April 3, 2011
The above video gives me hope for the future of Islamic nations. The uprisings sparked in Tunisia have spread like wildfire through nations repressed by religion, censorship, and income inequality. Some have been successful, while others haven’t, and the deciding factor seems to be one of courage in numbers.
In places like Tunisia and Egypt, the people came out in such numbers that there was no way for the government to win. At best, they could slaughter their own workforce in order to maintain control of their compound. In China, the internet surveillance was on high alert, and the police response was swift, dragging people out of their homes in the dead of night. Had four protesters come up for every one they took away, China would be the only thing in our news right now.
People like Veena Malik are very important. By coming out on national television and saying several things that would likely get her swiftly killed if she said them in the streets, she has given the church and the government an impossible dilemma. If they kill her, she becomes a martyr for her cause. If they don’t, she gives courage to all of those who were previously afraid to speak out to follow her example.
June 29, 2009
Obama seems to be testing out what I imagine will become another great speech soon. In today’s speech he set the stage for the destruction of the DADT policy, saying, “I’ve called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination“, and “I’m also urging Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, which will guarantee the full range of benefits, including healthcare, to LGBT couples and their children.”, and finally, “I want to say a word about “don’t ask, don’t tell.” As I said before — I’ll say it again, I believe “don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t contribute to our national security. In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security. Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we’ll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.“
I think of DADT as good manners, but lousy policy. One’s sexual orientation is not relevant to the job at hand; it’s a distraction. Making an issue of it while on duty should be punishable by reprimand rather than discharge. I feel the same way about religion.
On a separate note, women will never have equal rights in this country until they have equal responsibilities. This includes registering for the draft. The government either needs to do away with it or apply it without discrimination.
June 21, 2009
Encyclopedias define religious discrimination as ‘valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe.‘ That seems like a pretty fair and broad definition, but I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding out there as to what this means.
Most claims of religious discrimination are claims of violation of the first amendment statement that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. I think the first thing that is important to understand here is that the government doesn’t give us our rights, it just hasn’t managed to take all of them away yet. The Constitution isn’t a document granting us rights, it’s a document restricting the actions of government. The thing to note here is that it isn’t the job of Congress to prevent discrimination, but rather to not cause it.
Claims of religious discrimination range from legitimate to ridiculous, and resolving them is difficult in the sense that the ones seemingly being wronged are often the ones asking for the discrimination. Some examples that are already happening:
An Orthodox Jewish couple in Bournemouth have issued a county court writ claiming religious discrimination. Why? This couple contends that they are being held hostage on Shabbat because walking out their door triggers their neighbor’s motion light, and thus their prohibition of ‘making fire’, one of many things they aren’t allowed to do on the Sabbath. Lets say Jehovah’s Witnesses were afraid of motion lights too. Would putting outdoor motion lighting on your front door be a hate crime? This highlights the problem of the government getting involved in private affairs. What happens when one religion requires motion lights on their door while another forbids it? There is no way to please everyone.
What I find disturbing about this kind of case is that looking at the above definition for religious discrimination, it is the couple who is doing the discriminating by demanding special treatment because of their beliefs. No one else can sue their neighbors for having motion lighting unless they also subscribe to this belief.
Another example is that of the burkha. A girl in Florida tried to get her drivers license photo taken with her burkha on. Obviously the state shot this down. The same goes for being identified before boarding airplanes. It is an interesting dilemma because, while it is the burkha wearers who want the special treatment, denying it is essentially preventing Islamic women from travelling. I would also note that if you are an identical twin, they don’t force you to come up with additional identification to prove you aren’t your sibling. An airline could hire a woman to take the burkha wearers into a private room for identification, but if the airline were small enough to only have one ID checker, then they would be forced to be discriminatory in their hiring practices by only hiring a woman. It is the FAA that requires such checks, so it is a government matter, just as it would be if they were carded at a liquor store. The ACLU thinks it is disallowed because of religious discrimination caused by 9-11, rather than the obvious security reasons of identifying passengers. I’d challenge them to try to go buy some liquor one night wearing a ski mask and see how far they get.
The intent of the constitution as it relates to religious discrimination should be interpreted as a sort of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Those in government should not commit religious acts while on the job, or add them or their terminology into policy, and the government shouldn’t take religion into account when making decisions. Where the lines of discrimination law should be drawn for businesses and individuals, I admit I don’t know. Anyone have any opinions?
May 19, 2009
In Pat’s latest column he looks at the various options available to Israel to adjust for their mounting demographic issues. I’m sure there are unforeseen events that will affect the outcome, but I can’t fault his logic here. Israel’s actions are those of a desperate nation seeking escape from an untenable situation.
An excerpt outlining the three main options for going forward:
“The first is annexation of the West Bank. But this would bring 2.4 million Palestinians into Israel, giving her a population 40 percent Arab. With a higher birth rate, Palestinians would soon outnumber Jews and vote to abolish the Jewish state, thus creating a bi-national state. That would mean the end of the Zionist dream.
The second option is the Meir Kahane solution. The late rabbi urged the expulsion of the Palestinians from the occupied territories. But the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands or millions of Palestinians would mean innumerable casualties, a severing of all ties to the Arab world, the moral isolation of Israel and a break with the United States. America could not stand by and let such a human rights atrocity take place.
The third option is the Netanyahu option: no annexation, no ethnic cleaning, no Palestinian state — but permanent control of the West Bank to assure the “Hamastan” in Gaza is never replicated on the West Bank.” -Pat Buchanan
That third option looks pretty good on the surface, which means it is politically nearly guaranteed. Unfortunately it leaves Palestine as a giant concentration camp in permanent apartheid and war.
It really bothers me when religions attempt to simply out-breed their enemies. If they are the source of conflict, the last thing we need is more of them. If I lean towards the Palestinians in this conflict, it isn’t because they are right, but because they are oppressed.
May 3, 2009
A doomish title if ever I’ve penned one. As seen in the video below, a recent poll has shown a strong link between churchgoing and the approval of torture.
While this comes as no surprise to those of us who have been paying attention, I think it deserve some further scrutiny. The obvious conclusion would be that religion causes a desire to torture, but I think that may be backwards. Another recent study showed the religious as being far more likely to seek extreme life prolonging measures when deathly ill. What does all this have in common? A fear of the unknown extreme enough to lead people to oppose the values they claim to have, just to scrabble at a scrap of hope. It is religion that is an irrational safety blanket for some very rational fears, that provides the self righteousness and justification for the commission of atrocities that were already desired by those susceptible to it’s pull of absolution. It is the dichotomy of hope and fear that got both Bush and Obama elected by the same electorate. While hope and fear are polar opposites, they are two sides of the same coin.
It is as if the whole country is in a Kübler-Ross model of the stages of grief.
- Denial: This is where we were between WWII and the Bush years. We were the greatest country on earth. It was our birthright, not just a side effect of being the last manufacturing power standing after the war due to the distance of our homes from the front lines.
- Anger: We clearly transition from denial to anger early in the Bush years. We believe all of our problems are external in nature, that it isn’t our fault. The Axis of Evil is the source of our pain. Wars ensue on multiple fronts.
- Bargaining: Hope. Perhaps if we elect a Democrat, they will fix everything. We will give the banks whatever they want, bail out the manufacturing industry, borrow money, whatever it takes. The final days of Bush and the first 100 days of Obama.
- Depression: This is where we are now. consumer confidence is low, the parties are fragmented, the future unclear.
- Acceptance: This is where we are going. We need to accept that our problems are fundamental and widespread, that the middle east won’t have peace, China isn’t going away, and the Dollar isn’t intrinsically strong. Our economy isn’t in a downturn, it has seen a correction, and we aren’t going back to the golden age of the 1950′s any time soon. It is time to pick up the pieces, make some hard choices, and begin to move forward.
We are a government of the people, by the people. It hasn’t led us here, we have led it here. We can take it back, but we can’t do it without a majority. Our next president should be a Ron Paul.