Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The "Tsesis thesis" deconstructed

One of the blogs I follow is Blazing Cat Fur, which does a great job of sleuthing stuff pertaining to the freedom of speech brouhaha going on in our northern neighbor, ignited by various Islamic groups' complaints to the Canadian federal, and various provincial, Human Rights Commissions.

A recent find was this article by Anuj C. Desai, which does a superb job of exposing the flawed reasoning of Alexander Tsesis, author of Destructive Messages: How Hate Speech Paves the Way for Harmful Social Movements, in advocating for hate speech legislation. So why should we care about an obscure book by an unknown law professor? Because Mr. Tsesis's work provides the underpinnings for legislative proposals by Ted Kennedy to criminalize "hate speech" right here in the U. S. of A. Ted is, of course, a supporter of one of Mr. Tsesis's fellow Chicagoans, one Barack Obama.

In other words, as Mr. Desai astutely pointed out, Tsesis's thesis is "... one that Americans will increasingly have to grapple with ..."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hey, I like lattés too

Somehow or other liberalism (or liberal elitism, anyway) and lattés have become inextricably connected. Every critique of Obama nowadays is required to mention latté-sipping (and, increasingly, arugula, whatever that is).

I try not to be a snob, but darn it, I really like lattés! A venti honey latté, with whip, at 140° Fahrenheit, to be precise.

A Succinct Summation

This excerpt from an interview with author Howard Rotberg on FrontPage Magazine gives the history of the last 14 years of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in a nutshell:

My somewhat bizarre story started during the after-effects of the Oslo Process in the Middle East. Many observers with some sympathy to Israel's predicament as the only non-Muslim, liberal democracy in a sea of extremism, totalitarianism and backwardness, began to notice a sad fact. Israel's concessions to Yasser Arafat and his "Palestinian Authority", in terms of vesting a graduated sovereignty and even weapons to be used by its security apparatus, did not bring peace, but seemed to embolden the Palestinians, including militias reporting to Arafat, into ever more warlike and self-destructive behaviours, evidencing a fundamental rejection of a two-state solution. With uncritical and unconditional support from the United Nations, major NGOs, self-described "progressives" and "intellectuals", the Palestinians turned to a policy of encouraging their young people to become suicide bombers, with incitement through the controlled media and education system, to perfect a long-term policy to drive out what they saw as a Jewish "cancer" within lands believed to be wholly and rightfully Muslim.

I was concerned that terrorism, primarily, but not limited to, suicide bombings was having a very successful effect, one I would later conceptualize as a "Cultural Stockholm Syndrome". Rather than having the Western World recoil in horror at such barbarian behaviour, the suicide bombers were in fact increasing the support for the so-called "plight" of the Palestinians, in particular in the United Nations and on university campuses throughout the West.

At the same time, the West began to adopt a moral and cultural relativism, which meant we were encouraged (aided by the Critical Theorists in the universities) to critique every aspect of our own societies, but any critiques of other societies or cultures were damned as constituting "racism". The very concept of "racism" was re-defined so that it could only apply in the case of words or actions by more powerful groups against less powerful groups. The rise of "political correctness" meant that reasoned discourse was difficult in the face of a subversion of language and a "closing of the American mind". Any discourse on Israel was met with discussion-ending use of improper terms such as "cycle of violence", "occupation", "apartheid", and "peace process" (which of course was anything but).

To make matters worse, I began to note a serious failure to educate our young people about the nature of ideology as a series of viewpoints, values, and assumptions through which every society at every time must necessarily view the world. The Politically Correct, over-represented in the teaching profession, were taking the absurd position that they alone, being beacons of tolerance and pacifism, were ideologically neutral and free of ideology, and that only the Right Wing, Bush, the evangelicals, and supporters of Israel were ideological in their militarism, lack of tolerance and racism. Alarmingly, even a large portion of educated American Jews were agreeing with that position.