Anti-Socialist Tendencies

Friday, June 25, 2004

Despite all the talk about the need for moderate Islamic ideas to become ascendant in the Muslim world, it seems that the urge to bash Islam is so strong that it can't even be restrained when faced with someone who promotes that very moderation. Case in point: Today's FrontPage symposium on The Koran and Anti-Semitism. On the Muslim side is Prof. Khaleel Mohammed, known for his controversial claim that anti-Semitism is unIslamic, backing it up with theological arguments based on the Qu'ran. Surely this is a stance that the other symposium participants, Robert Spencer and Bat Ye'or, are delighted with and are happy to support, you say. Nope. Both go after him and effectively argue past the case he makes, Spenser more so than Ye'or. Spenser especially comes across as one of those "western writers [who] take verses from the Qur'an, style themselves as experts, and then go about with wrong interpretations," as Prof. Mohammed so cogently puts it. Now, I don't expect them to be nothing but sweetness and light toward Mohammed (especially given the emotional nature of the topic) but at the very least I expect reasonable people to recognize who is on their own side for crying out loud! Choose thoughtfully what topics you decide to contest rather than lashing out on every point and undermining a potential ally's support in the process.

We need to stop this stupidly self-destructive behavior, folks. The Muslim world will not improve unless moderates like Mohammed get the support they need. Leave the theological debates to the Muslim theologians, since they actually know the material -- reading a few of the most scandalous suras and hadiths does not make you an expert on Islam. By all means point out the hateful and threatening statements of the radicals, but do not be so utterly idiotic as to effectively argue that their case is indeed the correct one!

Monday, June 21, 2004

In 1983, following seven years of pressure from Greenpeace, the new European Parliament outlawed baby seal pelts in Europe. This miserably affected the life of the 100,000 Inuit living in the Canadian Arctic... In the years following the seal pelt ban, an economic winter swept across the Canadian Arctic, and welfare figures soared. In Canada's tiny Clyde River, nearly half of the population was soon collecting unemployment checks. As their lives soured, their social problems escalated. Many Inuit turned to alcohol and drugs. Crime and family violence doubled. The despair led to an epidemic of suicides, mostly by young man. There were 47 suicides among Canadian Inuit in the 11 years before the ban, but 152 in the same period after it.

--- Liu Xiaogan, in Daoism and Ecology, p. 319

Friday, June 11, 2004

There's a new blog out dedicated to going after Noam Chomsky: diary of an anti-chomskyite. Unfortunately, those who most badly need to read it probably won't...


Orson Scott Card lets loose with a rant on liberal bias in the media. He does a good job emphasizing how statements that are superficially true are organized in such a way as to promote a biased final impression.

Thursday, June 10, 2004
God Save [Us From] the Queen

This morning's interesting proclamation:

Claim: The Queen of England is the real power behind the American government -- she controls our government's actions and has final word on everything. Our Revolution was just a superficial sham. [And as everyone knows, the Queen is a Reptilian, so our government is ultimately controlled by Extraterrestrials.] And by the way, did you know the Queen had Princess Diana murdered because she was about to expose the truth about the English Throne?

Response: Oh man, I really need to move out...

(Previous entry in this series)

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The firebombing of the once-beautiful German city of Dresden stands out in the popular imagination as the greatest indictment of the air war over Europe during World War II. Without fail, it is brought out in every condemnation of British Air Marshall Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, wartime head of Bomber Command. It also has special personal significance to me, as many of my mother's classmates died in the attack, having been sent to Dresden on the assumption that the city would be safe from air raids. Given the emotional weight of the subject, it is difficult to separate legend from fact, but a new, in-depth book attempts to do so. Although not the primary focus of the book, it puts forth a balanced justification of viewing Dresden as a legitimate military target:

As the seventh largest city in Germany, Dresden possessed a substantial industrial center with a number of precision engineering companies (the Zeiss-Ikon optical factory being perhaps the most well-known.) The city's reputation may have been built on its luxury industries, but Taylor reveals how the same factories that produced the typewriters, sewing machines, lingerie, cigarettes, and waffle irons easily made the wartime transition to produce searchlights, directional guidance equipment, aircraft and torpedo parts, machine guns, cartridge cases, and various other armaments. Cultural city or not, the Dresdeners' contribution to the German war effort was not insignificant. As Taylor notes, the 1942 Dresden Yearbook trumpeted the city's stature as "one of the foremost industrial locations of the Reich."

Equally important as the contribution of materiel was Dresden's strategic role as a major transportation hub, particularly toward the end of the war. With the situation growing increasingly dire on the Eastern Front, the city's railways were busy carrying reinforcements and supplies to the beleaguered German Army (in addition to evacuating the growing number of refugees fleeing the steady and brutal advance of the Soviets.) Add to this the fact that the Wehrmacht still enjoyed a well-functioning communications system in the city, and it's difficult to see how Dresden could have appeared to the war-weary leaders of Bomber Command as anything but a legitimate -- and increasingly desirable -- military target.

The book also revises downward the inflated death toll propagated by things such as Kurt Vonnegut's seriously overrated novel Slaughterhouse Five.

None of this should minimize the horror of the incident, and the author does seem to keep this in his sight amid all the historical analysis. Dresden should stand, however, not as a unique evil but rather as a reminder of the end result of becoming locked into the bloody logic of total warfare, which may ultimately lead to you to acts that could never be countenanced in the beginning of hostilities. Every time one goes to war -- no matter how justified -- this risk must be faced, and everything possible done to ensure that the humanity of all involved is not utterly lost.


The mainstream media is paying attention to the phenomenon of punk conservatism again: For conservative punks, it’s about (equal) time. Aside from prompting some ideological musing, however, I wonder if this movement will have much significance considering the perennial apathy of most youth voters.