As with any event of this nature, Ayaan Hirsi Ali should always be considered seriously. Key quote:
In Islam, it is a grave sin to visually depict or in any way slander the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are free to believe this, but why should such a prohibition be forced on nonbelievers? In the U.S., Mormons didn’t seek to impose the death penalty on those who wrote and produced “The Book of Mormon,” a satirical Broadway sendup of their faith. Islam, with 1,400 years of history and some 1.6 billion adherents, should be able to withstand a few cartoons by a French satirical magazine. But of course deadly responses to cartoons depicting Muhammad are nothing new in the age of jihad.
She has a book on the need for a Muslim reformation coming in April. It should be on everyone’s must read list.
Once again we are forced to confront the connection between religion and violence. The murder of several staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris is the latest example.
For those who feel the need to identify Je Suis Charlie, it would behoove us to understand just how brave the employees of this magazine were:
Not just print original satirical cartoons taking the piss out of Islamic-terrorist sensibilities, but do so six days after you were firebombed for taking the piss out of Islamic-terrorist sensibilities (pictured), and do so in such a way that’s genuinely funny (IMO) and even touching, with the message “Love is stronger than hate.”
Hebdo’s satire bit, and it bit without regard to political creed or religious faith. The magazine forces us to confront the proper limits of political satire in a civil society. But in liberal democracies, political opinion
The magazine First Things has an excellent piece today on the relationship between violence and terror. Here is the crux of the problem:
Contrary to repeated Muslim denials, key aspects of the ideology of radical violent Muslim groups are indeed rooted in Islamic texts and history. Al-Qaeda, IS, and Boko Haram have their origins mainly in Wahhabi and Salafi thought. These are traditions of fundamentalist Islamic interpretation that have widespread influence across the Muslim world. Founding leaders of jihadi groups have either been students of leading Wahhabi-Salafi scholars or were inspired by their works.
The faith is heavily legalistic, and those prescriptions by religious legal scholars centuries past, still govern the Faith to this day, albeit, perhaps in extremist fashion, which might shock tolerant people:
Wahhabi and Salafi thought in their modern expression derive from Islamic jurist-theologians Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328) and Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792). They are both renowned students and teachers of the Hanbali school of law. Salafi teaching upholds the first three generations of Muslim history (salaf) as sacrosanct alongside the prophetic example. Not all Salafis are Wahhabis. The latter brand any practice or teaching later than the third century of Islam (salaf) as satanic innovation (bida‘). Wahhabism is the most literalist and iconoclastic branch of Hanbalism, which itself is the most conservative of the four main schools. For instance, while other Muslims might urge abstention from alcohol, Wahhabis also prohibit stimulants, including tobacco. Not only is modest dress prescribed but also the type of clothing that should be worn, especially by women (a black abaya, covering all but the eyes and hands). Religious education includes training in the use of weapons. Wahhabism emphasizes the importance of avoiding non-Islamic cultural practices and non-Muslim fraternity on the grounds that the sunna and the central importance of Muhammad as exemplar forbid imitating non-Muslims. Wahhabi scholars have warned against taking non-Muslims as friends and against smiling at or even wishing them well on their holidays.
But does this mean that all are violent? No. Those who are jihadists are “taking the law in their own hands” and this the prophet forbids:
Nevertheless, it is equally misleading to argue that the jihadi groups represent the true face of Islam. While the legal and doctrinal edicts that the jihadists cite are integral parts of Islamic law, the jihadists without question violate that law by taking it into their own hands. Their failure to consider the conditions necessary for the declaration of jihad, as well as for its proper conduct, provides an obvious example. Questions of which groups can be targeted, and of how and toward what end, are enormously complicated and sharply qualified in the authoritative legal texts. For instance, all four Sunni schools of law, including the Hanbali school, agree that the declaration of jihad can be justified for the sake of preserving or extending the government of an Islamic state. Therefore, as is the case in Christian just-war theory, in which the power to declare war is carefully limited to governments, in Islamic law only legitimate Islamic governments can declare a jihad, not individuals or nonstate actors. An exception is made when a Muslim land comes under attack or occupation by an enemy force, which renders jihad or resistance an individual responsibility. But even then, jihad has to have been formally declared by the legitimate authority properly representing the people of the occupied nation. By declaring and conducting jihad on their own, al-Qaeda, IS, Boko Haram, and other such groups act as heretical usurpers.
There is much more to be considered in this regard as to just how far outside of Islamic Law terror groups are. Bill Maher has his take, of course:
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His is an opinion to be taken seriously. For IF it is true a majority believe in the punishments because of religion, then the author of First Things should make an addendum to his essay:
We need to strongly resist the view that Islam is the problem, that the Qur’an is the problem, that Muhammad is the problem. To denounce Islam as a death-loving religion—or the Qur’an and Muhammad as a constitution and example, respectively, for terrorists—provides excuses for twisted zealots. It reinforces their deluded belief that they and only they are the true Muslims. Moreover, it inspires fear and mistrust among the great majority of Muslims, who are not jihadists. If the Qur’an and Islam are the problems, what is the solution? Drop bombs on the Ka’bah in Mecca? Ban the use of the Qur’an?
I concur with that in part, but if any religion believes death should follow any private behavior, then there are problems with said religion, especially when natural rights are at stake.
Here comes Elizabeth Warren, who says that she is not—at the moment—running for president. However, rhetorically, she sure sounds like she’s trying to influence who is nominated. What if nobody she likes is nominated? Warren, who was featured in Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story when she was a professor at Harvard, is the consummate voice of the left (some would say the tea party left), and she more than anyone in the Democrat Party poses a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders has not the charisma nor the articulate appeal that Warren does, and he carries the identification of “socialist” around as a proud badge, and that’s immediate disqualification for a majority of the voters in the general.
Warren, however, has a populist appeal that could get her far into the primary, and she appeals to the Democratic base when she is not obligated to do so, particularly among those who believe Obama has betrayed them. As a result, Warren is garnering much attention:
Interviews with more than a dozen attendees, along with comments from panelists, suggest that Clinton — who many on the left view as too hawkish and soft on Wall Street — is still struggling to generate enthusiasm among progressives, even as she’s all but certain to announce a 2016 bid within a few months. The lack of excitement is especially palpable among younger liberals, the set that helped power Barack Obama to the Democratic nod over Clinton in 2008.
Warren keeps saying she is not (in the present) running. But that is true until she says she’s running (and for the record, Hillary is not running either at the moment). In other words, she has not ruled it out:
As NPR’s Steve Inskeep and many other observers have noticed, Warren always answers the presidential query in the present tense and assiduously avoids any deviation that might rule out a future bid.
Warren may not be “running for president” at the moment, but neither is anyone else, for that matter.
Far more relevant is the question that she has repeatedly chooses not to answer: Might she run for president, after the 2016 campaign official kicks off next year?
Can Warren win, as David Brooks recently opined in the affirmative in the NYT? He concludes:
Clinton is obviously tough, but she just can’t speak with a clear voice against Wall Street and Washington insiders. Warren’s wing shows increasing passion and strength, both in opposing certain Obama nominees and in last week’s budget fight.
The history of populist candidates is that they never actually get the nomination. The establishment wins. That’s still likely. But there is something in the air. The fundamental truth is that every structural and historical advantage favors Clinton, but every day more Democrats embrace the emotion and view defined by Warren.
Brooks is too optimistic for the moment, but there is a conceivable path to Warren winning with Clinton’s continued mis-steps and the base’s continued anger at Obama and the prior Clinton administration’s forays into the center.
Remember back in the day oh so long ago—as little as in 2013—when people were prophesying the death of conservatism? Indeed, if you click on one of those links, the tradition of predicting the death of the right goes back a long time to the early 90s.
Presently, we have an equal litany of pundits and thinkers predicting a liberal crackup. This is not new. Even in the 1980s, Bill Buckley on his excellent Firing Line considered the “liberal crackup” after Reagan’s landslide elections:
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Auguries of the death of this or that party have plagued us since the Founding. Sometimes, parties actually do collapse. However, most of the time predictions about a party’s demise are incorrect. After 2008, the Republicans were not collapsing, they were in the middle of an internal battle. The Tea Party sprung up to the right of center, and was the bane of of the party leading it to defeat after defeat electorally. Fast forward a few years to 2014, and the latest shellacking of the Democrats were not largely due to the Tea Party. The Tea Party was seen as too extreme, and it did not benefit the governing coalition on the Hill. Presently, leading Tea Party politician, Ted Cruz, is a man isolated. Being politically savvy is not the strong suit of the Tea Party to be sure.
In similar fashion, the Democrats are about ready to make the same mistake (although they are doing it willingly!), and it is here the Republicans can capitalize greatly. Since the feckless presidency of Barrack Obama, the left wing of the party has began to flex it’s muscle. Indeed, Obama was seen as the great left hope, but he has been a crushing disappointment. So much so, Hillary Clinton is too far to the right of many of the rank and file Democrats, and Jim Webb, among others, will likely challenge her from the left–though it is safe to say that Webb could be seen as a more reliable middle of the road candidate similar to Sec. Clinton. So, it’s no surprise that certain factions of the Democrat Party are calling for a Tea Party of the Left, and doing so willingly. The problem is that these small movements only appeal to a tiny portion of the base, but usually that’s enough to keep electable candidates with which they disagree from winning.
The more recent problems for the Democrats is that they are losing white voters; Republicans conversely are increasingly losing minorities. We are facing the reality that if trends continue, the two parties will be very racially split. This is not a good things for the country or our politics for it will become increasingly divisive. Republicans can stave off this racial division presently, as even the Democrats alienate the rest of their white blue collar coalition.
The Republicans are standing in the midst of a great opportunity, if they can only see it. They are poised to adopt an electoral and governing majority by instituting a version of fusionism. We should call it New Fusion–in honor of Frank Meyer who thought that an alliance between anti-communists, social and traditional conservatives, and libertarians (free marketers) could be created and turned into a winning electoral coalition, as well as a robust intellectual society. What should this candidate look like?
Mitt Romney was an awful candidate in many ways: he did not appeal to the voters because he appeared to lack empathy, he seemed to be a ruthless businessman (Bain Capital), and he did not appeal to the base (not conservative enough). Much of Romney’s depressing candidacy is noted in the excellent books After Hope and Change and Barrack Obama and the New America. Let’s stake out a few areas the Republicans have an opportunity to make inroads into the Democrat coalition nationally. These are by no means meant to be exhaustive.
I understand there will be much about this vignette open for debate. We could certainly add more to the list. But, it seems time for the Republicans to choose a New Fusion while the Democrats are taking time for their own small implosion.
Ryan is a rising star on the right, and he will be in charge of the budget on the House side for the next 2 years. Brooks is a columnist who is nominally center-right–but at times center-left. In this debate, Brooks was especially charming. But, it seems Brooks misunderstand Ryan on a fundamental point–the meaning of conservatism and small government. Let me put it this way: Ryan is not a libertarian and he is not a small government guy per se.
Brooks is an intellectual journalist who knows his political philosophy. He understands the ideas under-girding the ideological poles. Brooks represents a TR progressive style of Republican politics. Brooks likes progressivism and the governmental reach of progressive politics. He makes a pretty big false accusation on Jefferson–that he was an oligarch that did not favor the market. This is a false statement. It is certainly true that Jefferson was early in favor of an agrarian society, but the notion of natural rights meant he also did not believe that the rich (oligarchs) should be in control because they were rich. Jefferson believed that the new man could and should rise on their merit. Thomas West has written:
Even Jefferson was eventually reluctantly forced to admit that America could only defend itself by means of a modern industrialized economy. During the War of 1812 he wrote, “Our enemy has indeed the consolation of Satan on removing our first parents from Paradise: from a peaceable and agricultural nation, he makes us a military and manufacturing one. . . . [R]apid advances in the art of war will soon enable us to beat our enemy, and probably drive him from the continent.”
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. . . . Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility.
To allow a permanent right in intellectual property, i.e., to create a monopoly, would be to deny market entry to the poor. This would be a denial of the natural right to acquire.
The idealized farmer of Jefferson and Madison was more imaginary than real. Subsistence farming was never widespread in America. Almost everyone was dependent in some degree on the “caprice of customers.” Southerners often raised tobacco to sell in foreign markets. They typically relied not on their own labor but on that of slaves. (Incidentally, slavery was never advocated by Socrates, although it was widespread in the Greek world.) Hamilton pointed out in his Report that the separation of farming from manufacturing by the division of labor “has the effect of augmenting the productive powers of labour, and with them, the total mass of the produce or revenue of a Country.” The greater the division of labor, the more and the better will be produced for all.
Brooks’s history in this sense is odd. He may overstate his case to bolster his argument. The problem is that Brooks overstates, and hence, undermines, his argument. Brooks obviously likes the Great Society.
Ryan appears to me to be Hamiltonian in his speech–he is more concerned with what government can do well, and be energetic while doing that thing, than in mere subtraction of the government’s size for the sake of limiting its scope. Ryan wants the “proper” limitation of government, not mere limitation. Ryan is likely the most intellectually astute member of the House. Ryan’s argument, even if we reject it, is one worth considering and confronting.