Ben Shapiro argues that it is not.
We agree with him.
But we would simply argue that one cannot have a right to something if the provision of it forces obligations on others.
Traces of some very abstruse reasoning emerge tantalizingly from the Cloud of Knowing – the thinkers who influence current US foreign policy. Secretive ends are being pursued. Can we discern what they are, or guess what they might be, from the clues dropped by the press?
The Washington Post reports:
American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights, according to a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
So, according to a body that calls itself the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, secularism “feeds” religious extremism. Presumably that means it nourishes it, energizes it, makes it stronger than it would otherwise be.
Now how could it do that? Does it drive the religious mad by simply being non-religious? And if so, is it to blame for that, or are the religious perhaps over-reacting?
Wait. It’s not any old secularism that is guilty of annoying the religious; it is specifically Western secularism. Other sorts – if there are sorts of secularism – are not bad, or not as bad.
Why? Apparently because Western secularism, in contrast to, say, Eastern secularism if it exists, is “uncompromising”. But how should not-being-religious compromise? Should it be a little bit religious? If so, how much? And would it then still be secularism?
One may begin to suspect that here is another formulation of the now familiar accusation from the left that the West has only itself to blame for being attacked by religious extremists – aka Muslim terrorists – because it is not Muslim. Or is that leaping too quickly to an as yet unwarranted conclusion?
Let’s proceed cautiously. As well as “feeding” religious extremism, this Western secularism also “threatens traditional cultures”. How? Does it proselytize non-belief? Not that anyone’s heard. Does it try to force non-belief on believers? Again, no, not noticeably. Then does its mere existence raise questions that endanger the belief of “traditional cultures” – in which case what would the Chicago Council on Global Affairs have it do to lift the threat from those intimidated folk?
Wait again – the list of accusations against this dangerous force called secularism is not yet exhausted. It also “fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights”.
Which groups would those be – could we have some names, please? And why can they only carry out their noble mission if they are encouraged?
Answers to these questions cannot be found in the Washington Post story.
What it does tell us is that it took this body two years to reach its conclusion. So we should not brush it off as nonsense: in two years it is possible to go very deeply into grievances.
What’s more, the conclusion requires, and will elicit, action by the government of the United States.
The council’s 32-member task force, which included former government officials and scholars representing all major faiths, delivered its report to the White House on Tuesday. The report warns of a serious “capabilities gap” and recommends that President Obama make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy”.
A serious capabilities gap? Not a mere pothole in the diplomatic road to perfect global accord? And it could be filled in by – what exactly? A state religion? No – that could not be the recommendation of 32 officials and scholars representing all major faiths.
Just a generalized religiosity then?
But how is religion, whether specific or a mere aura of sanctity assumed by the State Department, going to improve American foreign policy, soothe the extremists of foreign creeds, reassure traditional cultures, and stiffen the backbone of groups (presumably different from the religious extremists) intent on virtuously promoting peace and human rights?
We are not told, and can only hope that the Chicago Council’s report to the White House provides answers to these difficult questions.
Thomas Wright, the council’s executive director of studies, said task force members met Tuesday with Joshua DuBois, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and State Department officials. “They were very receptive, and they said that there is a lot of overlap between the task force’s report and the work they have been doing on this same issue,” Wright said.
Something is already being done by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to make religion in some way an integral part of US foreign policy? It would be most interesting to know what exactly.
DuBois declined to comment on the report but wrote on his White House blog Tuesday: “The Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership and the National Security Staff are working with agencies across government to analyze the ways the U.S. government engages key non-governmental actors, including religious institutions, around the globe.”
Ah! He’s not being exact, but there’s a clue in here somewhere.
The Chicago Council isn’t as influential as the Council on Foreign Relations or some other Washington-based think tanks, but it does have a long-standing relationship with the president. Obama spoke to the council once as a state senator and twice as a U.S. senator, including his first major foreign policy speech as a presidential candidate in April 2007.
It could depend on his sympathy then, with whatever it is they want done.
Michelle Obama is on the council’s board.
Now we learn that the problem, however obcure it may seem to the public, has been troubling smart people for quite some time.
American foreign policy’s “God gap” has been noted in recent years by others, including former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright.
Well, she has been associated with a few faiths in her time – Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism. So perhaps she would be especially aware of a shortage of religious belief in the State Department. Could have struck her forcibly when she assumed office.
“It’s a hot topic,” said Chris Seiple [read something very politically correct that he’s written here], president of the Institute for Global Engagement in Arlington County and a Council on Foreign Relations member. “It’s the elephant in the room. You’re taught not to talk about religion and politics, but the bummer is that it’s at the nexus of national security. The truth is the academy has been run by secular fundamentalists for a long time, people who believe religion is not a legitimate component of realpolitik.“
Come now, politics can hardly be avoided by a Council of Foreign Relations. But you say that religion is “the elephant in the room”? And it is “at the nexus of national security” ?
The Chicago Council’s task force was led by R. Scott Appleby of the University of Notre Dame and Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.
Who is Richard Cizik, and what is the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good? According to Newsweek he was the Washington lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals for nearly 30 years, and then, towards the end of 2008, he announced “the formation of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a group devoted to developing Christian responses to global and political issues such as environmentalism, nuclear disarmament, human rights, and dialogue with the Muslim world”.
“Religion,” the task force says, “is pivotal to the fate” of such nations as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Yemen, all vital to U.S. national and global security.
So the particular religion they have in mind is Islam?
Not necessarily … don’t jump to conclusions … it could also be .. hmmm-mmm … Hinduism and … Christianity and … who knows what?:
“Despite a world abuzz with religious fervor,” the task force says, “the U.S. government has been slow to respond effectively to situations where religion plays a global role.” Those include the growing influence of Pentecostalism in Latin America, evangelical Christianity in Africa and religious minorities in the Far East.
All of which feel threatened by Western secularism? Are crying out for it to compromise a little?
But okay, mostly Islam:
U.S. officials have made efforts to address the God gap, especially in dealings with Islamic nations and groups. The CIA established an office of political Islam in the mid-1980s. … During the second Bush administration, the Defense Department rewrote the Army’s counterinsurgency manual to take account of cultural factors, including religion.
Could that have had something to do with the shooting of soldiers by an “extremist” Muslim officer at Fort Hood? Just wondering.
The Obama administration has stepped up the government’s outreach to a wider range of religious groups and individuals overseas …
… even, say, the Dalai Lama if he’ll use the back door …
… trying to connect with people beyond governments, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Very hush-hush stuff this.
The effort, he said, is more deliberate than in the past: “This issue has senior-level attention.”
He noted that Obama appointed a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference …
The envoy being a Muslim and a terrorist sympathizer [see our post The trusted envoy, February 20, 2010], and the Organization of the Islamic Conference being a major instrument of the Ummah for the conquest of the non-Muslim world, chiefly by methods of “soft jihad” in Europe.
… and created a new Muslim outreach position in the State Department. In the past year, he said, embassies in Muslim-majority countries have held hundreds of meetings with a broad range of people not involved in government.
Huh? Muslim-majority countries have had hundreds of meetings with individual people not involved with government? What people? Why? To what end? How does the government know about them?
Whatever was going on with that, it was apparently too “episodic and uncoordinated”. Now there must be something more programmatic, more official, more formal, more defined, and definitely involving government:
To end the “episodic and uncoordinated nature of U.S. engagement of religion in the world,” the task force recommended:
— Adding religion to the training and continuing education of all foreign service officers, diplomats and other key diplomatic, military and economic officials. …
— Empowering government departments and agencies to engage local and regional religious communities where they are central players in the promotion of human rights and peace, as well as the delivery of health care and other forms of assistance.
Leaving aside the code words “human rights” and “peace” which in such a context as this usually mean “leftism” and “Islam” – diplomats, and military and even economic officials should deliver health care?
But here comes the stunner. (Remember that “clarify” in diplomatic talk always means “take it back and say something more to our liking”.)
— Address and clarify the role of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy.
Cizik said some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS A FORM OF IMPERIALISM?
We give up. Such nuanced thought is beyond our grasp.
We enjoy reading Mike Adams, and see eye-to-eye with him on many political issues.
Where we do not agree with him – as with the otherwise admirable Ann Coulter – is on religion.
Well, we’re atheist conservatives and they are Christians, so that’s no surprise.
Today in an article in Townhall titled ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ – well worth reading in full – Mike Adams criticizes statism, progressivism, and the left’s ideal of equality. We share his views on them. Then he comes to the question of ‘rights’.
He asks ‘a serious question: If rights are not bestowed by a Creator, then under what conditions do they exist? In other words, who bestows them?’
The answer is nobody unless the state. A right can only be granted in law. Because we do not believe in a supernatural lawmaker, a Creator of our universe and us, we do not accept the idea of ‘human rights’ at all, or of ‘natural rights’.
We prefer to say that we human beings are – or ought to be – FREE to do whatever we choose provided we break no laws. Law sets limits on our freedom, and should do so rationally and equally.
Nobody’s ‘right’ whether in sentiment or law should ever impose an obligation on another person, except the obligation of restraint. Whoever it was who said, ‘the freedom of your fist ends where my nose begins,’ expressed it perfectly. A list of rights according to Franklin Roosevelt – as quoted by Adams – includes: a right to a useful and remunerative job and a wage adequate to provide food and clothing and recreation; a farmer’s right sell his produce for enough to give him a decent living; everyone’s right to a home, medical care, pensions, education and more. It is an endorsement of the Marxist notion: ‘to each according to his need’. Those who hold to that creed believe that a man should receive in exchange for something he sells – his labor, an artifact, or whatever he offers – the payment that he wants.
But our wants are limitless, while the value of what we have to sell is not.
Only the free market can determine value. A buyer will pay as much as the thing he is buying is worth to him. The more buyers who want the thing on offer, the higher the price will be.
The only alternative to economic freedom is distribution by tyrannical government. A government that arbitrarily distributes the wealth of the people is by definition a tyranny.
You can never have liberty and equality. The choice is between freedom and equality. (By which we mean economic equality: equality before the law is essential to freedom.)
In freedom, if an individual wants to earn more, he can do so by providing more and better goods and services. That is to say, we assess our needs for ourselves and work as well as we can to get the money to pay for them: which could be summed up as ‘from each according to his need’.
Will we get as much as we want? That will depend on our individual ability.
So we reverse the Marxist tag ‘from each according to his ability and to each according to his need,’ and make ours, ‘from each according to his need and to each according to his ability.’
The market will decide the reward. All we can do is our best. We have no ‘right’ to demand handouts from others on the grounds that we ‘need’ what they have.
To put it another way, socialism is theft.
The following is from a report and commentary you can read here.
Iraqi Terrorist and former leader of the fanatic Mehdi army, Ahmed Al-Fartoosi, responsible for the deaths of dozens of British soldiers is suing the British Ministry of Defence —why?? – because someone left pornography near a toilet that Al-Fartoosi used.
How ironic that a man who apparently had no problems with killing dozens if not more people should scream like a baby over his "virgin" eyes looking at nude pictures is cause for a lawsuit. But then again – did anyone force open Ahmeds eyes and make him look at the porn?? Obviously not. Thus if he looked at it – he did so voluntarily. Nevertheless, the mere presence of the likely magazine is enough for this brave muslim to put his hand out to receive compensation for his "discomfort".
The other "egregious" offences committed against Fartoosi for which he wants the British taxpayers to provide free legal aid so that he can in essence…………sue the British taxpayers are:
HEARING porn videos being played on a soldier’s laptop;
BUMPING his arm and thigh when being put in an armoured vehicle; and
LOSING sleep in his cell due to noise and lights from a corridor.
No formal complaints were ever logged regarding the above incidents leading one to surmise that the above "horrific events" were not upsetting UNTIL Fartoosi and Attorney Phil Shiner met. Far too often, a dhimmi lawyer, such as Phil Shiner, is waiting in the wings and ready to dip his hands into the British taxpayers pockets so that, in this instance, he can also self-righteously pretend to protest a war that he says he disagrees with and also manage to greatly enrich his bank account in the process. (Shiner has a past history of profiting off of legal aid money to defend Iraqi insurgents.)
Thus Fartoosi, via Shiner, is suing for false imprisonment and violations of new European human rights laws. Many feel that the EU human rights laws encourage terrorists to come to Britain. The EU human rights laws are consistently far more favorable to terrorists, murderers and rapists then to the victim so much so that a prominent British newspaper has started a movement to end the travesty that has been brought by these laws:
"The whole concept of “human rights” in Britain has become a travesty under which the interests of killers, rapists and paedophiles are placed above those of their victims."
In Canada, free speech is less important than the sensitivities of Muslims, those sensitive souls who believe that beating wives, killing gays, forcing very young girls into marriage and murdering them if they rebel, cutting off the hands and feet of petty criminals, and waging jihad against all non-Muslims, is justice.
No one accused by the Canadian Inquisition has ever been acquitted.
Mark Steyn is one of its latest victims.
Read more here.