Bloody religion 52

Some of our readers (who may have spoken for many) have let us know that they disagree with Pat Condell – and so with us too – on what he says in the video we posted yesterday.

Contra Condell, they think a nativity scene on state property is a serious violation of the Constitution and should be protested against.

They insist that the Founding Fathers intended there to be “total separation of Church and State” although the phrase is not used in the Constitution.

One reader, Frank, sent us these quotations:

“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.” ~ Thomas Paine

“All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.” ~ Thomas Paine

I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.” ~ James Madison

“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.” ~ James Madison

“The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?” ~ John Adams

By “the God of nature” we understand John Adams to have meant the laws of nature. (That was the only “god” that Spinoza and Einstein believed in.)

“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?” ~ John Adams

With this last one we have some disagreement. We don’t believe in revelation. And we think Islam has shown itself to be at least as bloody as Christianity.

But all the quotations are treasures worth remembering.

(Our thanks to Frank)

PC v JC 75

Out of season because only just found, here is a recent video by Pat Condell speaking against a pathetic anti-Christmas campaign conducted by atheists of the Left. 

As very often – without his knowing it, of course – he speaks for us.

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Religion general, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, January 30, 2012

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Questions of liberty (2) 98

Winston Churchill, speaking in the House of Commons on November 11 (Remembrance Day), 1947, said:

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Is democracy the best form of government?

Does it have any drawbacks, and if so what are they?   

Should all adults have the vote, and if not who should be the exceptions?

Should there be qualifications for voting, and if so what should they be? 

Debate is invited.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Posted under government, Philosophy by Jillian Becker on Sunday, January 29, 2012

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Muslims sawing off heads 81

The video of this Afghan’s head being sawn off can be seen here.

Steel yourself to watch it.

Bearing that lurid demonstration in mind, now read this from a report about beheadings in Somalia last July:

Islamic extremists have beheaded two young boys in Somalia because their Christian father refused to divulge information about a church leader, and the killers are searching Kenya’s refugee camps to do the same to the boys’ father. …

Militants from the Islamic extremist group al Shabaab entered Yonday village on Feb. 20, went to Yusuf’s house and interrogated him on his relationship with Mberwa, leader of a fellowship of 66 Somali Christians who meet at his home at an undisclosed city. Yusuf told them he knew nothing of Mberwa and had no connection with him. The Islamic extremists left but said they would return the next day.

“Immediately when they left, I decided to flee my house for Kismayo, for I knew for sure they were determined to come back,” Yusuf said.

At noon the next day, as his wife was making lunch for their children in Yonday, the al Shabaab militants showed up. Batula Ali Arbow, Yusuf’s wife, recalled that their youngest son, Innocent, told the group that their father had left the house the previous day.

The Islamic extremists ordered her to stop what she was doing and took hold of three of her sons – 11-year-old Abdi Rahaman Musa Yusuf, 12-year-old Hussein Musa Yusuf and Abdulahi Musa Yusuf, 7. Some neighbors came and pleaded with the militants not to harm the three boys. Their pleas landed on deaf ears.

“I watched my three boys dragged away helplessly as my youngest boy was crying,” Arbow said. “I knew they were going to be slaughtered. Just after some few minutes I heard a wailing cry from Abdulahi running towards the house. I could not hold my breath. I only woke up with all my clothes wet. I knew I had fainted due to the shock.”

With the help of neighbors, Arbow said, she buried the bodies of her two children the following day.

And now another report from Somalia, dated yesterday:

According to the residents, al Shabaab fighters on Friday beheaded the three Somali teenagers in southern Somalia town of Masagway located in between Galgudud and Lower Shabelle region for suspicion of being spying for the Transitional Federal Government.

Obama the radical Communist 193

It was the worst mistake in the history of the USA – the election of a dedicated Communist to the presidency. Barack Hussein Obama, well in his forties but still besotted with his adolescent Communist ideology, who associated only with Marxists, Communist revolutionaries and terrorists – and the odd Chicago crook –  was actually elected to the office of president. It’s the stuff of nightmares, but as we all know, and to the wonder and dismay of half the world, it actually happened. America is suffering ever more acutely from the consequences of that amazing error of judgment by tens of millions of voters.

This is from Investor’s Business Daily:

The late [Saul] Alinsky is the father of community organizing and the author of the far-left bible “Rules for Radicals.”

Obama first learned Alinsky’s rules in the 1980s, when Alinskyite radicals with the Chicago-based Alinsky group Gamaliel Foundation recruited, hired, trained and paid him as a community organizer in South Side Chicago. (Gamaliel’s website expressly states it grew out of the Alinsky movement.)

In 1988, Obama … wrote a chapter for the book “After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois,” in which he lamented organizers’ “lack of power” in implementing change.

Gamaliel board member John McKnight, a hard-core student of Alinsky, penned a letter for Obama to help him get into Harvard Law School.

Just think about the implications of that: a letter from a radical Communist helps to get an applicant into Harvard Law School!

Obama took a break from his Harvard studies to travel to Los Angeles for eight days of intense training at Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation …

In turn, he trained other community organizers in Alinsky agitation tactics.

“Community organizing” means organizing for Communist revolutionary agitation.

Obama also taught Alinsky’s “Power Analysis” methods at the University of Chicago.

During the presidential campaign, Obama hired one of his Gamaliel mentors, Mike Kruglik, to train young campaign workers in Alinsky tactics at “Camp Obama,” a school set up at Obama headquarters in Chicago. The tactics helped Obama capture the youth vote like no other president before him.

Power would no longer be an issue, as Obama infiltrated the highest echelon of the political establishment — the White House — fulfilling Alinsky’s vision of a new “vanguard” of coat-and-tie radicals who “work inside the system” to change the system.

After the election, his other Gamaliel mentor, Jerry Kellman (who hired him and whose identity Obama disguised in his memoir), helped the Obama administration establish Organizing for America, which mobilizes young supporters to agitate for Obama’s legislative agenda using “Rules for Radicals.”

Obama’s favorite rule is No. 13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.” You see that in his attacks on “fat cat bankers,” “greedy health insurers” and “millionaires and billionaires.” He also readily applies Alinsky’s fifth rule of “ridiculing” the opposition.

“Obama learned his lesson well,” said [Saul Alinsky’s son] David Alinsky … “I am proud to see that my father’s model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing.”

“Beyond local community organizing”. That must be the understatement of all time.

The rich pay far too much in taxes 10

We are not enamored of Mitt Romney (though he’d be a vast improvement on Obama if he became president).

But we are against the left’s attack on him for paying, they say, too little in taxes. He’s obviously paying far too much.

We take the position that in principle taxation is theft. Every penny that goes to a government should be grudged.

We also insist that wealth is not a problem. Poverty is the problem. And it is a really bad idea – a Christian one – that to be poor is ipso facto to be virtuous.

On the subject of Romney being under-taxed, here’s an opinion from the Heritage Foundation:

How many times should your money be taxed? One time? Two times? Three times? Four? Sounds like a ridiculous proposition, but that’s the true story of capital gains taxes in America, and it’s one that’s not being told in the continuing debate over Governor Mitt Romney’s taxes.

For more than a week, the media has focused on the subject of just how much Romney pays in taxes. On Tuesday, the governor released his tax returns indicating that he paid about 15 percent in taxes last year. At first blush, that sounds like a low rate, especially considering that Romney is admittedly worth millions. But as with all things in politics, there is more to the story.

As most Americans know, marginal individual income tax rates in America range between 15 and 35 percent. However, Americans making money from investments typically earn dividends. They face a lower rate to reduce the tax barrier to investing and growing businesses. For Americans in the lowest two income brackets, the tax rate on dividends is zero. For all the rest, the dividend tax rate is 15 percent – hence Romney’s rate.

Why do dividends face lower rates than wages or interest income? Because dividends have already faced one full level of tax at the corporate level.

But that’s income tax. Americans making money from investments also typically pay a capital gains tax at the same lower rate as for dividends. Income and capital gains are very different. Income is what is generated from using resources, as wage income is generated by providing labor services, whereas a capital gain results from an increase in an asset price. Capital gains face a lower rate to reduce the tax barrier to investing, especially in high-risk, high-return, job-creating, business-growing investments.

So right off the bat, Romney is paying what is legally required of him – and even when compared to the average federal income tax burden in America of 9.3 percent, he’s paying more. There’s still more to the story, though.

When Romney pays 15 percent to Uncle Sam, that’s not the first time that money was taxed. … Romney’s money has likely gone through four levels of taxation, meaning that the level of taxation was at 50 percent and likely much higher:

At the very least, he paid nearly 45 percent, but a chunk of this tax was collected before he even saw the remainder. Income from capital gains and dividends means the income was first earned by businesses, most likely corporations which paid tax at 35 percent. So Romney paid his 15 percent only after the government had taken its 35 percent cut. That leaves Romney with a combined tax of 45 cents on the dollar of corporate earnings.

So that’s two levels of taxation – the corporate rate and the capital gains rate. But there’s more. Foster explains that Romney’s cash was likely subject to taxes on capital income repeatedly in the past. Few investments are one and done; rather, most are earned taxed dividends and capital gains over extended periods that are reinvested and taxed again and again. This is a third “level” of taxation. And then Romney was also taxed at the individual rate as wage or salary income–a fourth level. And that’s how you get above 50 percent in taxes. …

Are four levels of taxation, topping out at 50 percent “fair” enough for the left? Unfortunately, the truth about capital gains taxes don’t fit as neatly into a headline as ‘Millionaire Only Pays 15% Tax Rate,’ but Americans deserve to know the truth — and they also deserve to be able to save, invest, spend, and contribute the money they have earned without it being confiscated by progressive politicians seeking a “fair” redistribution of wealth ushered in by a growing federal government.

Instead of eating the rich and burning down their mansions, Congress should find ways to make it easier for Americans to keep their money, invest it, and become more prosperous.

“Find ways”?  There’s only one way to take less.

Take less.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, government, United States by Jillian Becker on Thursday, January 26, 2012

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Islam is Islam 377


The map shows the spread of Islam round the tiny state of Israel – which President Obama wants to make even smaller – as it is now.

In the latter half of this century the greater part of Europe, if present demographic trends continue, will also be predominantly Muslim and governed by sharia law.

Think of it: a vast expanse of Asia from Bangladesh to Turkey, from Turkey across Europe to Britain, from north Africa to the top of Norway, all Islamic lands, all governed by sharia.

And no, it is not likely to be a “milder form” of Islam in Europe than in Afghanistan, Iran, or Saudi Arabia. There is only one Islam and it’s only name is Islam.

We take these extracts from an article, which needs to be read in full, by Andrew C. McCarthy at Family Security Matters. It is titled Islam is Islam:

Islam … is an entirely different way of looking at the world. We struggle with this truth, which defies our end-of-history smugness. …

So we set about remaking Islam in our own progressive image … We miniaturize the elements of the ummah (the notional global Muslim community) that refuse to go along with the program: They are assigned labels … Islamist, fundamentalist, Salafist, Wahhabist, radical, jihadist, extremist, militant, or, of course, “conservative” Muslims adhering to “political Islam.”

There is a “real Islam” – McCarthy’s “we” pretend – which is  a “religion of peace”. “The vast majority of Muslims,” it is said ad nauseam, “are peaceful and law-abiding”. Abiding by what law given a choice? It’s a question “we”  don’t want answered.

We consequently pretend that Muslims who accurately invoke Islamic scripture in the course of forcibly imposing the dictates of classical sharia — the Islamic legal and political system — are engaged in “anti-Islamic activity,” as Britain’s former home secretary Jacqui Smith memorably put it. When the ongoing Islamization campaign is advanced by violence, as inevitably happens, we absurdly insist that this aggression cannot have been ideologically driven, that surely some American policy or Israeli act of self-defense is to blame, as if these could possibly provide rationales for the murderous jihad waged by Boko Haram Muslims against Nigerian Christians and by Egyptian Muslims against the Copts, the persecution of the Ahmadi sect by Indonesian and Pakistani Muslims, or the internecine killing in Iraq of Sunnis by Shiites and vice versa — a tradition nearly as old as Islam itself — which has been predictably renewed upon the recent departure of American troops.

The main lesson of the Arab Spring ought to be that this remaking of Islam has happened only in our own minds, for our own consumption. The Muslims of the Middle East take no note of our reimagining of Islam, being, in the main, either hostile toward or oblivious to Western overtures. Muslims do not measure themselves against Western perceptions, although the shrewdest among them take note of our eagerly accommodating attitude when determining what tactics will best advance the cause.

That cause is nothing less than Islamic dominance.

‘The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism,” wrote Samuel Huntington. “It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture.”

Samuel Huntington famously called the conflict between the West and Islam “a clash of civilizations”. But it’s better described as a clash of Western civilization with Islamic barbarism.

Not convinced merely in the passive sense of assuming that they will triumph in the end, Muslim leaders are galvanized by what they take to be a divinely ordained mission of proselytism — and proselytism not limited to spiritual principles, but encompassing an all-purpose societal code prescribing rules for everything from warfare and finance to social interaction and personal hygiene.

An all-purpose societal code. That is what sharia is.

Most Americans still do not know that hurriya, Arabic for “freedom,” connotes “perfect slavery” or absolute submission to Allah, very nearly the opposite of the Western concept. Even if we grant for argument’s sake the dubious proposition that all people crave freedom, Islam and the West have never agreed about what freedom means. …

The Muslim Brotherhood is the ummah’s most important organization, unabashedly proclaiming for nearly 90 years that “the Koran is our law and jihad is our way.”

Hamas, a terrorist organization, is its Palestinian branch, and leading Brotherhood figures do little to disguise their abhorrence of Israel and Western culture. …

[Yet] the Obama administration, European governments, and the Western media tirelessly repeated the mantra that the Brothers had been relegated to the sidelines. …  Surely the Tahrir throngs wanted self-determination, not sharia. Never you mind the fanatical chants of Allahu akbar! as the dictator fell. Never mind that Sheikh Qaradawi was promptly ushered into the square to deliver a fiery Friday sermon to a congregation of nearly a million Egyptians.

The Arab Spring is an unshackling of Islam, not an outbreak of fervor for freedom in the Western sense. Turkey’s third-term prime minister Recep Erdogan, a staunchBrotherhood ally who rejects the notion that there is a “moderate Islam” (“Islam is Islam, and that’s it,” he says), once declared that “democracy is a train where you can get off when you reach your destination.” The destination for Muslim supremacists is the implementation of sharia — the foundation of any Islamized society, and, eventually, of the reestablished caliphate. …

President Obama is cultivating a warm friendship with Recep Erdogan.
Led by the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic parties have become expert at presenting themselves as moderates and telling the West what it wants to hear while they gradually ensnare societies in the sharia web, as slowly or quickly as conditions on the ground permit. They know that when the West says “democracy,” it means popular elections, not Western democratic culture. They know the West has so glorified these elections that the victors can steal them (Iran), refuse to relinquish power when later they lose (Iraq), or decline to hold further elections (Gaza) without forfeiting their legitimacy. …
Andrew McCarthy predicts –
Once in power, they are sure to make virulent anti-Americanism their official policy and to contribute materially to the pan-Islamic goal of destroying Israel.
And he warns –

We should not be under any illusions about why things are shaking out this way. The Arab Spring has not been hijacked any more than Islam was hijacked by the suicide terrorists of 9/11. Islam is ascendant because that is the way Muslims of the Middle East want it.

That is the way Islam wants it.

Are the Western powers deliberately blinding themselves to these realities? Not Obama. He knows what Islam is and he positively favors it.

And European leaders? Whether out of obstinate ignorance, or despair, or self-disgust, they are beckoning Islam to come and overwhelm their countries. But not all Europeans want to live under sharia, and the clash of their civilization with Islam may become civil war.

Atheismophobia 80

In our time and the foreseeable future, the war between intellectual light and darkness will, we envision, increasingly be fought out by secularists, rationalists, atheists against the religious of all denominations, but most necessarily and urgently against Islam.

This is by Daniel Greenfield, from Front Page:

Alexander Aan was just another bureaucrat holding down a desk at the [Indonesian] Department of Planning until his Facebook Atheism page came to the notice of Indonesian authorities in Obama’s old stomping grounds. Now Aan is facing a five year jail sentence for using social media to spread the message that Allah does not exist. 

Alexander is being charged with “defiling” Islam by using passages from the Koran to challenge the Islamic religion. And while the State Department and the media routinely go on the attack against any manifestation of what they call “Islamophobia,” it isn’t likely that they will be rushing to Aan’s defense. This isn’t exactly the first time that atheists have run afoul of the Islamic codes under which the Muslim world operates.

Two years ago, the Palestinian Authority arrested Waleed Hasayin on similar charges of blaspheming against Islam on Facebook. Waleed Hasayin had written that, “Muhammad was no different than barbaric thugs who slaughtered, robbed and raped women” and that “Islam has legitimized slavery, reinforced the gap between social classes and allowed stealing from the infidels, taking women in captivity during wars and sexual abuse of women slaves.” 

For these and other truthful statements, he was arrested and his family demanded that he be sentenced to life in prison. He has since written a letter of apology in hopes of being released.

The regimes imprisoning Aan and Hasayin are funded by the United States. Indonesia is on the list of the top twenty countries benefiting from USAID funding and the Palestinian Authority, including its security forces and prisons, is mostly subsidized by American taxpayers. The arrests were accompanied by mob protests and violence reflecting populist Muslim hostility toward non-Muslims.

Underlying these individual incidents is a legal code that goes to the very definition of what it means to be a citizen of a Muslim country. Muslim countries recognize a limited set of legal religions. Non-Muslims who are members of legal religions have fewer rights and run the usual risks that come with being a minority group. Non-Muslims who are not members of official religions do not. This includes Muslim sects that the Islamic system does not recognize as legitimate. It includes Muslims who wish to convert to another religion, and it includes atheists who are not a recognized religious group. 

Religious identity is linked to civic participation in public life in a way that most Americans are not aware of. It appears on identity cards, it is a basic requirement for doing anything from attending a university to getting married. Without membership in an officially recognized religious group, the atheist is a non-person.

Well, that’s in the Islamic world. We know how it is there. We know that in some Islamic countries – Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan – the punishment for “blasphemy”, which of course includes atheism, is death.

But in our Western world, where freedom is a high value, and freedom of speech a right enshrined in a constitution (as in the US) or established by tradition (as in the UK), such tyrannous bigotry is not tolerated.

Or is it?

Atheists no longer have to live in the Muslim world in order to be subject to Islamic rules. At Queen Mary, University of London, a public research university with roots going back nearly a thousand years, the Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society attempted to hold a discussion on “Sharia Lw and Human Rights.” The discussion came to an abrupt end when a man entered the room and warned that they would be murdered if they said anything critical about Mohammed. 

The return of blasphemy laws to the United Kingdom has been slow, but not all that stealthy. At the University College London, the president of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society resigned after the college student union backed a Muslim student association’s complaints about a cartoon strip of Mohammed having a drink that was posted on Facebook.

The steady flow of Muslim immigrants into London has turned it into Londonistan with nearly a tenth of the city answering the Call of the Mosque. In two decades their numbers will double and with 40 percent of British Muslims polling for Sharia, it’s not difficult to see that the trajectory for atheists in London is not a very promising one.

Atheists are a minority with legal protections in the West. Which is why the majority of the signatories on the Manifesto for a Secular Middle East and North Africa were activists who had left the Muslim world and were living in Europe or the United States. The impossibility of signing a similar manifesto while living full time in Iran or Pakistan went without saying.

But as the Muslim populations of Western countries continue to grow, they are becoming dangerous places for non-Muslims, including atheists. If a dialogue on the consequences of Islamic law can be shut down with threats of violence at University College London, then it’s hard to think of any place that it cannot be shut down. 

We like to think of our cities as fundamentally different places than Tehran or Islamabad, but it’s the population that shapes the character and values of a city. Demographic change means cultural and religious change and as the norms of Tehran and Islamabad become the norms of London and Paris, religious minorities and irreligious minorities will both find themselves silenced.

Muslim persecution of a hated minority group increases proportionally in relation to their numerical advantage. Atheists are a larger percentage of the population in Europe, but demographics are still catching up to them. In the United States the demographic race may already be done, as far as atheists are concerned.

In the United States approximately 0.7 percent of the population identifies as atheist and 0.8 percent of the population as Muslim. If these surveys are correct then the number of Muslims in the United States has already exceeded the number of atheists. While not a single member of Congress identifies as an atheist, two identify as Muslims.

We may accept Daniel Greenfield’s finding that 0.7 percent of Americans “identifies as atheist”, but we doubt that only 0.7 Americans are atheist. We suspect that tens of millions of Americans do not believe in the supernatural.

We think it more than likely that many members of Congress and the Senate are atheists but are aware that saying so publicly would end their political careers.

We suspect – and ardently hope – that with each generation more and more adult, sane, educated, intelligent people realize that the supernatural is superfluous to requirement; that gods do not exist; and that religion is a major cause of conflict.

Whether this intellectual evolution will dominate forcefully enough to save the world from the growing and spreading counter-movement of Islam – the darkest, most ignorant, most stupid, and in our day the cruelest of all superstitions and all systems of totalitarian tyranny – remains to be seen.

The beating of Muslim wives 191

This is from Creeping Sharia.

Beat a camel, beat a wife.

The duty of a Muslim wife is to “lick pus and blood from her husband’s nose” – 0r be beaten.

Comments by feminists are invited but not expected.

The shipwreck of civilization 306

Everything possible should be done to save children and their mothers from a sinking ship.

Feminists though, if they’re to be true to their professed principles … Pause. True to their professed principles? Principles such as freedom from male oppression? Never. Vide their indifference to the subjugation of Muslim women. So let’s say, their clamor… If they’re to be true to their clamor for equality with men, feminists on board a sinking ship insufficiently supplied with lifeboats should be willing to go down with it.

This post is about the sinking of a particular ship, about the captain and most of his men pushing past women and children to save themselves, and how the event is a metaphor for the sinking of Europe – and of  civilization. We view feminism, along with all leftist egalitarian movements, as a cause of our civilization’s decline.   

On what happened when the cruise-ship Costa Concordia hit the rocks and sank, Mark Steyn writes:

There was no orderly evacuation from the Costa Concordia, just chaos punctuated by individual acts of courage from, for example, an Hungarian violinist in the orchestra and a ship’s entertainer in a Spiderman costume, both of whom helped children to safety, the former paying with his life.

The miserable Captain Schettino, by contrast, is presently under house arrest, charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship. His explanation is that, when the vessel listed suddenly, he fell into a lifeboat and was unable to climb out. Seriously. Could happen to anyone, slippery decks and all that. Next thing you know, he was safe on shore, leaving his passengers all at sea. On the other hand, the audio of him being ordered by Coast Guard officers to return to his ship and refusing to do so is not helpful to this version of events.

In the centenary year of the most famous of all maritime disasters, we would do well to consider honestly the tale of the Titanic.

On the Titanic, the male passengers gave their lives for the women and would never have considered doing otherwise. On the Costa Concordia, in the words of a female passenger, “There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboat.” …

The principle that when a ship sinks the women and children should be first in the lifeboats was established, Steyn says, on February 26, 1852, when –

HMS Birkenhead was wrecked off the coast of Cape Town while transporting British troops to South Africa. There were, as on the Titanic, insufficient lifeboats. The women and children were escorted to the ship’s cutter. The men mustered on deck. They were ordered not to dive in the water lest they risk endangering the ladies and their young charges by swamping the boats. So they stood stiffly at their posts as the ship disappeared beneath the waves. As Kipling wrote:

“We’re most of us liars, we’re ‘arf of us thieves, an’ the rest of us rank as can be,

But once in a while we can finish in style (which I ‘ope it won’t ‘appen to me).”

Sixty years later, the men on the Titanic – liars and thieves, wealthy and powerful, poor and obscure – found themselves called upon to “finish in style,” and did so. They had barely an hour to kiss their wives goodbye, watch them clamber into the lifeboats, and sail off without them. They, too, ‘ope’d it wouldn’t ‘appen to them, but, when it did, the social norm of “women and children first” held up under pressure and across all classes.

Today there is no social norm, so it’s every man for himself – operative word “man,” although not many of the chaps on the Titanic would recognize those on the Costa Concordia as “men.” From a grandmother on the latter: “I was standing by the lifeboats and men, big men, were banging into me and knocking the girls.”

Whenever I write about these subjects, I receive a lot of mail from men along the lines of this correspondent:

“The feminists wanted a gender-neutral society. Now they’ve got it. So what are you complaining about?”

We think that’s a pertinent and cogent argument – though a distressing one, since we’re not all feminists.

And it doesn’t exonerate the men.

So the manly virtues (if you’ll forgive a quaint phrase) shrivel away to the so-called “man caves,” those sad little redoubts of beer and premium cable sports networks.

We are beyond social norms these days. A woman can be a soldier. A man can be a woman. A 7-year-old cross-dressing boy can join the Girl Scouts in Colorado because he “identifies” as a girl. It all adds to life’s rich tapestry, no doubt. But I can’t help wondering, when the ship hits the fan, how many of us will still be willing to identify as a man. …

Now to the nub:

The Costa Concordia isn’t merely a metaphor for EU collapse but – here it comes down the slipway – the fragility of civilization. Like every ship, the Concordia had its emergency procedures – the lifeboat drills that all crew and passengers are obliged to go through before sailing. As with the security theater at airports, the rituals give the illusion of security – and then, as the ship tips and the lights fail and the icy black water rushes in, we discover we’re on our own: from dancing and dining, showgirls and saunas, to the inky depths in a matter of moments.

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