Saturday, December 30, 2006

Relativism's Seven Sins Against Reason: Truth by Survey

Relativism has come up with yet another offense against logic. It is of course not new at all. On the contrary, the poisonous mixture of truth and the phenomenon of surveys has been around for a long time. As all neo-sophistry it starts innocent enough, but before long it reaches new depths as the misconception is allowed to live on.

It causes widespread mistakes, errors, misunderstandings and misconceptions about all matter. It suggests people's opinions, thought-through - or not, properly motivated - mostly not, matter in cases that are not their call at all; or that do not call for an opinion because they are questioning given facts, of nature or otherwise. It creates some kind of quasi democracy - whether appropriate or not. Surveys also suggest that if people vote it down and it happens all the same, this is done somehow Contrary to the Will of the People, causing some crypto-sense of Outrage.

This is how it could happen that, as over 51% of people surveyed returned a result of "Pope John Paul II should retire" this was in places taken quite seriously. The fact that St Peter had never taken out a pension policy and that it is therefore also not customary for his current replacement, doesn't enter the relativist mind, that is so full of its own idea that all and sundry dating before the period of the Enlightenment is obsolete, the folly of the question doesn't even occur to him. Let alone the conclusion that it's not The People's call, that the Roman Church isn't a Jeffersonian democracy avant la lettre, or that it is certainly not a matter for non-Catholics to decide.

Notwithstanding the given that public opinion is notoriously fickle and there is such a thing as the dictatorship by the majority to consider, all this has very little to do with fact and truth, and it is misleading the public.

Open a web-page and there's a survey to fill out. Let us know what you think! We value your opinion! Have your say! Before you know it, some lux in tenebris [1] will put to the question if God exists! "Fill in: yes or no". Hurray for the atheists: 50,3% of the people surveyed returned a No! It's now official: there is no God!
Crazy? Not so. It can happen tomorrow. I don't want to confuse the issues, but it's too good to pass up: consider weblog "The Atheist Ethicist" that this week posted the following trouvaille:

The Morality Test
In a recent posting, "Jewish Atheist" offered a ‘morality test [2] that attempted to collect empirical data that no two people are in complete agreement on a range of moral statements. What "Jewish Atheist" meant to imply from this set of data is not entirely clear. It is not clear, in part, because I can come up with a similar set of statements about things that are totally objective, where people are in disagreement about the facts of the matter ... et cetera, et cetera.

While the "Atheist Ethicist" correctly questions a test to establish morality, it commits the sin of confusing facts with opinion: you cannot disagree over facts; there are a given!
The Jewish variety goes on to suggest the following questions:

(1) At least one God exists.
(2) Humans are the product of a phenomena called ‘evolution’ in a universe designed by God in such a way that evolution would create humans.
(3) Jesus rose from the dead.
(4) Mohamed was a prophet of God.
(5) There is at least one planet with multi-cellular life within 1000 light years of Earth.
(6) Earth will be hit by an asteroid or comet at least 0.5 km in diameter within the next 100,000 years.
(7) There were dinosaurs on Noah’s Arc. Et cetera, et cetera.

This set of queries have nothing to do with morality. They are a selection of faith articles, plus one thrown in for good measure about Darwinism (which just goes to show that Ann Coulter wasn't that far off the mark), plus a few questions about astronomy that have no business there at all; but is doesn't matter as they're all irrelevant as far as morality is concerned.
Wait, I know a good secular question to put to the test: let's ask if anybody has problems dodging taxes? I think the rates can be abolished by tomorrow noon.
It defies belief sometimes what relativism can do to the brain!

It is of course only one of many offences against reason that are committed by the pseudo philosophers and sophists. To date I'm listing seven misconceptions on very basic matters, and counting. We'll come to each one in turn, given time. But please, the next time you see a survey, set it alight if laws of nature and personal safety allow.

I am considering organizing a contest for the Most Outrageous Survey, so by all means let me know if there is any one you come across that you'd like to submit for an award.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Ottoman spirit lives on

On 17th December I have been commenting how historical mistakes cast long shadows. Subject matter of the post was the difficult accession talks the E.U. is currently holding with Turkey. In reaction to the Turkish refusal of opening up its (air)ports to Cyprus carriers, eight chapters of the thirty five membership dossiers have been suspended, just thirteen months after they started. I concluded that the Turks unwittingly were offering proof of their unreadiness to be a part of Europe. I saw evidence of a mind-set, unbefitting a modern European state (power play, diplomatic bullying, driving excessive bargains, disrespecting minorities, not respecting/understanding the basic principles, all coupled with a general arrogance as a result of the Muslim superiority complex).

But now there is good news! EU Observer reports Turkey's foreign minister Abdulah Gul as saying: "If the goal is to reach European standards, then we will do it ourselves without the E.U. asking for it". Turkey is pro-actively "insisting it will implement the changes as outlined in the preliminary screening process in all areas, without waiting for extra instructions from Brussels".

What at the same time is so disappointing is that the report goes on to state that the country finds it "impossible to accept the E.U. acting in a way that is contrary to the core and spirit of our relations by hiding behind various excuses such as the Cyprus issue", the foreign minister is alleged to have said at a gathering of Turkey's main business groups last week, according to AFP agency. This breaths again the earlier reported attitude of the Ottoman empire: minorities are there to be ruled over as dhimmis and small countries can simply be bullied into submission.

While Turkey now understands that E.U. rules and regulations are not negotiable, what it still doesn’t get is that the E.U. is made up of many small countries - was founded in fact by the three miniature BeNeLux countries - each of which have about the same weight in the decision making process as the bigger ones. Otherwise it would just be a matter of lie down and be conquered, not by the sword but by higher politics. At the E.U. they may be relatived to the point of decadence, they're not daft, you know!

Mr Gul went on to stress, Turkey is not going to “abandon the struggle”. Be that as it may, neither is Cyprus. Big doesn’t equal better. There!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Real Scary Stufff ...! Bbbrrrrrrr ....

I don't scare easily. In fact, when spontaneously acting on the challenge "this is not for the faint-hearted" as I cannot help doing, you can rest assured you will get dished out a blog-full of stable produce, unpleasant but essentially harmless. What really fills me with apprehension is a blog like Larval Subjects, dedication of which is described as:

"Larvae are creatures in a process of becoming or development that have not yet actualized themselves in a specific form. This space is a space for the incubation of philosophical larvae that are yet without determinate positions or commitments but which are in a process of unfolding".
I may be doing this particular Blogger/Professor/Psychoanalyst a grave injustice, but when one gets a lot of phenomenological chaosmosis thrown at you, it makes me personally tremble to the core! The didactical manipulation and the guru posturing apart, the ultimate results for society can be devastating. Pseudo philosophy as relativism and fuzzy sophistry like deconstructionism probably started in a similar way: someone bringing the larvae of a "creative idea" to full incubation, to be let loose on a society as yet unaware of the impending danger.

Just to show how terribly confused a time in the development of humanity this is, a nevertheless hilarious quote from a leading news outlet's public comments section, deserving to be wrestled from the clutches of eternity. It is in reference of a debate currently taking place in The Netherlands, by which Ayaan Hirsi Ali (or more probably somebody in her by now infamous circle of extremist liberal secularists, or extreme secular liberals, I don't care) claimed the "right to insult" as the ultimate exercise in the freedom of speech. Queen Beatrix, delivering her yearly Christmas Speech, underlined the legal fact that such a right simply does not exist. Comments one particular peawit:
"The freedom of speech is total [1]... the Queen should shut up! And who doesn't get this by now, shouldn't even be here - so get lost, Mo!".
This is the result of all the relativism [2]... Scary stuff, eh?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The latest chapter in Operation Western Auto-destruct

Christmas 2006, Boxing Day and another conflict, a fresh war by proxy (or the second instalment of a rather stale one) ... not two days old and the Western press is already levelling the balance of power, or whatever it is they think they are doing in an attempt at "impartiality". In a so-called scoop they are appealing to the Western sense of chivalry, by which it is considered cowardice and generally bad form to attack someone whose back is turned. You might think it from a distant past, occasionally observed in outdated movies from a time when we were civilized, but apparently it is alive and well. Consider this head line:

"Ethiopian jets fire on retreating Somali Islamists"
The news
With the blessing of the African Union which has upheld its right to intervene the Ethiopia government launched attacks on Sunday against forces of the Council of Islamic Courts in Somalia and "foreign organizations" (terrorist groups) in a decision to protect the country’s sovereignty and in a back-up of the official Somali government. On Monday, Ethiopian jet fighters attacked another airport controlled by the Council of Islamic Courts in Somalia, a few hours after an air raid against the Mogadishu International Airport.
The Ethiopian government has asked for a surrender of the Islamist troops and promised no revenge would be taken. They called on the Islamists to surrender and promised them amnesty if they lay down their weapons and stop opposing the internationally recognized government. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said he does not intend to keep his forces in Somalia for long, perhaps only a few weeks. His goal is to damage the group's military capabilities so as to allow both sides to return to peace talks on an even footing.

A reminder
A reminder of U.N. and U.S. involvement in Somalia you might like to visit our Store Room, the place were we keep notes, clarifications, documentation, which might otherwise hamper easy reading here.
Back to the story
That Islamists, having taken power by force from the officially recognized government doesn't bother Reuters. That the Islamists have imposed strict sharia law (with all its excesses, corporal punishments, including stoning of adulterers and other violations of universal human rights) in the conquered areas, also doesn't bother them. That Bin Laden in a November 1996 press interview said that he had provided weapons to the warlords in Somalia during the relief operation and that his cadres carried out attacks against U.S. forces, stationed there in protection of said U.N. mission, doesn't bother them either. Nor that the U.S. government says four Al Qaeda leaders, believed to be behind the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, are now leaders in the Islamic militia.

The trick
Press agency Reuters, barely two days into the conflict, has already taken it upon themselves to restore the balance of power, or whatever it is they are doing, by creating an atmosphere against the "top dogs", the Ethiopian and the official Somali government, saying in effect: they are shooting innocent people in the back! What Reuters is doing is framing the situation in Muslim terms by opposing "we" being the kafirs (or infidels) to "them" being the Muslim faithfull; "they" are the under-dogs attacked by "us", thereby confirming what "they" have been saying for a long time. The Muslim perception has become the norm in the Western media. Or more correctly sometimes, it is how Western relativists/multi-culturalists think Muslims perceive it. It is a trick which is played out day after day in the news outlets, by which we are told the story of ourselves, re-framed in perceived Muslim terms. That is how Christianity and speeches by Pope Benedict are misportrayed, how news items are distorted and how policies are misrepresented.

The scoop?
What then is the meaning of such headlines? No other news outlet is carrying the story and the allegation is also not borne out by the story itself, except to say that "Ethiopian jets fired missiles on Somali Islamist fighters retreating on Tuesday ... "and that (thereafter, we must assume) an Islamist fighter commented that two planes attacked heavily in the last 30 minutes. "I can confirm three dead", he says in confirmation.

It is to be understood as a scoop of course by one of Reuters' people on the ground. I think it is just the latest chapter in Operation Western Auto-destruct under the banner of Down With Us. Now let's see if the story is picked up and/or followed by others ...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Give yourself a merry Christmas and sign the petition for the life of Salah Choudhury today!

Yesterday I received the following from the European Parliament and in all honesty, I'm impressed!


We acknowledge receipt of your message and in response to your inquiry we would like to inform you that the case of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a journalist who advocates dialogue between religions and recognition of Israel, is highlighted. He was arrested in November 2003 and is in danger of being condemned to death for sedition at his trial, which is due to open on November 13th. The European Parliament resolution on Bangladesh calls for a review of his trial and for his acquittal.We would like to invite you to read Eropean Parliament (EP) article from 16th November 2006 on this matter, available on this web page of the EP: For further reading we suggest the European Parliament resolution on Bangladesh. You may also wish to get in touch with your MEP. Contact details can be found on this page. We hope that this information will be of use to you.


Let's also hope this does Salah Choudhury's trial some good.
The petition can still be signed here. The counter stands on a mere 3330! Come give yourself a merry Christmas and sign the petition today!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

More Persons of the Year named

On the day a high-ranking Taliban military commander, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani, a close associate of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, is reported to have been killed in an airstrike this week close to the border with Pakistan, Dutch leading Elsevier's Magazine named its person of the year, the 1.600 men and women strong Dutch troops contingent in the Afghan province of Uruzgan. The honour was awarded "for forging a mission of war into one of reconstruction".

This goes against the grain of the national parliament which just concluded the opposite earlier this week. A (former Maoist) Socialist Party M.P. went so far as to term the mission a "dirty war". The erstwhile fringe party picked up as many as 26 seats in the election of last November and even became a serious player in the formation of the new government, albeit for a moment.

The troops in Uruzgan meanwhile, after having suffered a great many violent incidents initially, due to their tenacious attitude improved the situation to a large extent. A reconstruction shows that by the end of October things started changing for the better. Nevertheless, in two months' time they had nine near-fatal escapes and suffered two severely wounded, whom were rescued in a show of bravery, writes Elsevier.The pessimistic view in parliament in The Hague is countered by a number of positive developments on the ground in the Afghan province. There is less violence and U.N. relief workers have returned. The head of the reconstruction team has said there are even talks going on with Taliban leaders through intermediaries. General Berlijn states the troops are regularly confronted with the limits of their command instructions. Orders from regional NATO command in Kandahar are analyzed and tested at least once every two weeks.

Last year's Elsevier Person of the Year was maverick politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Dutch M.P. for the center-right liberal party VVD and an associate of film director Theo van Gogh, who was brutally assassinated last year by a Muslim extremist. Somali born Ms Hirsi Ali is presently a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

~ This post was originally written for and syndicated to Blogger News Network BNN ~

The war in Iraq must be going a lot better than we think! The insurgents are offering a 30-day truce. Ostensibly for our troops to pull out, but it's a fair guess they need a break themselves.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Today I started posting news items for Blogger News Network (BNN)

Today I started posting news items at BNN, being the Blogger News Network (not BNN of Dutch disrepute) under call sign trojan0505. I debuted with Saddam's second trial, which seemed a worthy cause for the occasion.
The marines are no longer angry at me (cheers!).
I've been half the day off line due to Greek technology still being wonky (perhaps those infamous copper cables again), which I must admit feels strangely cut off from the rest of humanity. Winter has finally arrived in Greece, just before Christmas. Not nearly as bad as the U.K. though, which is reporting fog (once again poor continent cut off!) and Colorado has vast masses of snow to celebrate a white Christmas in style; but apparently it's not nearly as pleasant as you might think when you're snowed in and nowhere to go. This may still happen in Greece too - well, it happened last year anyway - there's no saying. So much for the trivialities (my cousin, who's doing some artwork for the Ad Swap for me (?), is going to love this item).

In between I prepared a piece about higher matters. Seemed atmospheric for Christmas:

Astronomers of Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope have looked at the first stars that formed after the big bang. They aren't anything like stars known today, nor anything else for that matter. Some are a thousand times larger than our sun and very, very bright. Actually, they may not be stars at all, but early black holes, inhaling gas and exhaling radiation, thus forming the earliest galaxies. The objects are 13 billion light-years away, the time when the events took place, and are clustered in mini-galaxies. Cosmic figures are beyond human imagination ...

Which reminds me of an article on the site of Discovery Institute, "Priest of the Cosmos", a review by Messrs Gonzalez and Richards of the book "The Day without Yesterday: Lemaitre, Einstein and the Birth of Modern Cosmology". The book touches on the life and work of Belgian priest and cosmologist Georges Lemaitre.

It also recalls the sad way in which religion by today's secularists is set apart as lacking in reason and scientific thinking, as if there never were Scholastics and natural philosophy for instance. The book by Thomas Woods "How the Catholic Church built Western Civilization", on which I did a review on these pages only few months ago, reminds us of the accomplishments of the Catholic Church in this respect and how much we owe Catholicism. The example of Galilei is often brought forward as a prime example how the church suppressed the advance of science, but it is never explained this trial happened in the first place because Galilei couldn't prove what he said. If that isn't pretty scientific thinking, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm on a roller-coaster and apologize to the Armed Forces

I know I promised interesting stuff from the Town Hall and I also owe an instalment of life at the base after crisis point, but first things first.

- A public apologies on my part: yesterday in a misplaced attempt at being funny, I unawares insulted the blokes of the NATO Task Force in Uruzgan with my remark about them rabbit-holing over there, which is a bit demeaning for them when in actual fact they get shot at on an almost daily basis! Nobody knows that better than I do, what with them having all the muscles and the big guns on their side! As proof in point I've been forwarded a link with video material: here it is. A word of caution though: as things do tend to get a bit rough you are advised to watch it either from under a table, or at least don a protective saucepan over the head (hope that's not too flippant). Merry Christmas, laddies and keep it clean! I'm sincerely proud of you!
To which I'd like to add and stress at 23.50 L.T., having just seen a video of last night's Nova TV program, that my arrows are firmly pointed at those Dutch M.P.s who're having trouble fighting terrorists, indeed are shocked that our boys are actually fighting in Afghanistan, while they were sent (indeed marines!) to do reconstruction work. It's the hypocracy there I'm having trouble with. Socialist Party M.P. Van Bommel yesterday issued a press release calling the war on terrorism in Afganistan "a dirty war", no less! I rest my case ...

- The Middle East Forum published an article by Rachel Silverman in respect of a speech by Robert Satloff held in Philadelphia on Monday, about his new book Among the Righteous, which took him four years of study. He sees it as "a potential antidote to the trend of Holocaust denial and trivialization in the Muslim world". His search for an Arab Oskar Schindler resulted in two heroes. A former mayor of Tunis, who sheltered sixty Jewish workers, and the rector of the Great Mosque in Paris who saved Jews by supplying them with false identity papers. These are wonderful stories of course, were it not for the reasons they remained hidden for so long: Arabs don't want them to be known and Jews tend to see the Holocaust in an Ashkenazi context.

- On a another note, Ayaan's is in trouble again. It was not enough to get her career as an M.P. ruined and her identity stripped. Now some envious gutter journalist is trying to nib her career at the American Enterprise Institute in the but as well by suggesting her work is not her own, but done by people in her circle of friends and sympathisers. Leon de Winter in no uncertain terms (which I personally feel do him no justice) describes the attempt with feeling. Although it is exemplary of how people, one size too big are treated in Holland and stories like that regretfully tend to stick, it is a bit silly as well. Has the entire Society for the Promotion of Ayaan been moved with her to the U.S. to hold her hand, or was Ayaan's latest article a joint online effort? According to Leon de Winter, besides appearing in the International Herald Tribune the article was also syndicated to the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Die Welt, Corriere della Sera, El Pais, Expressen, Aftenposten and Le Temps. Good for you, gal!

- On today's calender:
The extent to which citizens trust each
other is equal to their sense of happiness.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A very active blogosphere indeed!

I have a daily alert with Google . Every morning I find in my email a link list with all hits on "relativism". I get to know friend and foe alike. My foes I won't mention but to state that there is the occasional religion basher and/or quasi intellectual post-modern philosopher with a "weak" head who thinks he has something worthwhile to add to this already quite sufficiently deconstructed world. Sometimes I am even stupid enough to study their cerebral products seriously, thereby committing an offense against time management.
Friends sometimes make it very fast indeed to the list of Friends and Foes, in the column on your left hand side. The pickings were today of a special nature. So outstanding in fact that I feel the urge to mention them here specifically.

On #3., as Blog of Special Interest: Pope Benedict XVI Fan Club, no less! Sign up and make it official now!

Number 2, a post on a matter which remained under the radar I'm ashamed to admit. But some scouts in the spiky field of relativism are on the alert for P.C. bomb shells, multi-culti snipers and deconstructionist contraptions: Colby Willen of Birmingham, Alabama's Vocabuli Blogspot spotted it sure enough: Time's choice of Person of the Year is Relativism Personified!

Top of the pops, the uncontested number 1 is ..... Archbishop Cranmer's Blog on the Examination of Religio-Political Agendas with Religio-Politican Objectives. You'd be excused for thinking the archbishop is long history, but some clever foot-soldier has reincarnated him in the fight against halal meat for all faiths and denominations alike, and other such abominations! A well deserved laurel for a job well done!

I've also been active, posing rhetorical questions on the Uruzgan Blog (Que? ... Uruzgan Blog ...!). That's the Afghan province where the Aussie-Dutch NATO Task Force is rabbit-holing. On my question why it is that some European countries are having trouble fighting terrorists (honest, the Dutch parliament only wanted to send troops if they would be doing the job any government sponsored NGO could do better, namely building schools and hospitals - as if that is where we train our marines for!). I got a long and very diplomatic answer, which ducked the political implication with great agility. Bravo, boys ... athletic in more ways than one. I expressed the hope that attitudes as the Dutch parliament's, wouldn't unduly demoralize them. But after being left holding the politically red hot potato of Srebrenica the Dutch boys and girls are up to anything ghastly the U.N., NATO or the E.U. may throw at them.

This is not a post on Robert Mugabe and his African hell-hole of Zimbabwe.

And the Dutch are perfectly normal, middle of the road Europeans when it comes to fighting crime. In many other respects they're really a bit subnormal, but shshut .. don't tell them ... they think everybody is as they are.

In the next posting some goodies from the Town Hall of the U.S. conservative heartland which has something very intelligent to contribute on tolerance.

I am closing This Daily Cause in the words of G.K. Chesterton, copied from the papal fan club site:

"The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man
from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age".

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dissecting relativism: After crisis point (I)

My heroin Ayaan Hirsi Ali has surfaced at the American Enterprise Institute. She debuted with an article on the Muslim ignorance of the holocaust for the International Herald Tribune. Haven't had the time to read it yet, so I am reserving judgment. Afraid I'm a bit biased, though, so the verdict will surely be that it's very laudable indeed. Ayaan, I am so proud of you!

Speaking of which, on CNN I heard in passing the other day somebody say something original and worthwhile on the Iraq war situation for a change. Danielle Pletka is Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and apparently a girl with her head screwed on the right way (they seem to collect them at AEI). I've looked in vain for articles of her hand on the subject. Much a pity, but perhaps she'll publish at a later date. Her opinions are certainly worthwhile.

Time to go on with an instalment of Dissecting relativism:

Dissecting relativism: After Crisis Point (I)
In this setting, where the environment provokes litte more beyond the realm of pain or pleasure (there are lab rats with a deeper spiritual life), where life gravitates around amassing material wealth and where on a bread-and-butter level life is dominated by trivialities passing for events of world shattering importance, where parental intellectual guidance is left to teachers and education is debilized (downgraded to moron level) to unsustainable depths, there are hoards of relativists who radiate their message of equality of all and sundry relentlessly, therein aided by philosophical demolishers who finish the job of declaring an end to our civilization as we know it.

The principle of equality as a exclusively legal term has long been forgotten and is applied to well, basically everything. The message instead being that everybody is right in their own way and objective truth doesn't exist. Furthermore it is maintained that pluralism is good and healthy and not divisive and alienating, that multi-culturalism is a given fact so why fight it, and that tolerance is the remedy for keeping the peace in this cultural hotchpotch. Those that delude themselves with the thought they are truer than others, are either rather intolerantly put away as fundamentalists* or thrown together in a box marked "right-wing riffraff".

In the meantime, under influence of relativism, we adopt our enemies' terms ("North Korea is now a proud nuclear power" instead of "North Korea is under the mistaken impression that blackmail through nuclear weapons adds prestige to their image") and apologize and appease objectionable regimes of all plumage.
To be continued.

* Has anybody thought to find out what the definition is?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

About historical mistakes casting long shadows

I'm looking forward to goodbyes to my long-term subscription to Time Magazine. I got it when I was still living in the old country, which is so left-leaning that journalism like Time’s, seemed from that vantage point a pretty neutral sort of rag. But that's not the point. As I am impatiently waiting for my next Amazon shipment to arrive, I got hold of a few random articles in Time and stumbled upon “Slow train to Europe; With controversy over Cyprus, Turkey’s membership on the E.U. fades further into the future”. This is of course in the light of E.U. Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn’s recent recommendation and subsequent acceptance of eight chapters of the 35 of Turkey’s membership talks, to be suspended, just 13 months after they started; all in reaction to Turkish intransigence to opening up its (air)ports to Cyprus carriers (the official half of that island state, that is).

In Time’s words, the accession train isn’t wrecked, but it will be slowed considerably. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that this is the consequence of Turkey not fulfilling its obligations.
It so happens I saw a news item the other day (don’t remember where), which made my hair stand on end. In the manner of current affairs programs passers-by in Ankara's high streets were surveyed about the E.U. membership talks. The figures pro went from 64 percent at the start of the talks, to a mere 32 percent at current levels. I actually heard someone commend on how the E.U. dare put forward all these demands, "after the Turks have given Europe its civilization"!'* What, darned tulip bulbs?! Apparently they are having strange ideas about what it is exactly that constitutes civilization. Unless, of course they mean this big, gaping black hole, right in the middle of Greek national history, which isn't mere bulbs, I can tell you!

With these reactions and others the Turks are unwittingly offering proof of their unreadiness to be a part of Europe. They simply don’t get lots of things. For example that the accession talks aren't a “bazari”, a series of negotiations in which both partners personally give and take, but instead a basic set of laws and regulations that each and every member state must implement and adhere to. Because of this attitude it feels to them as if the E.U. is piling demand upon demand on Turkey personally and that they personally have to “give in” time after time, which is very degrading to the proud Turkish nation!

Just like the old mentality of power politics, on which I have commented before in these pages. The mentality of a big country, that is no party to a dwarf state like Cyprus. They don’t understand that the E.U. is made up of any number of small countries (founded in fact by the three miniature BeNeLux countries), each of which has about the same weight in the decision making process as the bigger ones. This principle was on the point of being somewhat undercut by the proposed E.U. Constitution, reason why the Dutch have voted it down. It will of course be brought again to the table in another guise, but that’s another story.

But, Barroso doesn’t want to close the door to the proud Turkish state just yet. On the other hand there are a number of prominent European politicians, not all at ease with the Turkish membership. German Chancellor Angela Merkel for one. She’s not alone either. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Interior Minister and presidential candidate, and Bavarian Governor Edmund Stoiber have also voiced criticism, as have Austria, Greece and Cyprus (no surprises from the Eurovision axis as yet).

Other problems lie in the areas of minority rights, freedom of speech and faith and the press, apart from that ridiculous law against insulting Turkishness, of which so much is being said, but is still not revoked.
I understand the atmosphere in Turkey is leaning towards actually ceasing accession talks from their end, but we're not to hold our breaths yet. But they won’t go back on Cyprus! Really, how can you expect to become a respected member of a club, saying simultaneously that another member, albeit a small one, will be either ignored or bullied into submission? Basis their geography Turkey may be a key player in many regions, there’s a reason they are friendless, apart from the few relationships of convenience they are involved in.

As long as Turkey is drawing for its mentality on traditional Middle Eastern political attitudes of power play, diplomatic bullying, driving excessive bargains, negotiating over absolutes coupled with an obnoxiously arrogant attitude in general, it will culturally and mentally be part of the east. It will not understand Europe, nor will it be ready to become a part of it. Europe we must accept has a Judaeo-Christian history and mind-set (which among other things made modesty a kind of chic trait).

That particular European mentality has been undercut of course by the latter day relativist generations and the multi-culti "Down With Us" deconstructionists. Thankfully a few generations not a barbarian make.

* N.B. I'm adding this note as a precaution, as it occurred to me that some victims of relativism might actually be persuaded to believe this remark, made by an anonymous Turkish woman in the program. No relativism on her part, of course.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Your ticket to a fun-filled weekend

I need a break before sustaining another instalment of "Dissecting relativism". That's why I am giving you today news items of a various nature for your amusement, at the end of which you probably won't know where you are (which must be fun, for a change and a healthy alternative for the usual poisons - ah, all is relative ...).

The interested reader is advised to take careful note of the following:

- Moderate Muslims Release Manifesto
We, the moderate Muslims of the world have sat by for far too long and watched as our great religion has been hijacked by those who have committed horrendous acts in Islam's name. Rapes, murders, and worse have been committed by those purporting to do Allah's will. But no more. From this day forth, the following commandments shall be the guidelines that all true, peaceful Muslims ... read more

- Always a source of the remarkable, Hellenic Radio & Television is reporting that on the initiative of the International Foundation Mozarteum in Saltzburg all of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music will be available on the Internet for free, commemorating his 250th anniversary of his birth. A playground for the aficionado!

That should get you through the weekend. Cheerio!

Stop press - stop press - stop press - stop press - stop press - stop press
More signs of cerebral sanity just reported: a representative of an NGO (I didn't get which one), working in Africa just advocated, live on CNN Television, the use of small amounts of DDT indoors in the fight against malaria! That's hope yet for humanity!

... and Fidel Castro is NOT dead (says his buddy Chavez) ...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ode to Donald Rumsfeld

"As you know, you go to war with the army you have,
not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dissecting relativism, The Base (III): Third generation at crisis point

I've been at it again last night, or should I say this morning! It's because I have been reading an article by Barry Rubin of the Middle East Forum, titled Arab Politics: Back to Futility. On the basis of one of the Middle East's favourite style figures, that of comparing the present situation with another in the past, thus providing some gloss to an otherwise shoddy piece of journalistic work, I was at first a bit apprehensive about it. It compares the present situation (Islamic fundamentalism led by Iran's president Ahmadinejad) to the situation in the 1950-1960 (Pan-Arab nationalism led by Egypt's President Nasser). But it is of another style altogether, well-investigated, thoroughly thought through and could give us some foresight into the near future. If so, we are in for a big conflagration (which is on the books anyway, of that I am convinced), but we all know how Nasser's plans worked out in the end. I'm not that sure about the futility, though! And the Arabs shall have to accept Iranian hegemony in the region, which also a bit of a stretch.

For today's illustration I been rummaging through images of said dreadful conference in Tehran, old Adolf pics, etc. All pretty drab, really. I prefer a picture I kept for it's own sake, a good photo. I think it's in Rome ... here it is:

Which brings me back to The Daily Star of Lebanon, which provides us with some more insight into Ahmadinejad's brain brawls, this time in re of the anti-holocaust conference, held in Tehran earlier this week. It would be nice and easy to dismiss the man as a raving islamist who doesn't know any better, but at our peril. What he means with the whole lunatic exercise is this:
1. The holocaust doesn't suit my purposes, so he denies it ever happened.
2. It negatively impacts the status quo (from his point of view).
2. The European Union and Germany itself are built on the ruins of that event and are what they are today, because of it. The West protect Israel on that basis and will prevent it ever happening again.
4. In his letter to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Admadinejad says in so many words that, just imagine what your country (and Europe) would be if it didn't have this "imposition".
At which point I would like to make a M.E. style figure of my own, namely of comparing Ahmadinejad with Hitler, who told the Germans after World War I: "just imagine what your country would be if it didn't have this "imposition" (of being lumbered with heavy repair payments). I am not an admirer of present, inflationary remarks made left, right and center with reference to events and people of WWII, but this guy is simply begging for it. Better still, I think he'll take it as a compliment.

Back to our last generation of post-moderns at crisis point.
Dissecting relativism, The base (III), continued
Should there unexpectedly be a feeling of spiritual emptiness, this can be remedied by dabbling in vague mystical concepts of a much further past, or of a brand new variety for that matter. For those seeking a practical hobby or pseudo-guidelines there are astrology, numerology, stonology and the like, and for those seeking a quick fix there is aroma-therapy and hot stones, should you be medically inclined. For the pseudo-scientist there is The Field (or whatever it's called) and bio-rhythms; the not too timids can go all the way in neo-paganism and Wicca. For fallen Christians Gnosticism and Da-Vinci-Code'ism is recommended (the latter formerly known - before a hoax was admitted and Mr Brown got away with plagiarism - as "the secret of the Priory of Sion", which was exciting and fun while it lasted, but was nonetheless a bit of a cult and seriously believed by lots of romantically inclined gullibles).

Besides that, we are told every day, implicit or explicit that all these, and each and every idea born of humanity, however barbaric, downright luny or brave and brilliant, are equally valid. (Christendom excepted, which supported very bad things in the past that The West did to other peoples.)

Each his or her own truth, depending on where you come from, your situation and particular place in the world.
Can you blame poor people from stealing a loaf of bread (supported by a Dutch bishop), or Africans for waging tribal wars (which is a result of the West's imperialism that drew arbitrary and unnatural borders between countries), or Indians for extensive navel-staring under coconut trees (this is what their faith tells them to do and is their way to cope with poverty), and so on, and so forth.
Besides, what to do in case of a paradox or a contradiction. The way out of that one and to keep the peace in the world, is by declaring them all equal. It is also fits our idea of democracy, egalite, n'est pas?

This is however ignoring what's plain to see for everybody who wants to. Stealing is not done, because that would end in Darwinian chaos, the strong knocking the weak over the head to get to a mobile phone. That would be a free for all in which no body's property would be safe anymore, so having any property would be senseless, so why should we work, etc.
African tribal warfare is equally of the stone age, and bad for obvious reasons (don't start me again on survival of the fittest, or mother earth being crushed by the sheer weight of so many people inhabiting it!).
While a people whose faith prescribes extensive navel staring as the highest good, would always remain poor and couldn't be dragged out of misery by all the development assistance in the world.

One could of course argue that only a westerner would think this way. We are always thinking in terms of economy, money and practicalities. That may be so, but why then is it that nobody in his right mind would advocate a anarchistic Darwinian society, Africans would come to the West en masse if they only could and Indians are by now also discovering starvation doesn't bring nirvana any nearer and what the benefits are of some basic earthly goods.

Of course it could be said that all these people see it the wrong way and are indoctrinated, believe in fairy-tales, et cetera, but how high is this chance? I know ... equally high as relativism is true.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dissecting relativism, The Base (II): Second generation post-moderns

A few interesting news items for sharing:

- Pope Benedict is not letting off on relativism: "A 'weak' (ed. relativist, post-modern) vision of the person, which would leave room for every conception, even the most bizarre, only apparently favors peace. In reality, it hinders authentic dialogue and opens the way to authoritarian impositions, ultimately leaving the person defenceless and, as a result, easy prey to oppression and violence." Thanks to John Allen for the daily dose of sanity!

- George Weigel has an uncanny ability to say what I mean: "... no program of state-sponsored assistance or massive philanthropic endeavour can ever replace individual acts of compassion". It is a thought too subtle for a Batavian to get his brain around, I fear.
Unrelated, but it reminded me of the criticism of being "unprofessional" that Mother Theresa once received from a heavily state-sponsored well-do-society - those that are the first to leave when the going gets rough ...! The media then report that "NGO so and so has left the country as it is no longer possible to do their work properly". The paradoxes of our time: armies and relief workers that quit because "it is too dangerous". It's like cooks that no longer want to work in the kitchen, as it tends to get too hot in there!

- Chairman of the European Council of Bishops Conferences (COMECE), Rotterdam bishop Adriaan van Luyn, on Monday issued a statement to the effect that citizens should get more involved in the project of "European unity". Hear, hear!

- Back to the Middle East where it is becoming apparent that the Sunni Arab countries are getting more nervous by the day of the Iranian sable rattling. This article in The Daily Star mentions in passing that apart from - encouraging Saudi youngsters to go fight in Iraq - anti-royal Shiite Ahmadinejad is "demolishing all the efforts that (former Iranian President) Khatami made to allay the Arab's fears ...". The article mentions as well - and the Americans are advised to take note - that "cries of treason are elicited from the Arab world when Americans change track and invite Iran into Iraq to pacify it". Frankly, I am at a total loss to understand how an apparent set of intelligent, elderly statesmen like the members of the Iraq Study Group, can come up with such a shocking idea (for want of a more diplomatic word). It's stunning! I hope George Bush is his normal self and puts it where it belongs.

Now back to our series, dissecting relativism:
Dissecting relativism, The base (II), continued
The subconscious moral Christian remnants are already much less in evidence in these children: okay, killing and stealing isn't done, but the odd white lie shouldn't be a problem, especially if it is in a good cause, like not hurting some body's feelings or getting away with a minor transgression, and such. They also choose other causes to support, not the Red Cross but Green Peace, not Churches for African Mission but Amnesty International or Doctors Without Borders. They feel that homelessness is more often a life-style than anything else, and some people shouldn't wallow so much in self pity.

By the time this generation is in turn ready to start a family, which is late in the day, they probably won't marry at all but co-habit, girls will have had a reasonable education and have jobs, their affluence has risen exponentially, while moral has become a rarely used dirty word and a spiritual life is on the back-burner. The general attitude towards society is one of "anything goes, as long as nobody gets (physically) hurt" and the principle of non-interference is expected to be reciprocated (trespassers, and that includes the whole of society, from relatives to politicians and other public figures who dare question their specific life-style of choice, are asked who the @&# they think they are).

Their children won't have any roots left at all in the old, Christian ethics and values that once ruled the life of their forebears. Morality is undefined and a hotchpotch of vague notions, picked up here and there from foreign faiths and persuasions, which we are told, are all equally valid. Their personal ethic code is shelved in something, resembling a conscience, which tells them they shouldn't be doing one thing or another, but do it all the same because it is easier. At best there is the liberal yardstick, of the garden reaching to where the neighbour's begins. But most people do not even go as far as that. Society's moral guidelines are almost entirely made up of what the law of the realm stipulates, which is a danger in itself. Forgiveness and reconciling is no longer an obvious solution for resolving conflicts; a total break is found easier, while vengeance is no problem. Self obsessed behavior and egocentricity have replaced the foremost Christian principle "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Sexuality and related areas I am leaving here out of the equation altogether: even I do not have that much time. But I understand from a new report that with the addition of the Internet into the sexual playground, humanity has reached new depths in the separation of Eros and Agapi (in the sense of new demotic Greek, not the Pope's terminology).

The reader is advised to make a mental mark (!) at this point, as we shall come back here often in these pages. This is the point were society - bumped and bruised, not knowing anymore where they are after the umpteenth social experiment of jilting old values for new ones - truly flies unawares off the rails! For easy identification I call it crisis point.
It is also the point where liberals start hitting the tiles and get red in the face when confronted with their lack of moral backbone. They assure us they have one and the Bible-based mustn't think they are the only ones with a moral code, just because they have a book ... which is usually left at that.
To be continued.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dissecting relativism, The Base (I): Demolishing relativism and its obnoxious relatives

The International political situation is getting more complicated and news items are getting grimmer by the day. While the Iranian, Syrian and Turkish wolves are encircling the dying remnants of Mesopotamia, ready to carve it up into three parts, rid it of its oil reserves and call such a concept as an independent Kurdish state a prospect of the past, Lebanon and Palestine are in trouble in more ways than one. In the meantime Pakistan is doing business in the time-honoured way in that part of the world, by playing two or more tableaus at once, and saying yes and doing another. Lest we forget we owe the existence of the Taliban to Pakistan, then ruled by the first female Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto! Apparently the hens are coming home to roost.
I belief it is just a matter of time before the fur starts flying seriously. The only question is whom against whom?

In the meantime I owe a book review of "Without Roots" (tagged The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam) and co-written by Marcello Pera, Professor of Science Philosophy at the University of Pisa and former President of the Italian Senate, and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict XVI was known before his election. Since however, this book is nothing less than at the very heart of this blog, I can hardly treat it as any other. If I followed what I'd really wish, I'd dissect it here page by page, word by word. But that would be taking the entire book apart, which would ne'er do. So, I think it suffices to say with sincere respect, but in rather domestic terms, that this is The Cookery Book for the next thirty to forty years or so, or at least until we have rid ourselves of the bane of our time, relativism and its big bully of a brother deconstructionism, including its little ugly cousins once removed, political correctness and multiculturalism. But we can analyse the problem, can't we?

Dissecting relativism, The base (I) (which is al qa'ida in Arabic, but that's just an unpleasant coincidence and is neither here nor there).
The West's secularization, which has firmly set in at the end of World War II, is still in progress, but if signs don't deceive us at a less rapid pace than during the period roughly between 1980 and 2000. But by now there have been generations of children growing up without having learned about their Christian heritage, either from their parents or their (secular) teachers. Mom and dad have done away with faith and the church as something of their parents and grandparents', a relic of the past which has no place in modern society, that is all about getting an education, a home and a car, keeping up with the holidays of the neighbours and all other material wealth we think we need to be happy and healthy.

As the years went by this generation of baby-boomers rid themselves of the last remnants of their Christian "hang-up" of their youths: a frustrated sexuality, the feeling of being watched from above and the angst of being punished for bad mistakes in the after-life. Subconsciously they retained however a basic Christian morality: nothing elaborate, but what we must, or shouldn't do, like killing other people or stealing. But they also still felt guilty about telling lies and they kept true to other past values as solidarity, compassion, empathy and belief in the truth.

Of course they didn't want to "lumber" their children with the fears and inhibitions of their youths, so what the younger generation got from the faith of their parents were a few atmospheric stories for under the Christmas tree and a vague historical account of what is Easter. Christian official feast days could just as well be called bank holidays for all they are worth: a day to sleep in from the night before and keep up with the admin or homework. If those children happened to attend a faith-based school, their knowledge and awareness may go a little further than just skin-deep, but not very much. That is the extent of it.
To be continued.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why the European Union will never be loved

It is on the day the Dutch ambassador's wife to Indonesia announces she will no longer serve pork sausages, I discover a blog entirely devoted to the early destruction of the Restoration, that the shameless Anti-Holocaust conference opens in Tehran. Not a good start, so to speak.

But there's no day so bad that there's no good news at all, albeit minor. A Dutch-Moroccan organisation in one go proves quite a bit, namely that,
1. faith has nothing to do with brain-cell count (contrary to what some believe),
2. there are other means of pressing a point than blowing people to smithereens (but most of us knew that already, so no news there) and
3. it pays not to give in to blackmail and threats (ask Geert Wilders: try the search button or the tag list).
In the recent past I already commented that the Iraqis are hugging each other to death; now this Dutch-Moroccan organisation is going to try to do the same with Geert! I don't think it will last long though, as they really hate his guts for taking a stand, contrary to their own!

Contrary to my activist colleague at One Cosmos Blog (this is the last time I am linking to him) I believe in The Truth. You see, I don't place myself in "one camp" which is hence pronounced infallible and devote myself to publicly saying the "other camp" consists entirely of brainless morons who are wrong ... even if what they say is actually true and/or of some value (so much for modern tribal warfare, of which I want no part). What relativists don't get is, that for too long we have let people like them tell us we are the bad guys and should therefore get deconstructed by a philosophical parlor trick. Their logic is also badly flawed: "us" being bad, doesn't make "them" (whoever they are) good, and vice versa. In other words, if we are proud of our culture, it doesn't mean automatically that "theirs" should be confined to the cultural scrap heap!

So, knowing there is such a thing as The Truth I have been pondering a bit about something I have written about the Dutch Prime Minister, Jan-Peter Balkenende (JPB) in relation to a remark he made in the press about his personal relationship with God. Here's the link to that post for easy reference.

The point is the following: France, the country of the The Revolution and laicite (can anybody tell me where those @#!* accent keys are hiding?), is a neutral state: it is faithless, it is secular (about which the Pope today had a few words to say, by the way). I haven't read the now brain-dead draft E.U. Constitution on this point (although we do know that the preamble in respect of Europe's Judaeo-Christian roots, hotly advocated by the late Pope John Paul II, was regretfully rejected by the Europarls), but what it does look like is that the French concept has been given unofficial E.U. policy status.

It is not a minor point we are discussing; it is on the contrary a basic issue of utmost importance, which nobody is asked about, citizen nor member-state is democratically consulted: it just becomes a point of policy, secretly pushed through. Where the members of Parliament are on this point, or what it is exactly that they are doing, is unknown. Because it is debatable if the French concept of the neutral state is the one we need or indeed want for the E.U. as a whole, let alone if it isn't a subsidiary matter (for the individual states).

Why it struck me that JPB was making the comment that he did, was not because in his Calvinist tradition the relationship one has with his God is a personal one, but because this is not per se true for Holland is a whole. The Dutch state guarantees its citizens freedom of faith (among other relevant rights, about which more later in a post dedicated to the separation of Church and State), but is not in itself "neutral". For example the rim of the Guilder bore the text "God zij met Ons" (God be with us). Under the influence of relativism in the guise of multiculturalism this was abolished with the introduction of the ... Euro.

I say the guise of multiculturalism, because this abolition ostensibly took place in order not to upset the Muslim emigrant population (who aren't dominant at all and wouldn't have let this happen in the first place). You see, they call their God Allah, which is of an entirely different concept ... sounds a bit lame and construed, doesn't it? That is perhaps because it is and the whole issue was done under E.U. policy pressure. This would be vintage E.U., typical of its secretive modus operandi. When nobody happens to be watching, or those who should aren't alert enough, a major policy decision is taken en commission and suddenly implemented.

While the Iraq Study Group's Report was officially presented "to the American people", Europeans are treated like mere subjects, if as much! Which is why the E.U. will never be loved.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sign the petition for Sallah Choudhury today!

Today I found in my mailbox a newsletter from the American Jewish Committee, relaying an op-ed by it's executive director, David A. Harris in the Special to The Jewish Week Magazine, needing urgent attention. He explains as follows:

"We are taught in the Talmud that "whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world." Today a life is at risk in a Bangladeshi court. The man's name is Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. He is a journalist and editor of Blitz, an English-language weekly newspaper. He is on trial for sedition, punishable by death in Bangladesh.
His alleged "crime"? In the words of the presiding judge: "By praising the Jews and Christians, by attempting to travel to Israel, and by predicting the so-called
rise of Islamist militancy in the country and expressing such through writings inside the country and abroad, you have tried to damage the image and relations of Bangladesh with the outside world."
In other words, Mr. Choudhury believes in interfaith dialogue and respect, normalized ties between Bangladesh and Israel, and opposition to Islamic radicalism. Those views could cost him his life. His difficulties began in 2003 when he became interested in Israel and initiated correspondence with a Jerusalem Post editor. That led to an article he wrote for the paper advocating the establishment of peaceful relations between his country and Israel. The piece caught the attention of an Israeli scholar, who invited him to give a lecture in Israel at the International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace. He accepted, but never made it.
As Mr. Choudhury was about to board a plane in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, for the long, circuitous journey, he was arrested and his passport was confiscated. He was accused of espionage and charged with sedition. He spent the next 17 months in hellish prison conditions, including torture, denial of medical attention and isolation. He was released in April 2005, largely because of the determined efforts of two individuals—Dr. Richard Benkin, a Jewish community activist from Chicago, and Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk. But that release was followed by more harassment, threats on his life, attacks on his newspaper's offices, and the looming trial. When the American Jewish Committee sought to present Mr. Choudhury with its Moral Courage Award in May 2006, Bangladeshi authorities once again prevented him from leaving the country. Instead, he spoke movingly via video hook-up, while Dr. Benkin came to Washington to accept the AJC tribute on behalf of a man he refers to as his brother.
The trial has now begun. The judge in the case is widely known for his link to Islamic radicals. The chances of Mr. Choudhury receiving a fair hearing are slim. Remarkably, throughout this three-year ordeal, Mr. Choudhury has stood unbowed and unbent. He has faced his accusers with remarkable courage, stoicism and equanimity.
As outside lifelines, Dr. Benkin and Rep. Kirk have remained tenacious, constantly reminding the Bangladeshi government that this case is being monitored carefully and urging others to join with them in defense of Mr. Choudhury.
The State Department, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, PEN USA, some individual Members of Congress and a few newspapers have spoken out.
Most recently, Rep. Kirk, a Republican, and Rep. Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, introduced a resolution calling on the Bangladeshi government to drop all pending charges against Mr. Choudhury, return his confiscated possessions, stop "harassment and intimidation," and hold "accountable those responsible for attacks against" him. (To urge Members of Congress to support this initiative, visit AJC.)
In a world where radical Islam is on the march, threatening moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike, outspoken and fearless individuals like Mr. Choudhury deserve our full support. It is they, after all, who are on the front lines. The goal should be to send an unmistakable signal to the Bangladeshi government, a recipient of U.S. (Ed. and European) aid, that the case is being watched and its outcome could affect bilateral ties. Other countries committed to freedom of speech, human dignity and mutual respect should also be heard from—and their diplomats seen in the Bangladeshi courtroom to demonstrate tangible concern. To date, regrettably, too few have been either heard or seen.
At the risk of stating the obvious, this is by no means an exclusively American or Jewish issue; rather, it is a matter of fundamental human rights. The history of the human rights struggle, whether behind the Iron Curtain or in South Africa during the apartheid era, underscores the need to focus the spotlight on offending nations, depict the plight of individuals, and urge democratic countries to include human rights concerns high on their agenda when dealing with the offending nations. For those concerned about the outcome of the titanic clash in the Muslim world between radicals and moderates, and who wish the latter to know they do not stand alone in their valiant struggle, Mr. Choudhury's case demands our attention—and now."

I think we should take good notice of the above, which has remained largely out of the attention of the news outlets. Don't wait, sign the petition today. I think it is a shame that to date only some 3310 signatures have been submitted, world wide!

Related links:
Sign the petition today

Daniel Pearl Organization
Middle East Weblog

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The State of Malcontent VII

But consider what life is to the average relativist. Nothing but a cosmic accident, a coincidence. After the big bang (which they accept only very reluctantly, as contrary to Darwinism, leaves room for God), you first get through the evolutionary stages of cosmic soup, then dinos, giant squid and pterodactyls, topped up with a comet crash as grant finale. After which the mammals get their turn on the cosmic stage. So far, so good. By that time it's not long before we encounter apes, naked apes, Charles Darwin and other champs of relativism. Once in existence we eat, sleep, copulate and multiply, thereafter die, never to be heard of ever more.

How's that for breeding the ultimate cynic! It is a purposeless world, a void empty of vistas and morals* they have us subscribe to. Thus made, not created, we can dispense with God, "whom we have invented because we cannot accept the inevitable". Besides, we can do much better ourselves without the moral authority watching our every step from above. So we pass through the motions of life. And how to pass the time? Well, you live life to the fullest; you get it all and you get it now, before it is all over. Never mind eventual consequences and the harm you may cause to yourself and others in the process.

This nihilist world view is also detrimental to the value of human life. There is nothing in which man differs from the animal kingdom. He's part and parcel of it, being a glorified, naked ape himself. The good news is that this view has resulted in the upgrading of animals. Humans on the other hand are increasingly dispensable, if not downright harmful, as some biologists suggest. If you ask me, they are the biggest instigators of "Down With Us", but I could be mistaking. Anyway, they opine that babies are the biggest polluters imaginable, and their advice to the world at large is, do suicide if you want to help the environment; if that's too drastic just dispense with air travel and motoring, and make up for your sins by remaining childless! Since in Europe we are already under-performing in that department, this is very bad advice indeed. But for those offspring that get through the net, their raising can be limited to the teaching of a few survival skills and acquiring the ability to get the most material stuff the fastest possible.

Anything that is technically possible is being done without further ado, as science and medical practices are moving out of the public domain, as some people would have it. With the passing of time we are also getting healthier and richer, without having to overcome the natural setbacks that were part and parcel of life to the generations before us. Thus fitted out we don't learn to deal with frustrations and to accept that we're not all made the same (no, we're not!). That doesn't mean the value of a person less endowed is dimished, he's just different. Egalite is a legal term, dignity is a moral one. Spiritual guidance is optional and only for the few. What's weak must give way to the strong and cannot expect to be protected. That's also Darwinism, in a social sense.

We moan and groan about everything, lose our sense of humor and respect for life and other people, because in the end there's nothing but emptiness. It begs the ironic conclusion that we've never been this poor and sick before, albeit in an immaterial sense! Can you blame the Dutch and the other Eurolanders for committing cultural suicide, the slow way? Still, one more generation or so should do the trick!
The End (of the series).

* This statement may anger some liberals, but while we're on the subject - they should specify at long last where exactly it is that their moral code is laid down. Dedicated posting to follow.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The State of Malcontent VI

Relativism and nihilism, like visitors of brothels, come in suede shoes with crepe soles. You don't know it's coming until it's in all capillaries of the system. It has also resulted in run-away secularism, emptying most churches and the institutions that rely on them.

For most people atheism is ultimately not satisfactory, as they feel vaguely, that somewhere, there must be something of a First Cause, somehow (in Holland this goes by the name of Ietsisme (see elsewhere in this blog)). So they think up their own individual belief system, picking and choosing from a warehouse of the existing religions and faiths, whatever suits them (this form of spiritual plagiarism is also known as New Age). The devil and his mates don't suit them, so he's out. The same goes for God, too male and too authoritative; so unless he grows a few sizes smaller and gender bends, he's scrapped too. Angels are okay, but they must be of the safe sort, those little rosy buttocked cherubs with wind instruments and lyres; not the towering vengeful types as the archangel Gabriel with his fiery sword! As no God is involved in Buddhism this might have been a particularly attractive lifestyle option, were it not for the demands it exerts on mind and body: no, too much trouble and not quite instant enough. And so a hotchpotch is created of whatever offers the least resistance and promises something undetermined beyond the realm of pain or pleasure.

All this virtual living, secure under nanny's cheese-dome, also isn't satisfactory in the long run in other respects. It lacks challenges and risks. When the last government put in place a much needed austerity package, this resulted in a sheer endless litany of complaints against the inequities of poverty, which was now rife in our poor country, against the terrible school system (they have a point, but the wrong diagnosis) and the lousy medical services (which suffer the most under the mental bankruptcy). The proposed remedies were respectively more welfare money, a bigger educational budget and higher medical spending. Hardly credible in a country which transcends all levels of material affluence.

And then there was the totally debilitating discussion under the term "norms and values", a pet project of the Prime Minister, Jan-Peter Balkenende (JPB). All the wrong policies, culture clashes and social/sexual revolutions over the past forty years combined, have resulted in behavior of mindless vandalism and the basic lack of respect for others and their property (here Muslims have a valid point). Added to that the lack of simple civility and lately what are termed acts of "useless violence" (Ed. random violence), sometimes soccer or binge-drink related, usually both. But good manners and propriety were just deliberately done away with, together with moralizing, vicars and pulpits, as deemed too bourgeois or to too calvinist for words! The Prime Minister's analysis and definition of the concept don't go much further than superficial small-talk and doesn't go beyond the level of primary school (somebody in the public information business once concluded that the eduction level of the average Dutch is elemental school plus a few years lower secondary and since that time that is how we are spoken to). Basis glasses and hairdo JPB may be referred to as a political Harry Potter, but he's certainly no great intellectual, let alone a spiritual leader. But some magic skills he cannot be denied, as he has managed to transform the subject into a discussion about the integration of emigrants, which is of another essence altogether!

Asked the other day about his relationship with God, the Premier could, like his counterpart Tony Blair across the pond - despite his calvinist background and christian-democrat roots - only mutter: "I don't do God (with the press, it's something between us"). I bet you get the same answer in each and every European capital. It is the result of P.C.-ness, in full accordance with the Brussels' line of Best Practice: keep God out of the public discourse lest the Muslims assert more demands! This comes under the guise of separation of Church and State, secularism or laity (or laicite), depending on the country. Thus the public discourse remains limited to the area of politics and the solutions therefore material in kind, while the actual sources of discontent are of a spiritual, cultural and intellectual nature, an area untouched, ignored and confined to the private realm.

The politicians stand staring into this gaping, unfillable hole, still discussing budgets and spending. That is, once they have determined if their image can sustain the wearing of a neck-tie or not. They are egged on by the population that is as discontent as ever, despite the evenly distributed riches and privileges.
Once there used to be a top layer of intellectuals: writers, thinkers, scientists. Those that remain are Leftist and followers of Liberalism (not necessarily identical in the Dutch context) and in full agreement with everybody else. The others, wherever they are, are inaudible.

After these instalments we can safely conclude that the Restoration is a long way off. We haven't even begun to be aware of the problem, let alone define and analyse it. In the present state of malcontent the leading role is for Messrs Denial and Clueless.
To be continued.

Monday, December 04, 2006

About staying power, gas and other sources of energy

Before we proceed with the next tiresome instalment of the State of Malcontent (will it never end?) a few intriguing articles out of today's current affairs vacuum:

- On 1st November Heather Robinson wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal all Americans can take to heart. "My Country Needs Me. Iraqi democrats haven't given up the fight. How can we?" chronicles the trepidations of Mr Al-Alusi, founder of the now 15,000 members strong Iraqi Nation Party. I'd would like to add the following remarks:

First, now that diplomatic efforts are exerted to get Syria and Iran involved in normalizing the situation in Iraq, one wonders how these countries can possibly have that ability, given that neither has a hand in the pernicious "resistance"?
Secondly, since the Democratic Party in the U.S. has won the last elections on a leave-Iraq ticket and public opinion has shifted against the war, it is only to be expected that the U.S. Army will be withdrawn as soon as it is practically possible. In such case my sad advise to the American nation would be, not to entertain in the foreseeable future any thought of a military intervention again, since you have proved the terrorists right when they said that it would only be a matter of time before the Americans left (see Vietnam), as they just don't have the staying power to stick it out.

There's more of this sort. John Allen excelled again this weekend in an article "Benedict and religious freedom in Turkey" . It lists all Benedict's references to religious freedom made during the trip, which is very practical. It also mentions a few other remarkable facts: 1. that Turkish ID cards specify one's religious persuasion (wait till the boys in Brussels hear about this!), and 2. that "the (present) Turkish constitution recognizes every citizen's right to freedom of worship and freedom of conscience". As is made evident by Pope Benedict's six different remarks on this matter, the daily reality is at best one of (bureaucratic) harassment. One of the more important arguments in favour of Turkish accession to the E.U. is the guarantee it offers of freedom of religion. Since present Constitution isn't able to change the facts on the ground, who is to say that E.U. accession requirements will. I'd hate to spoil the party, but aren't we kidding ourselves here just a little?

This piece shows how my suspicion of the delicate profile of the heroic Mesrob II was regrettably justified.

With all the attention focused elsewhere it must be noted that the developments in Moscow are not of the heartening kind. While we are high-fiving for having won the Cold War, now that the adrenaline has worn off, we are in danger of losing the battle over Energy. Read Richard Rahn's "Russian Bear sets a trap" to see how gullible we are! And me thinking bears get trapped, instead of setting them...

While on the subject of the Russian Bear, The Daily Star of Beirut tells how Moscow is coming to the aide of the Ayatollahs' nuclear program. In passing it states something noteworthy:

"Echoing Russia's concerns, U.N. atomic watchdog chief Al-Baradei on Sunday warned against the diplomatic isolation of North Korea and Iran, saying confrontation would only lead them to accelerate their nuclear programs".
Be that as it may (or not), but is Mr Al-Baradei here not overstepping the mark, just like his colleague at the U.N., Kofi Annan is prone to do? I'm not sure of Mr Al-Baradei's status, but if he's a simple civil servant acting as chairman (like Mr Annan) shouldn't he refrain from making political statements? Educated comments invited. What to think of the man's naivete when he states that "...We need to ... change the hearts and minds in Iran ..."! I ask you: hearts and minds in Iran?! To touch the heart you need to be able to look somebody in the eyes. Ever tried to see Ahmadinejad in the eyes? Good luck to you!

For bed-side literature, try this one .