you see, and against the urgings of the commission placed in on the World Wide Web.

His performance, a marathon aria to free speech, looks to outpace even Jessica Alba beach footage as a web draw. More than 400,000 visitors have YouTubed Mr. Levant (A Daniel, I say, a Daniel come to judgment on Canadian free speech!). He is as a tidal wave breaking against a lone and solitary craft.
do they really want - after Ezra's example, mind you - to call Mark Steyn, the Victoria Falls ("The Smoke that Thunders") of prolific columnists - into one of their style-less chambers to "explain himself?" If Mr. Levant contains multitudes, how to describe Mr. Steyn? He is a prodigy of immense resource and industry. Compared to him, Trollope was a slacker, Dickens a wastrel, and Proust a miniaturist. He inundates. Books, columns, blogs and obiter dicta in a thousand venues - If Mr. Steyn goes before one or all of these commissions, he will be firing off columns between questions. He'll write a column on a question while it is being asked. I urge our guardians to consider their own interests:

Stay a while before essaying this profitless and useless venture.
this is too much at one time for the meticulous and tidy tribunals that alone are our guardians against every stray thought that might fracture our fabulously delicate Canadian sensibilities. While they are preoccupied with Steyn-Levant, overwhelmed, exhausted and undone by Steyn-Levant, battered, borne-down on and befuddled
by Steyn-Levant - who will watch out for us?

Who will there be to read before we read, and tell us what is proper for us? Who will be there to edit the editors, to copy check the copy checkers? Who will shield our vulnerable law-students, and who will tend to the commission's most industrious serial complainant. There is one person, so eggshell brittle that he has drummed up a fierce amount of business for the HRCs. Is so loyal a customer now to be ignored because the Steyn-Levant tsunami is about to rumble mercilessly on shore?

Mostly I fear, If the HRCs are tied up, Canadians will be reading, unguided, what they choose to read, deciding for themselves what they like and what they don't, will discard a book or pass it to a friend, like a column or curse one - lit only by the light of their own reason.

The horror!
Now why can't journalism schools produce more free-minded contempt like that?

What I fear is that this will all somehow blow over - most of those Youtube hits on Ezra's stand came from outside Canada, I have read - and we will go back to being normal good Canadians, people who defer to judges and tribunals to negotiate our differences, because we don't have the courage or energy to realize that it is each of us who owns our vaunted "multicultural" society, that it is we who get to decide, by dint of our aggregated daily interactions, what cultural multiples thrive and what gets marginalized in this country, free to follow its own marginality except for what is a clearly violent threat to others. Let's start phoning the politicians, and see if they know what Rex Murphy is talking about. Serial complainer?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Canadian politics: increasingly polarized by antisemitism

Charles sent me this link yesterday: CCD applauds Harper government for withdrawal of support for UN 'anti-racism' conference
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, 23 January, 2008

Ottawa, Canada - The Stephen Harper government has withdrawn its support for a UN anti-racism conference scheduled to take place next year in South Africa, according to a media release today from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity, said today that the conference, like its predecessor in 2001, "has gone completely off the rails... Canada is interested in combating racism, not promoting it. We'll attend any conference that is opposed to racism and intolerance, not those that actually promote racism and intolerance".

"Canadians are shocked when they hear the clear and simple expression of reality by their leaders," said Alastair Gordon, president of the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD). "We are used to hearing double-speak from our politicians -- fantasies that are at odds with the reality that most Canadians see and the values that they hold."

The last UN anti-racism conference held in Durban in 2001 degenerated into a hate-fest of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel vitriol, while the most egregious human rights violators escaped criticism. The Toronto Star today reported that "all of the non-governmental organizations invited to the first conference have been invited back to the second, including those that were at the 'forefront of the hatred', some of which posted pro-Hitler posters at the 2001 gathering."

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is in charge of planning for the conference, an entity that has directed 93% of its resolutions on human rights violations at just one nation - Israel. Iran is a member of the organizing committee, despite its government's open call to wipe the Jewish homeland off the face of the earth.

"The Stephen Harper government has again demonstrated that Canada can project power as a moral leader in international affairs," added Gordon. "A nation does not need a massive military to provide the moral leadership and clarity that denies legitimacy to Orwellian UN agencies that hijack the language of human rights to promote Jew-hatred.

"Stephen Harper has signaled that Canada will act on principle, regardless of UN consensus. This is the stuff of global leadership."
This news drew a reply from Khaled Mouammar, Canadian Arab Federation National President, as noted by Kate at Small Dead Animals. Mouammar states:
Canada's outright rejection of the [UN anti-racism] conference sends a clear message to the Canadian public that the current government is disinterested in promoting human rights and anti-racism. The very fact that Israel was "attacked" at the previous conference indicates that the international community and human rights organizations are in agreement that the occupation of Arab lands, the mistreatment and killing of Palestinians, and the denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return is in violation of international law and will be condemned and no longer accepted.


"We would also like to remind Jason Kenney that he is a Minister of the Canadian government, not the racist Israeli government; still, CAF is not surprised with Minister Kenney's position given his outright contempt for the Arab and Muslim communities in Canada and his condoning of Islamophobia. This is the same man who attacked a Muslim organization for lodging a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Maclean's Magazine for publishing an inflammatory and bigoted article, and who slandered Canadian NGO's at an OSCE Conference in front of the international community"
Kate then goes on to note that Mouammar gained notoriety by circulating a flyer at the last leadership convention of the Liberal Party of Canada, denouncing leading leadership candidate, Bob Rae, for his Jewish connections. As we reported, there was apparently a campaign of slander at the convention, directed at the fact that Bob Rae's wife is Jewish and an official with the Canadian Jewish Congress; and this campaign seems to have led to support for the successful candidacy of the current Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, who, according to Kate, has yet to comment on, or to denounce, this convention vileness.

Anyway, I recently saw the name Khaled Mouammar attached to a comment on the Globe and Mail online article by the four law students taking Mark Steyn and Maclean's to the "human rights" tribunals:
Khaled Mouammar from Richmond Hill, Canada writes: Jewish American writer, Isidore Feinstein Stone, stated that 'Every war, every outburst of genocide, is prepared by propaganda which paints the vicitm, the Other, as less than human. This is the ultimate lesson of Auschwitz, he who treats his brother as less than human prepares the path to the furnace.' Mark Steyn's article in Maclean's Magazine, intentionally or unintentionally, appears to be spreading racism against Muslims by insinuating that the rising number of Muslims in Western societies is sinister and threatens to destroy western societies.

The presentation of the Muslim as a menace, a terrorist, a shadowy figure who operates outside of the accepted value system and is therfore to be feared and mistrusted has gone on for too long and is undermining the multicultural and tolerant fabric of Canada. This racist image of the Muslim is nothing more than the result of the tranference of the popular anti-Semitic animosity from a Jewish to a Muslim target.
There was then a thoughtful reply to this Mouammar from one George Brown - probably someone taking the name of the Globe's founding publisher, the pre-Confederation politician from Canada West.
' Khaled Mouammar from Richmond Hill, Canada writes: Jewish American writer, Isidore Feinstein Stone, stated that 'Every war, every outburst of genocide, is prepared by propaganda which paints the vicitm, the Other, as less than human.... This racist image of the Muslim is nothing more than the result of the tranference of the popular anti-Semitic animosity from a Jewish to a Muslim target.'

I hear this argument often now. It's not true. Judeophobia (strictly speaking there is no 'Semitic' race or religion) is a reaction to the people who claim to be first in covenant with the One God, those who don't give God a name (to be compared with other names in contests over the Greatest God) but who start a new historical era by defining God: 'I am what I am'.

Islamophobia is a reaction to the people who come relatively late to the world of monotheism and who base their claims, not to having the New New Testament, but to having the Koran, the eternal uncreated word of God, that the Jews and Christians who came before never knew entirely or have somehow forgotten or corrupted.

Racism is not racism is not racism. Jews are a race and a religion, Muslims are not. Jews, when hated, are hated for being 'first', for being religious discoverers, which in the hater's mind becomes something conspiratorial. It is an attack on the successful, something still widely allowed in commentary on Israel. Muslims, when hated, are hated for being outsiders with a righteous claim to overcome those who previously left them marginal.

I see no evidence Canadians are laying the ground for a Holocaust of Muslims. I, for one, want to defend your individual freedom to be whoever you want to be; and that means contesting certain group resentments and their claims on the state. A free society can only be based on individual rights, not group claims.
I'm stretching the metaphor, but Stephane Dion needs to take a lead from his great liberal party antecedent, "George Brown", not to mention from Stephen Harper, a man who consistently stands for what he knows is right, with regard to Israel and antisemitism, notwithstanding the political consequences it will have. In contrast, Dion seems willing to reap the rewards. Let's just hope Harper can find the support among Canadians for a majority government so that he can more actively oppose the untruths made in the name of "human rights" in this country.

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The creativity of the free mind - Levant on a blogger legal defence fund

Ezra Levant floats what I think is a brilliant idea: a legal defense fund to protect bloggers if they face defamation law suits or the Canadian "human rights" tribunals. As he notes, any such system of mutual aid would require bloggers to live up to some code of conduct or system of mutual observation, in order to protect against the bankruptcy of a mutual insurance system by what is known in the insurance industry as "moral hazard".

But Levant reminds me that much of the strength of classically liberal North American culture was built up in the nineteenth and early twentieth century by people organizing themselves in a myriad of fraternal/sororal and mutual insurance organizations, the architectural remnants of which (buildings now often converted to immigrant churches, here in Vancouver) you can spot in most North American cities. Buried in academic libraries you can find historical reference works listing the many thousands of these institutions. The value of such institutions, which were in large part destroyed by the Depression, World War II, large corporations, and the rise of the welfare and mommy state, is that when people self-organize to meet all variety of mutual insurance needs they also create all variety of social networks that can serve many needs. When scholars abstractly talk about the loss of "social capital" in the postmodern age, it is the loss of mutual insurance covenants, of people working to guarantee each other's freedom, that they are really talking about.

I encourage all bloggers to consider and pursue Levant's idea.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Covenant Zone meets every Thursday

7-9 pm, in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, in front of Blenz Coffee. Look for the blue scarves. Maybe this week we will be discussing the "human rights" scandal. Join us if you can and would like to talk about how we can really protect each other in a free society.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bagatelle Battleground: France fights back

Reading the recent news of urban guerrilla violence in the French suburb of Bagatelle, outside Toulouse, it's hard to come to grips with the fact that this isn't Baghdad we're reading about, but a city in the nation of France.

Living with a crime wave rising from 227 acts of violence in 2006, to 405 committed by November 2007, the residents of Bagatelle are in desperate straights.

Earlier this year, one incident seemed to be the tipping point for the forces of law and order in the region. Translated from a report in the French newspaper La Depeche, an account of one incident too many:

Jean-Paul Breque, controller general of public security: "At 7:30 pm, we were alerted to a car on fire. A unit from the anticriminality brigade arrived very quickly on-scene. The team was set upon by about fifteen individuals. The officers were not able to continue. We had to mobilize reinforcements.

This took a while...

In Toulouse, we oversee 500,000 citizens. We can not concentrate our forces into just one neighborhood. And if the firefighters arrive alone, they are immediately targeted. It is my responsibility that neither they, nor my own men take short-sighted risks ["inconsidérés", in original... "inconsiderate risks"? I think he means "unnecessary risks"...] Especially when the cars burn away from inhabited areas. At least, out of immediate danger.

For residents, facing a burning car, these minutes are interminable...

I sympathize with them. This will always be too long. As soon as our forces were sufficient, we advanced and the opponents disappeared very quickly. They were pursued to du Cher street where a hail of stones were curbed by the use of tear gas. The site was then secured and firefighters could proceed.
The solution: an occupation force will be sent into the troubled region. Again from the article:
This time, enough is enough. After weeks of demands from exasperated residents... the securing of the Bagatelle neighborhood, a "sensitive" suburb of Toulouse, has been announced. [On January 9th], police dispatched a sizable force. Officials specializing in maintaining order, in identity verification, and even a team of dog trainers. "And we're staying the time that will be required. The time until certain young residents understand that there exists other ways of amusing themselves besides burning cars and pelt police and firefighters with stones. And until the time when the people find the calm they deserve", said controller general Breque, chief of public security.
That's a pretty vague exit strategy. I guess that means that they are never leaving..?

Sadly, the surge seems only to be exacerbating the potential for savagery in the neighborhood youth. A recent sniping raid by thugs resulted in a riot police officer getting his face burned by fire from a tossed Molotov cocktail. Thankfully, he escaped with wounds much less serious than might have been the case.

Another translated article from La Depeche has the details:
The stonings of police officers in sensitive neighborhoods repeats itself at a troubling rate and the neighborhood of Bagatelle has once again become the frame for one of these assaults. Monday, shortly after 10 pm, a CRS [riot police] police van was being driven through the city. In the heart of the sensitive sector, at the corner of du Lot and du chemin [streets] in Bagatelle, a dozen youths placed themselves behind the police van and threw five incendiary missiles. Three of these Molotov cocktails hit the CRS vehicle in a rear window. They broke into flames as they shattered upon the metal plate sides. The window was damaged, and some flaming liquid was projected into the interior [of the vehicle]. One of the CRS was struck in the face by this spray and was burned in his temple and cheekbone. First degree burns and therefore fortunately lightly wounded, representing three days of lost work. The assailants took flight.
The police unions have strongly denounced yesterday's actions. UNSA ["Union nationale des syndicats autonomes", National union of autonomous unions] is alarmed over "the trivialization of these urban guerrilla actions. Police on this patrol as well as other intervening teams have been profoundly shocked by this attack in general". These situations, continues the union, will conclude "inevitably in tragedy". "We demand that all means be put into effect so that the perpetrators of these events can be identified and charged with attempted homicide", says a union spokesperson...
To really be effective, the troop surge needs to be accompanied by moves to stem the flow of new insurgents crossing over the border and replenishing the ranks of the rebel forces holding out in their remaining strongholds in the no-go-zones. Otherwise this conflict can only lead to a war of attrition, with a daily drip-drip-drip of news stories about mounting casualties that will weaken the resolve of the voters to continue to support an armed presence in the region.
But that's just me playing armchair general...

All humor aside, Godspeed to these besieged people as they try to take back their neighborhoods. May the state be on their side, for a change.

[More on Toulouse's urban violence here.]

[Thanks to the tireless Tiberge at GalliaWatch for alerting me to these new developments in Bagatelle.]

Are you next? After me?

In an article in today's National Post, Terry O'Neill brings our attention to
Section 7 of B.C.'s human rights act [which] makes it an offence for any person to publish "any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation" that so much as "indicates discrimination or an intention to discriminate" against a protected group, or "is likely to expose a person or group or class of persons to hatred or contempt." No actual discrimination or hatred has to occur for an offence to occur. And, as pointed out on these pages over the past few weeks, truth is not a defence.
Did you know you were living in a totalitarian society where you can't speak the truth if there is any chance someone or some group who is privileged, by the state, to be considered more socially or culturally marginal than you, claims to be hurt by what you say or write? Were you aware that to think is to discriminate and, effectively, to hate evil? and that to be human is to be inescapably resentful in some degree, to feel alienated by someone who is closer to the sacred center of attention than are you? Did the British Columbia NDP government that passed the above-quoted section of the Human Rights Act - which should be considered unconstitutional and long ago thrown out (but it's still here) - ever win an election on the question of whether British Columbia should be a totalitarian state where you cannot express (and hopefully make productive) your inevitable human resentments of others?

No, because the people who pass such legsialation are not themselves aware that they are full of hate and contempt, especially for those they declare - with much passion - full of hate and contempt: e.g. the Archie Bunker stereotype, the "bigoted white male Christian", the "reactionaries" who act as what Rene Girard called "mimetic doubles" for our heroic "progressives". No, our left-liberal elites think they're secular, but they have a very powerful religion, of a Gnostic variety, that responds to the great and gut-wrenching uncertainties of our conflict-ridden human existence by looking for guarantees of self-righteousness. They're against hate and contempt, you see. They must be on the side of the holy. They're right, and you contemptible one are not, unless you "think" and chirp like them. It's oh so Utopian and feel-goody.

To understand how their religion works, we have to understand their utter dependence on the figure of the victim, around which their self-righteous consensus develops. They are, to put it bluntly, a variety of death cult, of human sacrificers, only less honest about it than were, say, the Aztecs, or less aware of how their need for victims - in order to appear politically self-righteous in supposedly defending victims - tends to lead to the production of the needed victims, if only (but it is not only) most obviously by the stigmatization of "right-wing religious bigots" (which in turn creates a desire for a class of people to go through life as the putative victims of "right-wing religious bigots". In extreme cases the cult of "human rights" leads "freedom fighters" to make victims of "their" own people to put on display before the world media, always in need of victims of modern Western States, in order to champion a cause.

What would be a simple example of this religion's mindset? Well consider this excerpt from another opinion piece in today's National Post, regarding the scandal of the Canadian "human rights" police. Barry Cooper tells the story of a Christian who apparently thought he had the right to a critique of homosexuality (not of the personhood of homosexuals, which as a Christian he must consider divine), long a part of a Judeo-Christian culture for reasons that we could debate (if we lived in a free society):
Last November, Lori Andreachuk, QC, a Lethbridge divorce lawyer and chair of an Alberta human rights panel, decided that, by writing a letter to the editor, Stephen Boissoin exposed homosexuals to hatred and contempt, which violated the Alberta human rights act.

[...the]entire ["Human Rights"] process is skewed. Most obviously in that complainants get a free ride and defendants pay full legal freight. The taxpayers of Alberta paid for Levant's interrogation. A lawyer from the Alberta Attorney General's office was present at the Boissoin-Lund panel.

This meant that, unlike the procedure in a genuine court, even if the defendant wins, he loses -- money, if nothing else -- and even if the complainant loses, he wins by ensuring that potential critics will think twice about speaking up.

Worse, the common-law rules of evidence do not apply so that the most bizarre and unconnected phenomena can be introduced as if they were relevant. These tend to involve the "feelings" of the defendant. In principle, human rights panels are inquisitorial bodies operating in what is usually an adversarial legal context, but they lack the balance that characterizes both systems taken on their own terms.

Incidentally, the government lawyer at the Boissoin-Lund panel asked me one of the strangest questions I have ever answered in many cross-examinations as a so-called expert witness. "How," he asked, would I "distinguish" Boissoin's letter to the Red Deer Advocate from Hitler's Mein Kampf? I resisted the temptation to give the reply that came immediately to mind and provided a more or less civil answer.
But Barry - and this is my example and point illustrating the Gnostic and victimary religion that motivates the "Human Rights" world view of today's liberals - this insane question is not at all incidental to the mindset of those who promote and prosecute thought crimes. It is a perfect example of how the central revelatory event of the religion of White Guilt - i.e. the Holocaust - allows one to lose all sense of differences and scale: everything is reduced, or inflated, to the central truth: that Western Society, as exemplified by the middle-class and professional-led Nazis, can, when taking its "norms" and "prejudices" seriously, result in the absolute and unquestionable victimization of the perfectly innocent "Jew" by the perfectly evil "Nazi", and with the more or less active co-operation of every "normal" person and profession in the country. That did happen in 1930s-40s Germany, so does that mean we in contemporary Canada can't be trusted to do any better with our freedoms? But if we can't, how can we be protected from our "protectors" and their ideas about who is a victim and who a victimizer?

Once the guarantee of the righteousness of the "victim" is determined by simply invoking memory of the Holocaust, all that remains for the neo-fascists of the "human rights" police is to insure that every worthy or potential victim of Western norms can now be clothed in the dress of the "Jew" and everyone who is in a position of normalcy, authority, power, or success in the Western world can be labelled a "Nazi". Many will have noted the leftist glee with which the Israelis and Americans have become the new Nazis. Those who have developed the power and means to lead and feed the world are now often the epitome of evil. Nazi antisemitism has given way to new left antisemitism. Mimetic doubles.

And so, the poor bugger who writes a "homophobic" letter to the editor can be fined and possibly jailed, be banned from speaking on given issues, because there is no essential difference - at least not in our human rights law - between his little Christian text and Mein Kampf. All sense of empirical discrimination - i.e. reference to facts and calm reasoning about the degree of one's reliance on the victim figure - is thrown out the door in a religious rush to the New Utopia. It is a passion that only creates a need for more victims in the guise of defending them.

I would like to be a bit more reflective about all this, but I'm damn angry (not that I ever get too angry) and I want to get this post up now, so I will conclude by quoting a better mind, Tom Bertonneau on the authors Howard Schwartz and Eric Gans:
The politically correct university is not only, as Schwartz notes, a "psychological regression" (159) into infantile narcissism, it is likewise a cultural atavism, a relapse into archaic, indeed sacrificial, forms of communal organization that belong more properly to the Stone or Bronze Age than to the twenty-first century of the Christian Era. I return here to the work of Gans, who argues in Signs of Paradox[1997]the Holocaust represents a cultural turning point in the Western moral imagination, by verifying in a massively empirical way the essential Christian revelation that communal solidarity based on persecution and victimization is evil. "Our ideal moral certainties are re-grounded in the opposition between (Nazi) persecutor and (Jewish) victim" (188). But it is really a good deal more complicated than this, because:
The descent of the absolute into the empirical world is the moment of its undoing. As soon as we posit an absolute difference between victim and persecutor, the underlying symmetry of their relation reasserts itself. When the SS torturer becomes the villain of the war film, he is turned into a sacrificial figure, a scapegoat, [a] structural equivalent of the Jud Suss in Nazi cinema. In the already tiresome clarity of this asymmetry, culture has been abandoned to youth; adults are too world-weary to participate wholeheartedly in the eternal and now transparent structure of victimary resentment. Group resentment has replaced individual resentment - the point of essential difference between the high and the popular - as the primary object of cultural deferral. (188-189)
Gans remarks how
a long-lost Dionysian frenzy reappears in the ecstatic forms of postwar popular culture, in its music and dance, the audience of which more than that of any other popular form incarnates "the people." These central dramas of the youth-culture are not coincidentally the most subject to black and other minority influences. The rhythms and chord progressions of popular music dissolve individuality in a real or imaginary group movement that is the historical heir to sacrificial ritual. They create, in an imaginary context, the resentful unanimity of the sparagmos [ripping apart and distribution of the sacrifice or victim]. (189).
Schwartz's "Revolt of the Primitive" and Gans's atavism of a minoritized "youth culture" are, I believe, aspects of the same epochal cultural transformation. The primordial mother is the ringleader and youth (always in a rainbow coalition of sexually ambiguous misfits) are her press gang. Schwartz interprets the phenomenon more pessimistically than does Gans, who notes, but does not particularly stress, the sacrificial character of the new, resentment-driven forms of collective identification. Yet Gans does admit that "what is new in our era is the promotion of non-integrative local theories - as though they were the only theories conceivable and it were no longer possible for the human community to think of itself as a whole" (198). He also notes how "feminism and other minority approaches, which maintain their link with universal thought only through the unacknowledged mediation of the Christian centralization of the victim, are fast driving out other forms of cultural interpretation" (198). Gans' "non-integrative local theories" are nevertheless deeply troubling, not least because their most recent prototype appears to lie exactly in the ferocious biological dualism of Hitlerian anti-Semitic policy, as "non-integrative" as you can get. Paradoxically, of course, the proliferating new ubermenschen find their superiority to all others in their own alleged victimization, which then becomes the pretext to victimize all who would deny the in-group's special (mother-authorized) victim-status. The lese, as it were, proves the majesty. Where the lese does not exist, which means just about everywhere, it is necessary to invent it. There is much burning of the Reichstag. Schwartz catches the same paradox, noticing that the eidos of women in the regime that they now obviously control is a contradictory one, simultaneously a picture of "passive, hopeless victim" and "exemplars of the primordial mother" (158).
Bertonneau, Gans, and Schwartz are liberating thinkers, devoted to the true liberation of each and every individual, regardless of sex or race, from group passions and resentments. But I have my doubts if anyone in British Columbia would dare publish them, given the expensive frustrations the new Nazis of the Candian "human rights" commissions could throw at you for revealing an ugly religion - their religion - for what it is.

As Barry Cooper says, in the conclusion to his article, "Grow Up, People". Now is the time to demand our politicians pay attention to the growing outcry, so far limited largely to cyberspace, and insist they remove from all human rights legislation the ability of the state to police "hate speech". One may argue for retaining a criminalization of an incitement to violence, but in a free society we are best protected from hate by everyone having the freedom to speak out and show the hateful what they are, in full light of day. The state cannot really protect us, for it is the biggest threat. We must each, as individuals, sign a covenant to act as guarantors of each other's freedom. As the Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant cases make clear, we as a civilization presently have no sane understanding of what human rights really are. And if the Mainstream Media are any indication, we have little will to stand up and defend them, in face of state evil. If you need a better understanding start by reading Cooper and O'Neill in full, two of only a few opinion pieces you will find in the Canadian papers; digest their arguments and then sit down and do your civic duty and write your provincial and federal politicians and tell them to fire the censors, now! They have no right to impose their religion and need for victims on the rest of us. They are not the good guys. You are, if you act now, in defense of freedom which is always the surest guarantee of our ability to minimize human violence. There is not some all-wise figure in the government, some Gnostic elect, who know how to do it better than millions of Canadians, liberated to speak their minds, to defend each other, in daily life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Mark Steyn:
Evidently, I've committed The Ultimate Canadian Crime: Questioning whether a state-funded CBC comedy show is funny.


The allies of Islamofascism are liberals and progressives whose pansexualism and multiculturalism seem far away from the strict code of behavior of Islam.

The key to understanding the conundrum is this: which side is trying to move away from human sacrifice? Which utilizes at its heart the fallen human trait of gathering around the victim(s) killed by the community? Answer that, and you understand the strange bedfellows of jihad.
Also noted at Athos': It seems like Robert Spencer is favoring Mitt Romney:

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More on the Cartoons and Free Speech

I haven't had time to write what I want on what this scandal with the "Human Rights" Tribunals is revealing about our culture. In the meantime, I'll just post a few links to things I found helpful.

Our old friend Krishna109 reminds us that the scandal that the cartoons stirred up was not immediate or spontaneous to the publishing of the cartoons in Egypt. The scandal had to be stirred up; it was well-manufactured by those who wish the world to know that Islam cannot be criticized without consequences. Whatever the official pretense for the anti-cartoon riots, there have long been images of Mohammed about. See "Forbidden" Images of Mohammed - Merely a Big Hoax? and
Why Democracy? - Bloody Cartoons

There are many useful links in Krishna's posts; unfortunately the links to the Youtube versions of a BBC program on the cartoons no longer work.

Meanwhile, Jay Currie has some interesting thoughts on
Why the HRC fight is important. Apparently the European political class is giving in to the idea that freedom of expression does not mean the right to offend, which is a pretty scary idea. Since it is not possible for any political actor to avoid giving offense - if you think about it for a moment - the idea implies that there will be a dictator or ruling class that will tell us what we can and cannot say. By all reports, that's quickly becoming the situation in Western Europe.

Will Canada join them? Has it already? Write your parliamentarians and let them know what you think.

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