Mailvox: snapping at the heels

AP loses her bet:

Your sarcastic wit is truly precious. You have quite the knack for pointing out all the problems we dimwitted conservatives have, but rarely do you ever tell us just what the hell it is exactly YOU personally believe?? What political & spiritual articles of faith do you subscribe to? I bet they are fluid. I would also be willing to wager that you are secretly enamored with the Left and that the Right, Christians in particular, embarrass you.

Yes, I’m a massive fan of expanding entitlement programs, a Wilsonian foreign policy and increasing the power of central government. Oh, wait, that’s our “conservative” president! There are Christians who embarrass me; they do so because I am one of them. I am only enamored of the many occasions for amusement which the Left regularly provides me. Apparently, AP has concluded that the CHRISTIAN LIBERTARIAN bit in my column bio and at the top of this blog is some sort of secret Gramscian code giving out props to my Che-shirt wearing peeps. Word ’em up, boyeez. Red West!

SS has read the Beatitudes:

Don’t forget to add a healthy dose of condescending sarcasm to your arguments. It creates in your opponents a healthy respect and fear for whatever ‘intellectual status’ plateau you’ve elevated yourself to in your internal life. I’m pretty sure this was the very tactic Jesus used in his sermon on the mount to quell the cries of the unwashed rabble gathered at his feet. Or was it enumerated in the body of the beatitudes? I always forget… It must be in there somewhere though. I read a lot of ‘Christian’ writers that seem to use it every chance they get. Apparently that whole ‘love your enemies’ thing was just for the marks.

Why do people think that the only thing Jesus ever said was “love your enemies”. Anyhow, while I may occasionally be mildly sarcastic and perhaps just a tad condescending, that is not exactly tantamount to hatred. Consider, for example, a missive addressed recently to two of my good friends:

Will anyone win? In this week’s battle of the cellar dwellars, much speculation centers around the unlikelihood that either the fraudulent Ferrets or the collapsing Cocktails will be able to win. Scientists at the CERN research center in Geneva, Switzerland, have demanded that the game be called off, expressing their opinion that the contest bears disturbing logical similarities to the destructive collision of matter and anti-matter.

“Zee entire globe could be evaporated!” worried Dr. Jean-Pierre Francois, CERN’s resident expert on exogravitational logistics. “Surely zee Amis, zey cannot permit zis game to play!”

When reached for comment, the league commissioner stated that he wasn’t concerned about what a bunch of frightened frogs thought. After being informed Dr. Francois is actually Swiss, the commissioner added: “If his name is Jean-Poof and he speaks frog, then he’s a damned frog, all right? Now, tell him to go surrender to someone; here in The Most Prestigious League In Sports(tm), we’ve got a scoreless ballgame to play!”

Anyhow, I suppose it is possible that “whitewashed tomb” and “son of vipers” is synonymous with “beloved brother” and “dear friend” in the original Hebrew, but color me skeptical.

A review of right-wing blogs

This is an interesting take on some of the more popular right-leaning blogs. I’d considering doing my own, except I don’t read enough of them to be able to put together a comprehensive list. The comments are also entertaining.

(4) Little Green Footballs—Remember that government report that said the “War on Terror” should really be called something like the “War on Islamist Jihadism”? LGF got the memo. All Anti-Islamism, all the time.

(5) Hugh Hewitt— If you were to combine all three Powerline bloggers, Sean Hannity and any given Republican Party Chairman in some sort of GOP experiment to create the most reliable Republican pundit ever…you’d have Hugh Hewitt: the distilled essence of The Party Man.

(6) The Volokh Conspiracy—you know how you and your friends used to get into wandering, but interesting, all-night conversations about every subject imaginable—school, politics, jokes, sports, news, girls, philosophy, etc—in your younger days? Replace your old friends with a bunch of libertarian-leaning college professors. It’s the Volokh Conspiracy!

Mailvox: argument by exegesis

JB somehow manages to avoid quoting Psalms:

In your “How to argue like a conservative” column you ridicule people who use the Bible as a basis for the authority of their argument. You obviously haven’t haven’t thought out the logical conseuqences of this position.

The issue of God’s authority to determine right and wrong in our society is the very heart of the issue. If we cannot get our society back to the place where we have the objective standard of Scripture as the moral basis for our nation, we are nothing but pragmatists just like the liberals.

If there is no God to set and enforce some kind of objective standard about “right” and “wrong” and “good” and “evil”, then EVERYTHING boils down to mere personal opinion and preference – even your conservative/libertarian opinions. Cruelty is just as valid as kindness. Hitler and Mother Theresa are moral equivalents. A chaotic, brutish society is not inherently worse than a stable, tolerant one. Pleasure is not necessarily better than suffering. Selfishness is no more wrong than generosity. Without God to establish “justice, a person has no reason to howl if someone screws him over, except that he doesn’t like it because it makes his life difficult or painful. The oppression and exploitation of the weak by the strong is not inherently wrong – it’s just the way things happen. With no God, there isn’t even any reason why “advanced”, sentient beings like man ought to survive as a species. The eco-freaks are right that it’s no big deal if man destroys himself and leaves the planet to the trees and cockroaches. But, it’s also irrelevant if he totally trashes the environment. If there is no God who has communicated in scripture, it doesn’t make any difference (except to that person) if life here on earth is pleasurable or painful. It’s all meaningless. No one is ever going to punish evil, reward good, or make things right. What is, is. Deal with it.

These are the logical consequences of a godless, scriptureless universe – a Darwinian dogfight to determine whose personal opinions will dominate the lives of other people. Conservatives and libertarians operating on human reason without the authority of scripture to back them up are just as screwed up and dangerous as the liberals.

Pragmatism, basing right and wrong on what appears to “work” can be a very ugly thing. And basically a pragmatist is all you are without scripture to validate your assertions.

JB is failing to distinguish between understanding the font of your political philosophy and knowing when is – and when is not – the appropriate time to draw from it. Forse devo fare un’analogia. Se parlo italiano e sto litigando contra un’altro si non parle italiano, e’ possibile per me a effettivamente convincerlui di qualcosa quando si non puo capire niente che stavo dicendo?

Did you find that compelling? Are you convinced? Or are you just rolling your eyes and wondering what the meaningless babble was all about?

Or perhaps a different analogy might be more appropriate. Suppose that I am basing my case for the 1939 Japanese invasion of Hawaii on the memoirs of High Admiral Todoshi Fukuyama. Then suppose that you are a historian specializing in 20th century Japanese military history, you have never heard of High Admiral Fukuyama or his memoirs and you are pretty sure that the man never existed. How much credence are you going to give my case, and how seriously are you going to regard me in the future?

Because, you see, this is exactly how non-Christians regard Christians arguing from the Bible. And this is why it is stupid and futile for Christians to regard Biblical quotes as being meaningful when they are arguing with non-Christians.

CHRISTIAN: “The Bible says X!”
AGNOSTIC: “I don’t believe the Bible.”
CHRISTIAN: “But it says X right here! What don’t you understand about that?”
AGNOSTIC: “What part of ‘I don’t believe’ don’t you understand?”

What’s particularly insane about this concept of Bible-based argumentation is that the Bible itself expressly states that it cannot and will not be understood by the wisdom of the world, that it requires the foolishness of one guided by the Holy Spirit to even begin to make proper sense of God’s Word, even though our understanding will remain incomplete.

Don’t worry about the French

From WND:

But Dalil Boubakeur, the head of the French Muslim Council and leader of the largest mosque in Paris, seemed to blame the government for the continuing violence. “What I want from the authorities, from Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, the prime minister and senior officials, are words of peace,” he said.

Sarkozy has been widely criticized for his “warlike” language in which he referred to rioters as “scum” and vowed to “clean up” the suburbs. Neighboring Germany, also with a large Muslim immigrant population, mostly of Turkish origin, was watching the horror unfold in France with alarm. Wolfgang Bosbach, the deputy leader of the conservative Christian Democrats in the German parliament, told a Sunday newspaper: “There are differences between the situation in France and here, but we should not be under the illusion that similar events could not happen in Germany.”

In Italy, Romano Prodi, the opposition leader, called on the government to take urgent action, telling reporters: “We have the worst suburbs in Europe. I don’t think things are so different from Paris. It’s only a question of time.”

Denmark has also been hit with what is being characterized as its own “Islamic Intifada.” In Arhus, Denmark, young Muslims were heard chanting, “This land belongs to us!” A masked spokesman for the rioters told Danish reporters that Muslims were tired of being oppressed and harassed and warned the police to stay away.

People like to joke about the French tendency to surrender, but when one considers that this is also the nation which brought forth the Reign of Terror and Napoleon, and has a police force which is quite willing to exterminate Muslim protesters, the inevitable crackdown is only a question of when. Many are also unaware that France has already fought and lost one war with Islam in the last fifty years; the loss of French Algeria has not been forgotten and many of the current rioters/intifadists are descended from the 100,000 harkis, Algerian Muslims who fought for France and were forced to leave Algeria when De Gaulle granted Algeria the right of self-determination and the Algerians voted for independence.

I believe this is, in part, why the French are reluctant to smash the ghettos. Due to their historical ties to Northern Africa, the French are much more comfortable with Islam than are Americans, the British or Germans and there is a genuine feeling of guilt for the 150,000 harkis who did not flee Algeria and subsequently perished, as well as a sense of a debt to the descendants of those who came to France and survived. That being said, the French are famously ungrateful and will always pursue their own interests in the end.

At this point in time, the French authorities have not considered the riots to be much more than an upturn in the sort of violent which happens from time to time, on the order of 1961 and 1996. And they may yet be proven correct, as not a single Frenchman has been slain, compared to 11 policemen killed in 1961 and 12 dead in 1996. But should it become clear that the present situation is more serious and a more correct analogy is that of the Algerian War of Independence, I have no doubt that the French will shock the world in the extreme violence of its response to the situation.

I am not French, I do not speak French and I have no loyalty to France. Therefore, I see little point in expressing a largely ignorant opinion as to what France should do in this situation. I do think it is tragic, however, that the French government’s determination to cling to its absurd multiculturalism will likely lead to unnecessary bloodshed. History tends to indicate that there are two ways of dealing with an intractable minority incapable of assimilation. Boot them out sooner, or kill them later.