Muslim morality 3

This comes from MEMRI. Any commentary by us would be superfluous.

Islamic State (ISIS) Releases Pamphlet On Female Slaves

December 4, 2014

“Question 1: What is al-sabi?

“Al-Sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the people of war] who has been captured by Muslims.

“Question 2: What makes al-sabi permissible?

“What makes al-sabi permissible [i.e., what makes it permissible to take such a woman captive] is [her] unbelief. Unbelieving [women] who were captured and brought into the abode of Islam are permissible to us, after the imam distributes them [among us].”

“Question 3: Can all unbelieving women be taken captive?

“There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women [who are characterized by] original unbelief [kufr asli], such as the kitabiyat [women from among the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians] and polytheists. However, [the scholars] are disputed over [the issue of] capturing apostate women. The consensus leans towards forbidding it, though some people of knowledge think it permissible. We [ISIS] lean towards accepting the consensus…”

“Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?

“It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive. Allah the almighty said: ‘[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame [Koran 23:5-6]’…”

“Question 5: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession [of her]?

“If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, if she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first]…”

“Question 6: Is it permissible to sell a female captive?

“It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of [as long as that doesn’t cause [the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage.”

“Question 7: Is it permissible to separate a mother from her children through [the act of] buying and selling?

“It is not permissible to separate a mother from her prepubescent children through buying, selling or giving away [a captive or slave]. [But] it is permissible to separate them if the children are grown and mature.”

“Question 8: If two or more [men] buy a female captive together, does she then become [sexually] permissible to each of them?

“It is forbidden to have intercourse with a female captive if [the master] does not own her exclusively. One who owns [a captive] in partnership [with others] may not have sexual intercourse with her until the other [owners] sell or give him [their share].”

“Question 9: If the female captive was impregnated by her owner, can he then sell her?

“He can’t sell her if she becomes the mother of a child…”

“Question 10: If a man dies, what is the law regarding the female captive he owned?

“Female captives are distributed as part of his estate, just as all [other parts] of his estate [are distributed]. However, they may only provide services, not intercourse, if a father or [one of the] sons has already had intercourse with them, or if several [people] inherit them in partnership.”

“Question 11: May a man have intercourse with the female slave of his wife?

“A man may not have intercourse with the female slave of his wife, because [the slave] is owned by someone else.”

“Question 12: May a man kiss the female slave of another, with the owner’s permission?

“A man may not kiss the female slave of another, for kissing [involves] pleasure, and pleasure is prohibited unless [the man] owns [the slave] exclusively.”

“Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?

“It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.”

“Question 14: What private parts of the female slave’s body must be concealed during prayer?

“Her private body parts [that must be concealed] during prayer are the same as those [that must be concealed] outside [prayer], and they [include] everything besides the head, neck, hands and feet.”

“Question 15: May a female slave meet foreign men without wearing a hijab?

“A female slave is allowed to expose her head, neck, hands, and feet in front of foreign men if fitna [enticement] can be avoided. However, if fitna is present, or of there is fear that it will occur, then it [i.e. exposing these body parts becomes] forbidden.”

“Question 16: Can two sisters be taken together while taking slaves?

“It is permissible to have two sisters, a female slave and her aunt [her father’s sister], or a female slave and her aunt [from her mother’s side]. But they cannot be together during intercourse, [and] whoever has intercourse with one of them cannot have intercourse with the other, due to the general [consensus] over the prohibition of this.”

“Question 17: What is al-‘azl?

Al-‘azl is refraining from ejaculating on a woman’s pudendum [i.e. coitus interruptus].”

“Question 18: May a man use the al-‘azl [technique] with his female slave?

“A man is allowed [to use] al-‘azl during intercourse with his female slave with or without her consent.”

“Question 19: Is it permissible to beat a female slave?

“It is permissible to beat the female slave as a [form of] darbta’deeb [disciplinary beating], [but] it is forbidden to [use] darb al-takseer [literally, breaking beating], [darb] al-tashaffi [beating for the purpose of achieving gratification], or [darb] al-ta’dheeb [torture beating]. Further, it is forbidden to hit the face.”

Question 20: What is the ruling regarding a female slave who runs away from her master?

“A male or female slave’s running away [from their master] is among the gravest of sins…”

“Question 21: What is the earthly punishment of a female slave who runs away from her master?

“She [i.e. the female slave who runs away from her master] has no punishment according to the shari’a of Allah; however, she is [to be] reprimanded [in such a way that] deters others like her from escaping.”

“Question 22: Is it permissible to marry a Muslim [slave] or a kitabiyya [i.e. Jewish or Christian] female slave?

“It is impermissible for a free [man] to marry Muslim or kitabiyat female slaves, except for those [men] who feared to [commit] a sin, that is, the sin of fornication…”

“Question 24: If a man marries a female slave who is owned by someone else, who is allowed to have intercourse with her?

“A master is prohibited from having intercourse with his female slave who is married to someone else; instead, the master receives her service, [while] the husband [gets to] enjoy her [sexually].”

“Question 25: Are the huddoud [Koranic punishments] applied to female slaves?

“If a female slave committed what necessitated the enforcement of a hadd [on her], a hadd [is then] enforced on her – however, the hadd is reduced by half within the hudud that accepts reduction by half…”

“Question 27: What is the reward for freeing a slave girl?

“Allah the exalted said [in the Koran]: ‘And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass [hell]? It is the freeing of a slave.’ And [the prophet Muhammad] said: ‘Whoever frees a believer Allah frees every organ of his body from hellfire.'”

 

(Hat-tip Lee Raulin, commenter on our Facebook page.)

Posted under Ethics, Islam, Muslims, Slavery by Jillian Becker on Thursday, December 11, 2014

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Why we matter 2

Here’s one of the most important reasons why The Atheist Conservative needs to exist. Why what we have to say is important. Why we must make ourselves heard.

From Fox News comes this story of an atheist of the left. In everything except his atheism, he couldn’t be more wrong.

If you sign up for Denver college professor Charles Angeletti’s American Civilization class, be forewarned that you’re going to have to recite his invective-filled “New Pledge” – and according to some of his students, also be ready to swallow a big helping of his politics.

Angeletti, who teaches at Metropolitan State University of Denver, has students learn an anti-American spoof of the Pledge of Allegiance that denounces the U.S. as a Republican-controlled bastion of injustice, all while spewing his own far-left brand of politics, according to current and former students.

The professor hands out this “pledge” on a flier to his students and demands that they repeat it.

I pledge allegiance to and wrap myself in the flag of the United States Against Anything Un-American. And to the Republicans for which it stands, two nations, under Jesus, rich against poor, with curtailed liberty and justice for all except blacks, homosexuals, women who want abortions, Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis, illegal immigrants, children of illegal immigrants, and you, if you don’t watch your step.

The anti-U.S. recitation, first reported by higher education blog Campus Reform, was a satirical pledge aimed at getting students to question their nation’s leadership, Angeletti said. The self-proclaimed atheist and socialist told the site that he has been distributing the pledge in his classes for nearly 20 years as part of his lesson plan.

“We’re very racist, we’re very repressive, we’re very Christian oriented, we don’t tolerate other kinds of thinking in this country,” Angeletti told Campus Reform. “I could go on and on – and do, in my classes, for hours about things that we need to do to make this a better country.”

Could anything be further from the truth?

Consider that a majority of voters twice elected a black man (though he was completely unqualified for high office) to the presidency, many of them just to prove they were not racist. But see how America has again become over race-conscious as a result. President Obama and his attorney-general Eric Holder  are race-hustlers, working with others of their kidney; most prominently Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Malik Zulu Shabazz (head of the New Black Panther Party). Racism is now mostly expressed by black politicians, black trade union bosses,  black politicians  and “community organizers”.

The  voices calling loudly for repression in the US are those of politically-correct lefties.

We too dislike Christianity, and we exist to prove that one can be conservative, a defender of the Constitution, a free marketeer, an advocate for states’ rights, and a patriot without believing in the supernatural, or bible literalism, or creationism, or that “Jesus” is a god or a part of a god, or in that rump of a godthing they call “intelligent design”. Our existence alone disproves his caricature of conservative thought.

And equally that one can be an atheist without being – yes – “Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis”;  or politically-correct progressives, Alinskyite community organizers, whitewashers of Islam, collectivists, redistributionists and America-hating racists.  

As for “not tolerating other kinds of thinking”, the US is the one country in the world which really does protect freedom of speech. The Left of course would change that if it could.

Academia is dominated by lefties like this professor, and – what is more and worse – his comrades are at present occupying the commanding heights of power.

 A student from Angeletti’s class told Campus Reform that the flier was handed out to the entire class and all students were required to recite it.

“This was an attempt to propagandize an entire classroom of young adults,” Steven Farr, a freshman majoring in meteorology, told the blog site.

Officials at Metropolitan State University of Denver did not immediately return requests for comment. The 24,000-student school has the second-highest undergraduate enrollment in the state and has several notable Division II sports programs. It also bills itself as a top choice for active-duty military and veterans to pursue higher education, and has several notable Division II sports programs.

We wonder what the active-duty soldiers and the vets think of Professor Charles Angeletti’s ravings.

Ah! – Fox tells us:

“This is typical elite, progressive, post-modernist garbage,” said Pete Hegseth, a Fox News contributor and CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “I hope and believe that vets in his class will challenge this professor. We have seen this time and time again. Lessons like this stack the deck against veterans and basically tell them, you fought for nothing,” Hegseth added. “You fought for a lie.”

 

(Hat-tip to our Facebook reader and commenter, Joe Compton. He rightly believes that to counter the lies of ill-informed, malicious, anti-America atheists like this, is why The Atheist Conservative exists.)

The taking down of America 11

President Obama believes that America is arrogant.* If his foreign policy can be explained by anything, it would be his intention to bring America down a peg or ten. Looked at like that, the disasters we see happening in many parts of the world are testimony not to  Obama’s failure, but to his success.

Not that President Obama can have any objection to arrogance as such. He is an arrogant man. He just doesn’t want America to be proud of its superiority. He hates the very idea that it is superior. But while he would not even acknowledge its political-moral superiority as a republic constituted for liberty, he cannot deny that it is economically and militarily stronger than any other country. So he’s been working to change that for the last six years.

The whole world is the worse for his efforts.

This is from Front Page, by Bruce Thornton:

The 6 years of Barack Obama’s foreign policy have seen American influence and power decline across the globe. Traditional rivals like China and Russia are emboldened and on the march in the South China Sea and Ukraine. Iran, branded as the world’s deadliest state sponsor of terrorism, is arrogantly negotiating its way to a nuclear bomb. Bloody autocrats and jihadist gangs in the Middle East scorn our president’s threats and behead our citizens. Countries in which Americans have shed their blood in service to our interests and ideals are in the process of being abandoned to our enemies. And allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia are bullied or ignored. All over the world, a vacuum of power has been created by a foreign policy sacrificed to domestic partisan advantage, and characterized by criminal incompetence.

Incompetence is what it looks like. But if failure is the aim, then either the incompetence is only an appearance, or it is a means to the end.

How we have arrived at this point, the dangers to our security and interests if we don’t change course, and what must be done to recover our international prestige and effectiveness are the themes of Bret Stephens’ America in Retreat. The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. …

A clear sign of American retreat is the precipitous decline in military spending. “In the name of budgetary savings,” Stephens writes, “the Army is returning to its June 1940 size,” and “the Navy put fewer ships at sea at any time since 1916.” The Air Force is scheduled to retire 25,000 airmen and mothball 550 planes. Our nuclear forces are being cut to meet the terms of the 2010 New Start Treaty with Russia, even as its nuclear arsenal has been increasing. Meanwhile Obama … issues empty threats, blustering diktats, and sheer lies that convince world leaders he is a “self-infatuated weakling”.

Unfortunately, 52% of the American people agree that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally”,  and 65% want to “reduce overseas military commitments”, including a majority of Republicans. This broad consensus that America should retreat from global affairs reflects our age’s bipartisan isolationism, the centerpiece of Stephens’ analysis. This national mood is not a sign of decline, according to Stephens, who documents the enormous advantages America still enjoys globally, from its superiority in research and entrepreneurial vigor, to its healthy demographics and spirit of innovation. But it does bespeak a dangerous withdrawal from the policies that created the postwar Pax Americana – even though this global order policed by the U.S. defeated the murderous, nuclear-armed ideology of Soviet communism, and made possible the astonishing economic expansion that has lifted millions from poverty all over the world. …

For Stephens, isolationism has not been the only danger to American foreign policy success. What he calls “the overdose of ideals”, specifically the “freedom agenda” of the sort George W. Bush tried in Iraq and Afghanistan, has misdirected our efforts and squandered our resources in the pursuit of impossible goals. The success of the Cold War and the subsequent spread of democracy and free-market economies suggested that the world could be not just protected from an evil ideology, but “redeemed” by actively fostering liberal democracy even in countries and regions lacking the necessary network of social mores and political virtues upon which genuine liberal democracy rests. But in attempting to redeem the world, Stephens notes, policy makers “neglected a more prosaic responsibility: to police it”.

The failures to create stability, let alone true democracy, in Iraq and Afghanistan have enabled what Stephens calls the “retreat doctrine”, one to be found in both political parties. Barack Obama is the master of this species of foreign policy, incoherently combining idealistic democracy-promoting rhetoric with actions that further withdraw the U.S. from its responsibility to ensure global order. Under the guise of “nation-building at home,” and in service to traditional leftist doubt about America’s goodness, Obama has retreated in the face of aggression, and encouraged cuts in military spending in order to fund an ever-expanding entitlement state.

But also, equally, in order to make America weaker.

Meanwhile, “Republicans are busy writing their own retreat doctrine in the name of small government, civil liberties, fiscal restraint, ‘realism’,  a creeping sense of Obama-induced national decline, and a deep pessimism about America’s ability to make itself, much less the rest of the world, better.”

The “retreat doctrine” is dangerous because global disorder is a constant contingency. The remainder of Stephens’ book approaches this topic first from the perspective of theory and history, and then from today’s practice. History teaches us that all the substitutes for a liberal dominant global power have failed to prevent the descent into conflict and mass violence. The ideas of a balance of power, collective security, or the presumed peaceful dividend and “harmony of interests” created by global trade did not prevent World War I or its even more devastating sequel. Nor are they any more useful in our own times.

As for today, Stephens identifies several challenges to a global order fragilely held together by the commitment to liberal democracy, open economies, and the free circulation of ideas and trade. The “revisionists” attack this model from various perspectives. Iran sees it as a fomenter of godlessness and hedonism, Russia is moved to oppose it by “revanchism and resentment”,  and China believes that it “is a recipe for bankruptcy and laziness”,  lacking a “sense of purpose, organization, and direction”.  All three see evidence for their various critiques in the failure of the U.S. to exercise its massive power in the face of challenges, and in the willingness of American elites to revel in guilt and self-doubt. These perceptions of national decline invite rivals and enemies to behave as if the U.S. is in fact declining.

The other international players that could worsen disorder are “freelancers” and “free radicals”.  The former include those countries like Israel or Japan who, convinced that America will not act in its own or its allies’ interests, will understandably take action that necessarily entails unforeseen disastrous consequences. Much more dangerous are the “free radicals”, the jihadist gangs rampaging across 3 continents, and the nuclear proliferators like Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, whose collaboration with each other and rogue regimes like Venezuela endangers the world through provoking even further proliferation on the part of rivals, or by handing off nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations. And then there are “free radicals” like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, who have undermined global order by publicizing the necessarily covert tools, practices, and institutions that undergird and protect it.

Finally, there are the structural weaknesses of the globalized economy and its continuing decline in growth, which may create “breaks” in national economic systems that “will be profoundly disruptive, potentially violent, and inherently unpredictable”. Add America’s retreat from world affairs and reductions in military spending, and in the “nearer term”, Stephens warns, “terrorists, insurgents, pirates, hackers, ‘whistleblowers’,  arms smugglers, and second-rate powers armed with weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles will be able to hold the United States inexpensively at risk”,  provoking further American retreat from world affairs and the inevitable increased aggression by our enemies and rivals.

 So what can be done? In his conclusion Stephens applies to foreign affairs the “broken windows” tactics of urban policing that caused rates of violent crimes to plummet over the last few decades. Thus “the immediate goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to arrest the continued slide into a broken-windows world of international disorder”.

This foreign policy would require increasing U.S. military spending to 5% of GDP, with a focus on increasing numbers of troops, planes, and ships rather than on overly sophisticated and expensive new weapons. It would mean stationing U.S. forces near global hotspots to serve as a deterrent and rapid-reaction force to snuff out incipient crises. It would require reciprocity from allies in military spending, who for too long have taken for granted the American defense umbrella. It would focus attention on regions and threats that really matter, particularly the borderlands of free states, in order to protect global good citizens from predators. It means acting quickly and decisively when conflict does arise, rather than wasting time in useless debates and diplomatic gabfests. Finally, it would require that Americans accept that their unprecedented global economic, cultural, and military power confers on us both vulnerability to those who envy and hate us, and responsibility for the global order on which our own security and interests depend.

No matter how understandable our traditional aversion to military and political entanglements abroad, history has made us the global policeman, one committed to human rights, accountability, and political freedom. If we abdicate that position, there is no country powerful, or worthy enough, to take our place.

We agree with that.

And Thornton tantalizes us with this:

Stephens ends with an imagined “scenario” of how a serious global disruption could occur, one grounded in current trends and thus frighteningly believable.

When we’ve found out what that scenario is, which is to say when we’ve read the book, we’ll return to this important subject.

 

*  “In his first nine months in office, President Obama has issued apologies and criticisms of America in speeches in France, England, Turkey, and Cairo; at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations in New York City. He has apologized for what he deems to be American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, and for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, and for feeding anti-Muslim sentiments; for committing torture, for dragging our feet on global warming and for selectively promoting democracy.” – Mitt Romney, quoted by PolitiFact.com

The French pandemonium 4

Today we post under Pages (listed at the top of our margin) the next essay in the series by Jillian Becker titled The Darkness of This World (Part Two).

The title of the new essay is The French Pandemonium (One).

It continues a discussion of the Romantic movement which – the series argues – arises from the same need in the human psyche that requires religion. In France, the most influential poets, novelists, essayists and philosophers have been those who have cultivated rebellion against what they call “bourgeois society”. Some of the most eminent of them bluntly declare that their rebellion is a choice of Evil.

Of course not all the French writers of the post-Enlightenment centuries have been Romantics or conscious advocates of Evil. But those who “chose Evil” stoked the fires of destructive rebellion in generations of European intellectuals and have had by far the greater effect on history. In the twentieth century they became so popular and powerful that they helped create the New Left; incited seasons of violent protest demonstrations on city streets throughout Europe and even on other continents; inspired the formation of European terrorist gangs; and implanted their anti-civilization ideology as a new dogma in schools and academies throughout the Western world, including America. As the series continues it will explain how the anti-Americanism of the Left, even in America itself, springs from the European intellectual movement against our civilization.

Here is the first part of the essay:

A pandemonium is a gathering of all the demons or devils. Devils are expected to be noisy, so the word has come to mean a deafening cacophony of shrieking voices.

What the voices of this pandemonium clamor for, is “Evil”. It is not an insult to call them demons; it is an acknowledgment of their choice. They choose Evil, they call for Evil, they acclaim Evil, they are for Evil.

And what are they against? They are against What Is. They are against our civilization. They are against the bourgeois, whom they hold responsible for everything that’s wrong with our civilization: free enterprise industrialization; liberal democracy; parliamentarianism; conservatism.

It was in France that the clamor was loudest among certain poets and novelists and philosophers to épater le bourgeois – shock the bourgeoisin the nineteenth century, reaching a crescendo between the world wars of the twentieth century, rising again after the end of the second. A racket of foaming hate; a literary hue and cry after the middle-class citizen.

As you may have noticed, the bourgeoisie is, in fact, the all-achieving class. Almost everything of value since the Enlightenment, including the Enlightenment itself, has issued from the middle-class; every invention, every discovery, every advance, with so few exceptions they can be counted on a few of your fingers. But to the demons of poetry and philosophy and revolution, the bourgeois was everything that was wrong with Life: the bourgeois with his politesse, his prudence, his order and cleanliness, his comfortable house, his good-quality clothes, his well-stocked larder, his prosperity, his faithfulness to duty, his thrifty habits … “No, no,” the scornful voices yell, interrupting me. “Its not just that, it’s … it’s … it’s his complacency, his bad taste, his narrow-mindedness, his privilege, his exploitation of underdogs, his obsession with material things – and his stupid sexual inhibition. Those, don’t you see, are the unbearable traits that make him a worthy target of our artistic fury. He does not, cannot feel as we do. Down with him! Grind him into the dust! ”

But it is the againstness itself that characterizes the demons. If every one of those despicable things about the bourgeois were overcome or destroyed (as every one of them was in Communist Russia), and civilization wholly laid to waste, the urge would rage on, its hunger unappeased, hunting its everlasting prey: What Is. To them, as to the Gnostics of old, everything that is here is bad; the good lies beyond.

Whatever words have been used to describe the Paris fashions in scorn – modernism, post-modernism, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction – they are all expressions of rebellion. To be a rebel is to be heroic. Despised and rejected by the bourgeois herd, the rebel is a martyr to his deep passion for art, his higher vision of a better world.

To protest against the bourgeois idea of what is good, the demons advocated doing whatever the bourgeois considered evil. They placed themselves in a French counter-tradition, a line that runs from Rousseau with his belief in the primacy of feeling and sentiment, through Robespierre with his Terror, the Marquis de Sade with his penchant for sexual torture, the nineteenth century poets Charles Baudelaire with his Flowers of Evil and Arthur Rimbaud with his Season in Hell, and on through the intellectual trend-setters – whom we will come to – of twentieth century French literature and their continuing effects. There are still reigning French demons in the twenty-first century. It is a dynasty of the defiant. …

You can find all of it here.

Sauce for the Israeli goose … 4

… is not the same for the Coalition gander.

General Dempsey reported on Israel’s extraordinary efforts to avoid harming civilians.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told an audience in New York that he believed the Israel Defense Force went to “extraordinary lengths” to limit civilian casualties in this past summer’s military conflict in Gaza.

The military leader was speaking to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

In addition to praising the IDF’s efforts to limit civilian casualties, Dempsey also said that the Pentagon sent a team to Israel to see what lessons could be learned from the IDF’s expertise during Operation Protective Edge. This included observing the measures taken by the IDF to prevent civilian casualties and the way in which the Israeli military dealt with the terror tunnels.

The reason this is such extraordinary news is that Israel was criticized harshly and repeatedly for failing to prevent the heavy loss of civilian life during the conflict, which saw more than a thousand Gazans die, including many civilians and children. Various human rights entities accused and continue to accuse Israel of committing war crimes. Even the White House and State Department repeatedly claimed Israel failed to do enough to prevent civilian casualties.

But when asked to address the alleged “callous indifference” by Israel to the extensive damage and civilian deaths, Dempsey told the audience that he thought the IDF “did what they could” to avoid civilian casualties.

“I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties,” Dempsey told the group. “In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties,” he added.

Dempsey said Hamas had turned Gaza into “very nearly a subterranean society” with tunneling throughout the coastal enclave.

“That caused the IDF some significant challenges. But they did some extraordinary things to try and limit civilian casualties,” Dempsey said, which included “making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure,” Dempsey said.

In addition to dropping warning leaflets, Dempsey said, the IDF developed a technique called “roof-knocking.” This involves dropping a low-yield explosive or non-explosive device on a rooftop. This “knocking” is a warning to residents to leave the building before it is shelled. Of course, even this effort to limit civilian casualties was criticized for not being gentle enough.

Dempsey said civilian casualties during the summer’s conflict were “tragic, but I think the IDF did what they could” to avoid them.

“The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties. They’re interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel,” Dempsey said.

(It  should also  be remembered that Hamas, the elected government of Gaza, used civilians – children in particular – as human shields, often forcing them to remain in the very buildings they had been warned were to be bombed.)

Whatever lessons the team from the Pentagon learnt from the IDF’s expertise at taking measures to prevent civilian casualties, were apparently not applied by the US when the Air Force bombed IS/ISIS/ISIL in Iraq.

AP reports:

US bombing kills children in Iraq.

Iraq’s prime minister on Wednesday ordered his first major shakeup of his military since taking office three months ago, relieving 26 army officers of their commands and retiring 10 others as a monitoring group said airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group and other extremists in neighboring Syria have killed more than 860 people, including civilians, since they began in September. …

On Wednesday, three bombings in and around the Iraqi capital killed at least 17 people and wounded nearly 40, police and hospital officials said.  …

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that at least 50 civilians, including eight children and five women, also have been killed in the airstrikes, the group said.

The mainstream media do not feature these deaths. The TV news screens of the West are not filled with images of these dead children. They are of less concern than the dead children of Gaza. Because the hearts of the hardboiled media bleed only when the Israelis are doing the bombing.

What did the Obama administration have to say about all this?

When Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to stop the flood of rockets being launched at its cities, and particularly when it mounted a short ground operation to locate and destroy infiltration tunnels under the border, there was the predictable response from the UN, the NGOs and Israel’s usual critics that it was causing ‘disproportionate’ civilian casualties in Gaza. Surprisingly (or not), the Obama Administration and State Department joined the chorus.

You probably recall John Kerry’s sarcastic remark that Israel had carried out a “hell of a pinpoint operation”.  And you may remember that back in July, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that “there’s more that could be done [by Israel]” to reduce civilian casualties. There are also reports of a particularly “combative” phone call from President Obama to PM Netanyahu during the war.

So [on November 8], the intrepid Matt Lee of the AP asked Psaki whether the Chairman of the JCS knew what he was talking about:

QUESTION: Yesterday, the ICC made its decision that there was no case to prosecute for war crimes in Gaza. But also yesterday – and you spoke about that very briefly here. But also yesterday, General Dempsey, who is no slouch when it comes to military things, told an audience in New York that the Israelis went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage during the Gaza war.

And I’m puzzled, because I thought it was the position of the Administration – or maybe it was just the position of the State Department and the White House – that Israel was not doing enough to live up to its – what you called its own high standards. Back on August 3rd, there was the statement you put out after the UNRWA school incident, saying that the U.S. “is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling’. And that was some pretty fierce criticism.

How do you reconcile these two apparent divergent points of view? When this statement came out, the United States was appalled? Did that just mean the State Department was appalled?

  1. PSAKI: No, that is the position of the Administration; it remains the position of the Administration. As we made clear throughout the summer’s conflict, we supported Israel’s right to self-defense and strongly condemned Hamas’s rocket attacks that deliberately targeted civilians, and the use of tunnels, of course, of attacks into Israel. However, we also expressed deep concern and heartbreak for the civilian death toll in Gaza and made clear, as you noted in the statement you pointed to, that we believed that Israel could have done more to prevent civilian casualties, and it was important that they held their selves to a high standard. So that remains our view and position about this summer’s events.

QUESTION: Okay. But I’m still confused as to how you can reconcile the fact that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – who knows a bit about how military operations work, I would venture to guess; I don’t know him, but I assume that he wouldn’t be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if he was – if he didn’t —

  1. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: — says that the Israelis essentially did the best that they could and lived up to – by extension lived up to their high standards by taking – by going to, quote, “extraordinary lengths” to limit the collateral damage.

  1. PSAKI: Well, I would point you to the chairman’s team for his – more specifics on his comments. But it remains the broad view of the entire Administration that they could have done more and they should have taken more – all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties.

But the Coalition is not required to do the same? Apparently not.

So is there an element of special treatment for Israelis? Do anti-Semitic Europe and anti-Israel pro-Islam Obama set the moral bar higher for Israelis than for any others – or for themselves?

To borrow a saying: We report, you decide.

The terrifying politics of kindness 22

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’. – Ronald Reagan

We quote from an essay titled The Case Against Liberal Compassion by William Voegeli (via PowerLine):

All conservatives are painfully aware that liberal activists and publicists have successfully weaponized compassion. “I am a liberal,” public radio host Garrison Keillor wrote in 2004, “and liberalism is the politics of kindness.” Last year [2013] President Obama said, “Kindness covers all of my political beliefs. When I think about what I’m fighting for, what gets me up every single day, that captures it just about as much as anything. Kindness; empathy—that sense that I have a stake in your success; that I’m going to make sure, just because [my daughters] are doing well, that’s not enough — I want your kids to do well also.” Empathetic kindness is “what binds us together, and . . . how we’ve always moved forward, based on the idea that we have a stake in each other’s success”.

Well, if liberalism is the politics of kindness, it follows that its adversary, conservatism, is the politics of cruelty, greed, and callousness. Liberals have never been reluctant to connect those dots. In 1936 Franklin Roosevelt said, “Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” In 1984 the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, “Tip” O’Neill, called President Reagan an “evil” man “who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations . . . . He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood”.  A 2013 Paul Krugman column accused conservatives of taking “positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable”. They were, he wrote, “infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness . . . . If you’re an American, and you’re down on your luck, these people don’t want to help; they want to give you an extra kick.” …

Voegeli goes on to discuss, not how wrong this hugely mistaken and antagonistic view of conservatism is, but why liberalism fails; why government “kindness” is never enough to achieve its ends; why it is self-defeating.

He finds the root cause of its failure in a contradiction: that while the politician of kindness claims to be altruistic, his real motivation is self-gratification.

He recalls the words of a man who was a chief inspirer of the French Revolution:

As Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in Emile, “When the strength of an expansive soul makes me identify myself with my fellow, and I feel that I am, so to speak, in him, it is in order not to suffer that I do not want him to suffer. I am interested in him for love of myself.” …

We can see the problem. The whole point of compassion is for empathizers to feel better when awareness of another’s suffering provokes unease. But this ultimate purpose does not guarantee that empathizees will fare better. Barbara Oakley, co-editor of the volume Pathological Altruism, defines its subject as “altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm.” Surprises and accidents happen, of course. The pathology of pathological altruism is not the failure to salve every wound. It is, rather, the indifference — blithe, heedless, smug, or solipsistic — to the fact and consequences of those failures, just as long as the empathizer is accruing compassion points that he and others will admire. As philosophy professor David Schmidtz has said, “If you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, it isn’t.”

Indeed, if you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, the failure of government programs to alleviate suffering is not only an acceptable outcome but in many ways the preferred one. Sometimes empathizers, such as those in the “helping professions” acquire a vested interest in the study, management, and perpetuation — as opposed to the solution and resulting disappearance — of sufferers’ problems. This is why so many government programs initiated to conquer a problem end up, instead, colonizing it by building sprawling settlements where the helpers and the helped are endlessly, increasingly co-dependent. Even where there are no material benefits to addressing, without ever reducing, other people’s suffering, there are vital psychic benefits for those who regard their own compassion as the central virtue that makes them good, decent, and admirable people — people whose sensitivity readily distinguishes them from mean-spirited conservatives. “Pity is about how deeply I can feel,” wrote the late political theorist Jean Bethke Elshtain. “And in order to feel this way, to experience the rush of my own pious reaction, I need victims the way an addict needs drugs.”

It follows, then, that the answer to the question of how liberals who profess to be anguished about other people’s suffering can be so weirdly complacent regarding wasteful, misdirected, and above all ineffective government programs created to relieve that suffering — is that liberals care about helping much less than they care about caring. Because compassion gives me a self-regarding reason to care about your suffering, it’s more important for me to do something than to accomplish something. Once I’ve voted for, given a speech about, written an editorial endorsing, or held forth at a dinner party on the salutary generosity of some program to “address” your problem, my work is done, and I can feel the rush of my own pious reaction. There’s no need to stick around for the complex, frustrating, mundane work of making sure the program that made me feel better, just by being established and praised, has actually alleviated your suffering.

This assessment also provides an answer to the question of why liberals always want a bigger welfare state. It’s because the politics of kindness is about validating oneself rather than helping others, which means the proper response to suffering is always, “We need to do more,” and never, “We need to do what we’re already doing better and smarter.” That is, liberals react to an objective reality in a distinctively perverse way. The reality is … that public expenditures to alleviate poverty, insecurity, and suffering amount to $3 trillion, or some $10,000 per American, much of it spent on the many millions of Americans who are nowhere near being impoverished, insecure, or suffering. If the point of liberalism were to alleviate suffering, as opposed to preening about one’s abhorrence of suffering and proud support for government programs designed to reduce it, liberals would get up every morning determined to reduce the proportion of that $3 trillion outlay that ought to be helping the poor but is instead being squandered in some way, including by being showered on people who aren’t poor. But since the real point of liberalism is to alleviate the suffering of those distressed by others’ suffering, the hard work of making our $3 trillion welfare state machine work optimally is much less attractive — less gratifying — than demanding that we expand it, and condemning those who are skeptical about that expansion for their greed and cruelty.

We do not dispute Voegeli’s point that the motivation behind the “politics of kindness ” is self-gratification.

But is he saying that’s all that’s wrong with them? He wants liberals to be less satisfied with their incomplete efforts and “stick around” and “make sure” the program  has actually worked. Which means that he thinks that socialism – to give the “politics of kindness” its real name – could “actually alleviate suffering”. Nowhere in this essay does he explicitly point out that it could not and should not attempt to. In fact, he considers the possibility, and while he says he does not reject the evidence for these “possibilities”, he prefers to believe it is the superficiality of the liberals who try to legislate benevolently that makes it all go wrong.

The problem with liberalism may be that no one knows how to get the government to do the benevolent things liberals want it to do. … It may also be, as conservatives have long argued, that achieving liberal goals, no matter how humane they sound, requires kinds and degrees of government coercion fundamentally incompatible with a government created to secure citizens’ inalienable rights, and deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.

I don’t reject any of those possibilities, or deny the evidence and logic adduced in support of each. But my assessment of how the liberal project has been justified in words, and rendered in deeds, leads me to a different explanation for why, under the auspices of liberal government, things have a way of turning out so badly. I conclude that the machinery created by the politics of kindness doesn’t work very well — in the sense of being economical, adaptable, and above all effective — because the liberals who build, operate, defend, and seek to expand this machine don’t really care whether it works very well and are, on balance, happier when it fails than when it succeeds.

Which leaves open the possibility that a different set of liberals might be more sincere, work harder, and succeed where none has succeeded before. They might do it more economically and effectively.

Finally, as if nagged by a doubt that his explanation for the failures of liberalism is not sufficient after all, he mentions “beliefs that have sustained America’s republic”, and “those moral virtues and political principles necessary to sustain it further”, without saying what they are:

Those of us accused of being greedy and cruel, for standing athwart the advance of liberalism and expansion of the welfare state, do have things to say, then, in response to the empathy crusaders. Compassion really is important. … But compassion is neither all-important nor supremely important in morals and, especially, politics. It is nice, all things being equal, to have government officials who feel our pain rather than ones who, like imperious monarchs, cannot comprehend or do not deign to notice it. Much more than our rulers’ compassion, however, we deserve their respect — for us; our rights; our capacity and responsibility to feel and heal our own pains without their ministrations; and for America’s carefully constructed and heroically sustained experiment in constitutional self-government, which errs on the side of caution and republicanism by denying even the most compassionate official a monarch’s plenary powers.

Kindness … doesn’t begin to cover all the beliefs that have sustained America’s republic, however. Nor does it amount to a safe substitute for those moral virtues and political principles necessary to sustain it further.

The principles he does not name are the ingredients of the constitution of liberty. And they are incompatible with – in fact, totally exclude – the “moral virtues” and principles of socialism.

No government should take from you what you have earned and give it to others as socialism requires. To do so is not only unkind but unjust. Who is being kind when a government takes from you what you have earned and gives it to someone else? It is not kindness but tyranny.

It has been proved amply over the last hundred years that the more government interferes in the lives of the people “for their own good”, ever expanding as it seizes ever more power, the more miserable and impoverished the people become. Or to put it succinctly, as a hard rule: The fatter the government, the thinner the people.

Obama’s record alone is enough to prove this rule.

Those who claim to know better than you do what is good for you, will impose that “good” on you whether you like it or not. What they want is the power to control you, not your happiness.

The truly good government protects you with the law from being harmed by others, but leaves you free to do yourself good or harm.

The saying of Jean-Jacques Rousseau that Voegeli quotes is honest-sounding, and on the surface of it, strong advocacy for the politics of “kindness”. But what happened in reality when the Fellow Man rejected the good that was being thrust upon him by the Rousseau-inspired re-organizers of society? He had to be forced to accept it. Dissent and disobedience had to be punished with death. Rousseau, through his ardent admirer Robespierre, was also the chief inspirer of the Terror which immediately followed the revolution. The guillotine became the most effective instrument of what our contemporary American organizers of society like to think of as the Politics of Kindness.

The low and lawless spirit of the Democratic Party 2

How deeply has the Democratic Party sunk into immorality and lawlessness?

Out of many possible examples of its descent into both, this is one.

We quote part of an article by Heather Mac Donald at the Wall Street Journal:

The Rev. Al Sharpton once epitomized New York’s bad old days of the 1980s, when the then-corpulent, gold-medallion-bedecked tub thumper inflamed racial hatred and courted violence. Today, against all expectations and at least 100 pounds lighter, he has been rehabilitated into the Democratic Party’s civil-rights leader of choice. Has Mr. Sharpton changed or simply outlasted his critics?

President Obama ’s embrace of Mr. Sharpton has been particularly intense this year. On Monday he called Mr. Sharpton’s radio show to discuss the Nov. 4 elections. In April the president appeared at a political rally organized by Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network. Mr. Obama’s closest adviser, Valerie Jarrett, conferred with Mr. Sharpton in August about the police killing of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., as Mr. Sharpton led protests against the Ferguson police.

The Democratic establishment is just as obsequious. It turned out in force earlier this month to celebrate Mr. Sharpton’s 60th birthday party at New York’s tony Four Seasons restaurant. Hillary Clinton phoned in with best wishes. Barack and Michelle Obama sent a congratulatory letter. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gushed: “He’s the nation’s Rev. Sharpton—and the nation is better for it.” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman , Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand , and Reps. Charles Rangel and Jerry Nadler rushed to pay their respects.

Obeisance to this louse, from the most powerful in the land! Such is the character of these Democrats.

Worrying as it might be for America to see Mr. Sharpton catapulted into the national limelight, that is nothing compared with the alarm felt by many New Yorkers now witnessing his emergence as a political power in their city.

When New Yorkers elected Bill de Blasio as mayor last year, they knew they were getting a self-styled “progressive” who pledged to soak the rich and shackle the New York Police Department. What they didn’t know was that they were also voting to bring Al Sharpton and his influence into the very heart of City Hall. The mayor’s alliance with the racial provocateur is now creating the biggest crisis of his mayoralty.

So far Mr. de Blasio is pretending not to notice. As the crisis escalated, involving a former Sharpton aide now working for the mayor’s wife, Mr. de Blasio ladled on the praise at the Four Seasons. “Al Sharpton has been a blessing for this city,” the mayor enthused. “He’s been a blessing for this nation. And the more people criticize him, the more I want to hang out with him. Because a lot of times, just look who’s doing the criticizing and the way they’re saying it—it makes you realize the Rev must be doing something right. You know, sometimes, your enemies are the best endorsers of the righteousness of your actions.”

Where to start in evaluating what a “blessing” Al Sharpton has been to New York and America? …

Heather Mac Donald recalls some of the worst instances of Al Sharpton’s supporting, condoning, inciting and personally directing criminal acts, from false accusations of rape to anti-Semitic riots in which people were beaten and burnt to death.

For a full history of Al Sharpton ‘s iniquitous career of race hustling, defying court orders, and generally flouting the law and getting away with it, go here.

In 2008 the Associated Press reported that Mr. Sharpton and his business entities owed nearly $1.5 million in taxes and penalties, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in fines for unpaid workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. By this year Mr. Sharpton’s tax liabilities had ballooned to $4.7 million, according to the New York Post. He still owes the Federal Election Commission $208,000 for the improper use of campaign money during his 2004 presidential bid.

Not relevant, apparently, to Mr. Sharpton’s increasing reach into Democratic circles. Mr. Sharpton believes that New York’s mayor owes him his job — a belief shared, it seems, by Mr. de Blasio himself. Mr. Sharpton pointedly declined to endorse the sole black candidate in the Democratic primary last year. That left the field open for a late-surging Mr. de Blasio, who had run a demagogic campaign against the New York Police Department, denouncing its stop-question-and-frisk policies as racist. Candidate de Blasio also pandered to black voters by prominently featuring his biracial son in campaign ads. “We won the election,” Mr. Sharpton later told CBS New York.

Mr. de Blasio’s first offering of thanks was to hire Mr. Sharpton’s longtime public-relations adviser as his wife’s $170,000-a-year chief of staff. Such a position was unprecedented, but the choice of Rachel Noerdlinger to fill it was even more startling. It put an Al Sharpton confidante at the center of city power.

Next, Mayor de Blasio implied that Mr. Sharpton was a major player in police affairs. In late July the mayor convened a meeting of “community advocates” to discuss the death of a black man following the man’s arrest for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. Mr. Sharpton’s inevitable protests against the NYPD had blamed the death on the enforcement of public-order laws, including the ban on selling loose cigarettes. Such enforcement is key to “broken windows” policing—stopping minor crimes as a way of preventing major ones.

Mr. Sharpton was led in to the mayor’s community meeting by his former aide, Ms. Noerdlinger, and seated on Mr. de Blasio’s left, with Police Commissioner William Bratton, serving his second tour as New York’s top law officer, on the mayor’s right. The symbolism was lost on no one, least of all police officers. The next day, a mock NYPD identification card circulated through police headquarters showing Mr. Sharpton as commissioner.

By the time of the Four Seasons birthday blowout, the mayor’s Noerdlinger-Sharpton connection was turning toxic. As the local press reported, the 43-year-old single mother had failed to disclose in her City Hall background check that she was living with an unemployed ex-convict who had served time for fatally shooting a man over a jacket and for drug dealing. The boyfriend, Hassaun McFarlan, had referred to the police as “pigs” on his now-vanished Facebook page.

Ms. Noerdlinger had received a waiver of the city’s residency requirement by citing her teenage son’s need to continue a physical-therapy regime in New Jersey following a traffic accident. She didn’t mention that he was fit enough to play linebacker on his high-school football team. Like Mr. McFarlan, that son has referred to the police as “pigs” on social media, and he has tweeted: “I’m convinced all white people are the devil.”

Ms. Noerdlinger has a federal tax lien against her, typical of the Sharpton inner circle, but failed to report it to the city’s conflict of interest board. She has been involved to varying degrees in McFarlan-related dust-ups with the law, including hundreds of dollars in unpaid traffic tickets issued to her Mercedes-Benz since her City Hall job began.

Mayor de Blasio has refused to discuss the implications for his administration of these and other revelations. Nor has he disciplined Ms. Noerdlinger for her multiple omissions on city background checks.

Police morale is plummeting, given the mayor’s stubborn allegiance to a former Sharpton aide and the seeming elevation of Mr. Sharpton to near-parity with Police Commissioner Bratton. Cops in certain high-crime precincts have all but abandoned pedestrian stops, which candidate de Blasio had so fiercely criticized.

As for Mr. Sharpton, he portrays the Noerdlinger fiasco as a conspiracy to bring down the de Blasio mayoralty and Mr. Sharpton’s connection to it. After leading a few rounds of “no justice, no peace” on a recent Saturday at his National Action Network headquarters — still little more than a shabby storefront despite the millions shoveled into it by supplicant corporate donors — Mr. Sharpton told his supporters: “They will keep trying to prevent [the mayor] from transforming this city, whether it’s Rachel”—Ms. Noerdlinger—“or it’s someone else. When Mayor de Blasio and his wife reached out and said they wanted Rachel to come, I said: ‘Don’t think that they won’t put a target on your back. They’ll find something. They gonna think I cut some deal.’ ”

The longer Mayor de Blasio sticks by Ms. Noerdlinger, the more it will appear that the mayor did cut a deal. But firing her would invite Mr. Sharpton’s wrath, jeopardizing Mr. de Blasio’s hopes for a second term. Worse, Mr. Sharpton is demanding an end to broken-windows policing, while Commissioner Bratton has vowed to continue it. Mayor de Blasio cannot satisfy both men.

Despite Mr. Sharpton’s current mainstream patina … he still peddles the dangerous lie that police officers are the greatest threat facing young black men and that racial discrimination is the main force holding blacks back.

In fact, it is other young black men who are responsible for the high homicide risk faced by black teens, and it is proactive policing that has dramatically reduced that risk, saving thousands of young lives in places like New York City.

Mr. Sharpton’s longevity as a public figure rests on the enduring power of racial grievance to elevate those politicians who accede to it, while distracting attention from the family and social breakdown afflicting the black community.

Al Sharpton embodies the spirit of the Democratic Party. So does Mayor de Blasio, for whose sleazy political biography go here.

Leaving religion for good 6

We dearly love an article we can enjoy examining critically. Best of all we like an opinion that we partly agree with and partly do not.

This article is by Star Parker, whose columns at Townhall on political issues we generally like. And here  again we have no quarrel with her political views. It is her conviction that religion is necessary and good that sparks our opposition.

A new Pew Research Center survey of opinion about the importance of religion in American life shows an interesting picture.

Over the last 12 years, the percentage of Americans that think religion is losing influence in American life has increased dramatically. In 2002, 52 percent of those surveyed said religion is losing influence. In 2014, 72 percent of Americans said religion is losing influence.

To us, of course, that’s good news.

However, while increasing numbers of Americans feel religion is losing influence, most feel this is a bad thing.

Fifty-six percent say that the waning influence of religion is a bad thing compared to 12 percent that say it is a good thing.

In a survey done by Pew in 2012, 58 percent of Americans said religion is “very important” and only 18 percent said it is not “too important” or “not important at all”.

This raises some interesting questions.

One clear one is why, when Americans think religion is very important, has the percentage of Americans who think religion is losing influence in American life increased almost 40 percent over the last 14 years?

Another one is what are the political implications? Certainly, in the Republican Party, there is an increasingly vocal libertarian leaning faction that sees religion as costly political baggage.

Yes – and that is one of the libertarian views with which we are in strong sympathy.

I attribute why almost three fourths of Americans feel that religion is losing influence in American life, while most feel this is a bad thing, to the law of unintended consequences.

She goes on to describe the disaster of welfare policies. We too think they have been – and continue to be – disastrous.

Many Americans have been unwittingly supporting policies for more than a half-century that they thought were good ideas and consistent with their values which have been neither. Now more Americans are beginning to appreciate the damage that has been done and how far the nation has strayed from their own sense of right and wrong.

Take the example of welfare.

When Aid to Families with Dependent Children program was dramatically expanded in the 1960s, it seemed morally correct for government to get more aggressive in the lives of the poor, particularly poor black women. … Massive increases of government in the lives of low-income black families were accompanied by a tripling of single parent households and out-of wedlock births, laying the groundwork for intergenerational poverty.

Right. Those have been and are the causes of “intergenerational poverty”.

But we omitted a sentence. It was this:

Who appreciated that the program would undermine the very religious, traditional values that keep families intact, essential for the work ethic that leads people out poverty?

It may well have been the case that Church-taught values contributed to a belief that children should be born to married parents. Many held that belief also because it is plainly best for children to be raised by a mother and a father. The principle is good whether endorsed or not by a religion.

We contend that it is because the state took over the responsibility of providing for children that men could so easily opt out of the traditional role of bread-winner to their families. It was government incursion into private life that did the damage to believers and non-believers alike. Their religion or lack of it had nothing to do with the “unintended consequences” of welfarism.

Now it’s happening in the whole country. As we’ve gotten more government telling Americans how to save for retirement, how to deal with their health care, how to educate their children – American families have been damaged and out-of-wedlock births have increased six-fold from 1960 to 42 percent today. Government has displaced family.

Right.

Some say today we have competing views about the role of government.

Conservatives and progressives do have different views about the role of government. That is not a matter of opinion, but a fact.

I would say we have competing views about what life is about.

Yes. We think life can be “about” anything that free individuals want to make it. Star Parker thinks that life was created, and the creator had a purpose, and that purpose, though impossible to define, is somehow helped along by this or that set of religious doctrines. About which set of doctrines in particular, there are “competing views” among the multitude of religions, each of which claims to teach “the truth”.

One view – a decidedly secular, materialistic view – sees no mystery in life.

We have a decidedly secular view – materialistic too in that we see the need to sustain our physical existence as well and as pleasantly as we possibly can. But we do not think there is no mystery.  On the contrary, we are aware that humankind knows very little. To learn more, to explore what we do not know about our universe and ourselves is the most exciting adventure of our conscious lives, and discovery is the engine of all progress.

Pretending to know that there is a purpose to life known only to a supernatural being who created it but chooses to keep his purpose secret, is to opt out of the great adventure.

The left wing version, which dominates the Democratic Party, says government can solve all of life’s problems.

Or most of them. And it’s a wrong and dangerous belief.

The hard-core libertarian version, found among some Republicans — says just leave everybody alone — you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you — and everything will work out for the best.

That is an absurd encapsulation of the libertarian view. No intelligent libertarian thinks that if people are left to make their own choices, if they are self-reliant, “everything will work out for the best”. Every individual will make his own successes and failures – and take responsibility for them. He knows that government cannot solve “all life’s problems” – and, what’s more, does a pretty poor job of solving the one problem it exists to solve: how best to protect liberty.

The other view maintains that you can’t have a free society that is not also a virtuous society.

A free society starts off with the virtue of being a free society. Freedom needs to be protected by law, and, if it is, crime will be punished, foreign enemies will be kept away, and the people can prosper. How good they are in their private lives remains forever dependent on individual character and choice.

It was what George Washington meant when he said in his farewell address that “of all the dispensations and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports”.

We are sorry we can only partially agree with George Washington on this. Morality, yes. Religion? What religion has a history that can withstand moral criticism? Some – Christianity and Islam in particular – have a history of carnage and cruelty. That Christianity preaches against both make its actual record all the worse.

It is my sense that more Americans are beginning to wake up to the unintended, damaging consequences of the often well-intended government policies they have been supporting for many years.

More Americans are beginning to appreciate that we can’t separate our fiscal and economic problems from our moral problems and that if we want to recapture our freedom and prosperity, we must recapture our virtue.

Certainly. But we won’t do that by returning into the mental darkness of religion. We can do it by limiting the powers of government and recovering the idea of liberty as the highest value. That is political and moral virtue.

A Muslim speaks for Israel 0

An interesting video, worth the hour it takes to watch it.

Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim of Pakistani descent, talks about how and why he changed from being fiercely anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, to being an admirer of Israel and a defender of Zionism.

Posted under Anti-Semitism, Commentary, Ethics, Islam, Israel, Muslims, Pakistan, Palestinians by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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What really happened in Benghazi 4

A US security team in Benghazi was held back from immediately responding to the attack on the American diplomatic mission on orders of the top CIA officer there, three of those involved told Fox News Bret Baier.

The three men –  Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto,  Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen – were ready to go but told more than once not to go.  The Obama administration, endlessly trying to excuse its moral turpitude, insists that no order to “stand down” was ever given. Maybe, but “do not go” is an order to stand down.

They finally ignored orders and went – but got there too late to save Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith.

We quote from Scared Monkeys:

Their account gives a dramatic new turn to what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an “old story” – the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Speaking out publicly for the first time, the three were security operators at the secret CIA annex in Benghazi – in effect, the first-responders to any attack on the diplomatic compound.

Based on the new book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team, the special sets aside the political spin that has freighted the Benghazi issue for the last two years, presenting a vivid, compelling narrative of events from the perspective of the men who wore the “boots on the ground”.

Now, looking back, the security team said they believed that if they had not been delayed for nearly half an hour, or if the air support had come, things might have turned out differently.

Ambassador Stevens and Sean [Smith], yeah, they would still be alive, my gut is yes,” Paronto said.

Tiegen concurred: “I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today.” 

See the video of the interview here.

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, must be held responsible for those deaths.

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