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Some Things Said.. (Feb 06) (2)

Clash of Civilization

As a way of addressing the Islamist threat to civil liberties in Europe, the Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad were hardly ideal. The right to mock a religion may be absolute, but so is the right to publish most forms of pornography: Neither is appropriate in a serious publication. That applies whether the religion is Islam, Christianity or any other, and whether the cartoons are being published for the first time or reprinted elsewhere as acts of solidarity in the face of an implied threat.

But after the attacks on Western embassies in Beirut, Damascus and Tehran, the murder of a Catholic priest in Turkey, the death of at least a dozen people throughout the Middle East in anti-Danish rioting and protests in Europe in which Muslim demonstrators urged a “real Holocaust” on the West, questions about press freedom seem almost quaint. What we are dealing with here is something else entirely…

So it has been in the case of the cartoons, which were first published in September, to the fairly muted protests of Danish Muslims. Ambassadors of 10 Muslim countries demanded that the Danish government “take all those responsible to task,” apparently forgetting that, unlike in their own countries, Danish authorities do not serve as press censors. Around the same time, an Egyptian newspaper reprinted the cartoons without drawing any noticeable wrath from Muslim clerics.

It was only after a December meeting of the 56 member states of the Organization of Islamic Conferences — all but a handful of which are dictatorships or absolute monarchies — that the “outrage” really took wing. No surprise here: as Sari Hanafi of the American University in Beirut told the New York Times, these autocracies made use of the cartoons (the most offensive of which were fabrications) as a way of showing that the expansion of freedom and democracy in their countries would lead inevitably to the denigration of Islam. From there it was but a short hop to the airwaves of al-Jazeera (owned by the Emir of Qatar), whose in-house cleric, Yussuf Qaradawi, a member of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, issued a fatwa calling for a “day of anger.”

Put simply, what we have witnessed isn’t the proverbial rage of the Arab street. It’s an orchestrated effort by illiberal regimes, colluding with fundamentalist clerics, to conjure the illusion of Muslim rage for their own political purposes. The Iranian mullahs seek to discredit Denmark as it assumes the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council, where Iran’s nuclear program is being discussed. The secular Allawite regime in Syria wants to shore up its ties with the Sunni religious establishment, especially now that Bashar Assad’s former vice president has declared a government in exile. The Saudis want to put behind them the latest stampede at the annual Hajj, where some 350 pilgrims were killed.

And in Europe, clerics and self-styled “community leaders” with close links to the Saudi government or the Brotherhood want to assert their dominance over populations that have yet to find their social or economic place in the mainstream worse.

In all the uproar, we find it telling that the two places where Muslim communities have shown restraint and moderation is in the United States and Iraq. American Muslims are overwhelmingly middle class, upwardly mobile and not very susceptible to the atavistic urgings of distant dictatorships. In Iraq, an unsilent majority has repeatedly made its views plain about the religious fanatics who demand to speak in their name. Just imagine the kind of anti-Western protests that would be taking place there now if Saddam were still in power. –excerpted from The Wall Street Journal, and the Opinion Journal website, 02.11.06

UNESCO’s Chavez outrage

Yes, apparently Hugo the Great was honored with the 2005 José Martí International Prize on Feb. 3 in Havana by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for doing whatever it is that he pretends to do for humankind in his Bolivarian playground. And who would bring this to our attention but the outstanding Nile Gardiner, and another Heritage fellow who is undoubtedly a worthy and hard-working scholar in his own right:

“…The Martí prize is intended to recognize those who have contributed to the ‘struggle for liberty’ in Latin America. Chávez is clearly not among this group, and the award is a major embarrassment to the United Nations, illustrating a longstanding lack of moral clarity within the world body on issues of individual freedom and liberty.

As a major contributor to UNESCO, the United States should strongly protest its decision to award this major prize to an aspiring tyrant. The Bush Administration should serve notice that Americas continued support of UNESCO is wholly dependent upon the organizations commitment to the ideals upon which it was founded.

… The José Martí Prize carries a purse of $5,000, though the UN insists that no funds from the U.S. government have been used to pay for it. UNESCO, however, receives significant U.S. taxpayer support, amounting to $84 million in 2004 and $80.8 million in 2005—about 22 percent of its annual budget. It has requested a further $71.4 million in U.S. funding for 2006.

The award to Hugo Chávez is an affront to the founding vision of UNESCO and the latest blow to the UNs rapidly declining reputation on human rights and democracy. Aside from Burma, Sudan, Iran, and Zimbabwe (all members of UNESCO), the UN would have to struggle to find two more repressive regimes than Venezuela and Cuba to glorify. …” –excerpted from an article by Bridget Johnson at her website GOPVixen, 02.11.06 find it here

Perhaps this is what he said that helped to identify him as a contributor “in the struggle for liberty?”

The imperialist, genocidal, fascist attitude of the U.S. president has no limits. I think Hitler would be like a suckling baby next to George W. Bush. –Hugo Chavez

Panel Asks New York to Join the Era of No-Fault Divorce

Albany — A commission appointed to look into New York States matrimonial laws called on Monday for an overhaul of divorce and child custody rules, including the authorization of no-fault divorces, which would put New York in line with all the other states.

By not allowing couples to end their marriages by mutual consent, New York has kept some of the strictest barriers to divorce in the nation. Currently, one party in the divorce must allege cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery, or abandonment — literal or sexual — for a year. That rule has often resulted in costly legal proceedings and bitter custody fights in cases where both sides want a divorce. –excerpted from an article by Danny Hakim in The New York Times

They may be revered, but we just cant seem to find time to read or understand either one…

Americans have long likened their Constitution to the Bible, an analogy usually intended to cultivate a reverence for the former by imbuing it with the sacred authority of the latter. George Washington, for instance, cherished the hope that “the free constitution” would “be sacredly maintained,” while James Madison counseled his fellow citizens to look upon their national charters as “political scriptures” and to guard them “with a holy zeal” against “every attempt to add to or diminish from them.” The similarities have been underscored ever since. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black—who was raised in one of Christianity’s most thoroughly bibliocentric traditions, the Primitive Baptist Church—once proclaimed the Constitution his “legal bible,” which he treasured “every word of…from the first to the last.” Ronald Reagan summed up the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights as “a gift from a loving God.” –from an article by Christopher D. Levenick, (from a book review of Interpreting the Bible and the Constitution by Jaroslav Pelikan), 02.02.06, from the Claremont Institutes Book Review, find the article here

What is and what should never be…

There are two sad ironies in the response of Muslims to this indignation (over the depictions of Muhammed). One is the fact that their reaction is an illustration of exactly what the cartoons are depicting. It is as if the protestors are saying “How dare you portray us as violent? We will kill you for that.” –excerpted from a Christian Wire Service posting sent in by Muriel McConnon 02.06.06

Get US not them…

Iran tells Muslims to target U.S., not Denmark, over cartoons

A senior Iranian cleric called on Muslims on Friday to direct their fury over cartoons of Islams Prophet Muhammad at the United States, rather than Denmark.

When crowds of worshippers in Tehran chanted “Death to Denmark” during his fiery sermon, Tehran Friday prayers leader Ahmad Khatami told them, “We shouldnt say “Death to Denmark. Denmark is nothing! We must say, “Death to America. Its the Americans who set up the likes of the Danes”…–excerpted from a posting at Jihad Watch 02.11.06, find the article here

Aborting Churches

Unholy death warrants.

Early in January, just in time for the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Episcopal Church reaffirmed its membership in an abortion-rights coalition.

During its January 9-12 meeting in Des Moines, the executive council of the Episcopal Church voted to clarify and affirm its membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).

RCRC, formerly known as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, was founded in 1973 with funding from the Playboy Foundation (and later from the Ford Foundation) to organize religious supporters of legalized abortion. RCRC is absolutist in its rejection of any restriction on abortion, defending the legality of partial-birth abortion, and opposing parental-notification laws, as well as other sensible restrictions.

Agencies of the Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, Reform Judaism, and Conservative Judaism all belong to RCRC. So too does “Catholics for a Free Choice.” RCRC was founded in the wake of Roe v. Wade to counteract Roman Catholic opposition to the Supreme Court ruling.

…Despite the claims of the “mainstream” on the issue of abortion, RCRC’s members are in fact an increasingly isolated minority among America’s churches. The vast majority of America’s over 160 million church members belong to Roman Catholic or evangelical churches that disapprove of abortion. Denominations totaling less than 20 million belong to RCRC. And the membership of those denominations is, in fact, deeply divided and ambivalent on the question of abortion…

The United Methodist Church unequivocally asserts, “We support the legal to abortion as established by the 1973 Supreme Court decisions.”

Episcopalians warn that “legislation concerning abortions will not address the root of the problem” and insist that any legislation must “see that individual conscience is respected.”

The United Church of Christ “upholds the right of men and women to have access to adequately funded family-planning services and to safe, legal abortions as one option among others.”

…But the demographic implosion may also have other, deeper contributing factors. One out of every six Americans belonged to a mainline denomination 40 years ago. Today it is one out of every 15. Writing for The American Journal of Sociology several years ago, Catholic priest (and romance potboiler author) Andrew Greeley, with two other sociologists, asserted that mainline Protestant decline is actually created by decades of declining birthrates in comparison to those for conservative Protestants and Roman Catholics.

…So perhaps unrestricted abortion is fueling the decline of the very same churches who have most championed it. The irony is a sad one. –excerpted from an article by Mark Tooley in The National Review, 02.10.06, find the complete article here

ADF attorneys to defend signers of marriage amendment petitions in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court grants motion to intervene filed by ADF attorneys on behalf of petition signers

Boston — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, representing signers of an initiative petition for a state constitutional amendment to define marriage in Massachusetts, have been granted entrance into a lawsuit that seeks to remove the popular amendment from the ballot.
“Were very excited to have the opportunity to work on behalf of the people of Massachusetts to defend the longstanding legal definition of marriage against the partisan special interests who want to redefine marriage to accomplish their political goals,” said Glen Lavy, senior vice president of ADFs Marriage Litigation Center. “The Massachusetts Constitution allows for voter initiatives in order to maintain a series of checks and balances.”
The proposed amendment states, “When recognizing marriages entered into after the adoption of this amendment by the people, the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall define marriage only as the union of one man and one woman.” –excerpted from an article at by ADF Media Relations, 02.08.06 read the article here

Nothing sacred?

Is nothing sacred to the left anymore other than a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy? Does the left’s “morally superior” ideology entitle them to abandon their manners at will? Are there any adults left among them who are willing to police their misbehavior? –David Limbaugh

Zimbabwe audits millers as food shortages bite

Harare – The Zimbabwe government’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has begun auditing the country’s millers in the wake of worsening shortages of the staple mealie-meal and a looming shortage of bread.

The GMB, the only company permitted by law to buy maize and wheat from farmers or to import the grains, is tasked with ensuring food security in the country but its silos are understood to be empty because it does not have hard cash to pay foreign suppliers. In a circular to millers on Friday, the GMB said its grain procurement and distribution team would visit milling factories in a new exercise to vet the companies and ensure wheat and maize were not being diverted to the illegal black market. “This notice serves to inform all millers that the task conduct a reverting exercise of all millers in the country in order to ensure compliance with the Grain Marketing Act and any other legislation,” the circular reads in part.

Zimbabwe has grappled severe food shortages since 2000 because of falling farm production after President Robert Mugabe expelled the country’s white large-scale producing commercial farmers and redistributed their farms to landless black peasants. But he did not give the black villagers resettled on former white farms skills training or inputs support to maintain production. Food output has dropped by about 60 percent since Mugabe began seizing white farms. The grain shortages have worsened in recent weeks with for example, the second largest city of Bulawayo going for over three weeks without any supplies of maize-meal, the main staple for more than 90 percent of Zimbabweans.

Milling firms earlier this week on Wednesday warned that the country would be completely without bread because they had run out of wheat to make flour. The GMB blames the millers for worsening the food crisis by diverting flour and maize-meal to the illegal but thriving black-market. Milling industry executives however say it is powerful government and ruling Zanu PF officials who are behind the food black-market. –from Zim Online, Zimbabwe News, 02.11.06, find the article here

(Although more than one tyrannical group or person is mentioned this week, this note was presented particularly to note that several countries in sub-Saharan Africa are in desperate shape due to the continuous looting by the elites and the despotic practices of the rulers and leaders. Do not forget that there are many Christians here and elsewhere, and those who might someday call on Christ. The situation in Zimbabwe is critical and worsens each day and makes the daily lives of people more than difficult. Yet you will likely never read of it in the US press. Similar situations exist all around. Watch and pray… RAV)

Child Tragedies: Missing Marriage

Seven shocking child deaths in the last four months: Liyah Atkinson, Quachaun Browne, Nixzmary Brown, Josiah Bunch, Dahquay Gillians, Sierra Roberts, Michael Segarra. This staggering death toll from abuse or neglect has focused justifiable attention on malfeasance at the city’s Administration for Children’s Services. But another thread tragically links these kids: All were living outside of an intact, married family.

Four-year-old Quachaun Browne died at the hands of his mother’s controlling, 18-year-old live-in boyfriend. One-year-old baby Josiah Bunch also appears to have died at the hands of a mother’s boyfriend. Nixzmary Brown, 7, was beaten to death by her domineering step-father. Three infants, Liyah Atkinson, Dahquay Gillians, and Michael Segarra, died in the custody of their unmarried mothers, apparently by accident. Sierra Roberts, 7, was killed when her single father lost his temper. And so it goes.

For all the heartbreaking media coverage, almost no stories have mentioned that children are much more likely to die outside of an intact, married home than they are to die inside an intact, married home. –by W. Bradford Wilcox, excerpted from his article in The New York Post, 02.08.06 read the article here

Article contributed by Richard Vandagriff and Mark Zaveson

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