Friday, November 24, 2006

More selective attention to the facts from the Left

In recent months a spate of atheist books have argued that religion represents, as The End of Faith author Sam Harris puts it "the most potent source of human conflict, past and present". Columnist Robert Kuttner gives the familiar litany: "The Crusades slaughtered millions in the name of Jesus. The Inquisition brought the torture and murder of millions more. After Martin Luther, Christians did bloody battle with other Christians for another three centuries." In his bestseller The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins contends that most of the world's recent conflicts - in the Middle East, in the Balkans, in Northern Ireland, in Kashmir and in Sri Lanka - show the vitality of religion's murderous impulse.

The problem with this critique is that it exaggerates the crimes attributed to religion while ignoring the greater crimes of secular fanaticism. The best example of religious persecution in America is the Salem witch trials. How many people were killed in those trials? Thousands? Hundreds? Actually, fewer than 25. Yet the event still haunts the liberal imagination. It is strange to witness the passion with which some secular figures rail against the misdeeds of the Crusaders and Inquisitors more than 500 years ago. The number sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition appears to be about 10,000. Some historians contend that an additional 100,000 died in jail due to malnutrition or illness. These figures are tragic, and of course population levels were much lower at the time. But even so, they are minuscule compared with the death tolls produced by the atheist despotisms of the 20th century.

In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million.

Moreover, many of the conflicts that are counted as "religious wars" were not fought over religion. They were mainly fought over rival claims to territory and power. Can the wars between England and France be called religious wars because the English were Protestants and the French were Catholics? Hardly. The same is true today. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not, at its core, a religious one. It arises out of a dispute over self-determination and land. Hamas and the extreme Orthodox parties in Israel may advance theological claims - "God gave us this land" and so forth - but the conflict would remain essentially the same even without these religious motives. Ethnic rivalry, not religion, is the source of the tension in Northern Ireland and the Balkans. Yet today's atheists insist on making religion the culprit.




An excerpt:

Six imams removed from a US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix are calling on Muslims to boycott the airline. If only we could get Muslims to boycott all airlines, we could dispense with airport security altogether.

Witnesses said the imams stood to do their evening prayers in the terminal before boarding, chanting "Allah, Allah, Allah" -- coincidentally, the last words heard by hundreds of airline passengers on 9/11 before they died. Witnesses also said that the imams were talking about Saddam Hussein, and denouncing America and the war in Iraq. About the only scary preflight ritual the imams didn't perform was the signing of last wills and testaments.

After boarding, the imams did not sit together and some asked for seat belt extensions, although none were morbidly obese. Three of the men had one-way tickets and no checked baggage. Also they were Muslims.

The idea that a Muslim boycott against US Airways would hurt the airline proves that Arabs are utterly tone-deaf. This is roughly the equivalent of Cindy Sheehan taking a vow of silence. How can we hope to deal with people with no sense of irony? The next thing you know, New York City cab drivers will be threatening to bathe.

Come to think of it, the whole affair may have been a madcap advertising scheme cooked up by US Airways. It worked with me. US Airways is my official airline now. Northwest, which eventually flew the Allah-spouting Muslims to their destinations, is off my list. You want to really hurt a U.S. air carrier's business? Have Muslims announce that it's their favorite airline.



Another crazy Muslim: "A Muslim who killed a swan while fasting during Ramadan has been given a two-month prison sentence. Shamsu Miah, 52, killed the mute swan at a boating pond in Llandudno, North Wales, on September 25.When challenged by police he said: "I am a Muslim, I am fasting, I needed to eat." Llandudno magistrates were told that Miah, from the town, had white feathers stuck in his beard and blood on his shirt. Jim Neary, for the prosecution, said: "The officers told him the swan was the property of the Queen and he replied, `I hate the Queen, I hate this country'." Miah, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to intentionally killing a wild bird and possessing a bladed article. He was released from custody, having served two months on remand."

Europe as a BAD example: "Some Americans look to European countries such as France, Germany and its Scandinavian neighbors and suggest that we adopt some of their economic policies. I agree - we should look at Europe for the lessons they can teach us. Dr. Daniel Mitchell, research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, does just that in his paper titled "Fiscal Policy Lessons from Europe." Government spending exceeds 50 percent of the GDP in France and Sweden and more than 45 percent in Germany and Italy, compared to U.S. federal, state and local spending of just under 36 percent. Government spending encourages people to rely on handouts rather than individual initiative, and the higher taxes to finance the handouts reduce incentives to work, save and invest. The European results shouldn't surprise anyone. U.S. per capita output in 2003 was $39,700, almost 40 percent higher than the average of $28,700 for European nations ... We don't have to rely on these statistics to make us not want to be like Europeans; just watch where the foot traffic and money flow. Some 400,000 European science and technology graduates live in the U.S"

Inequality is just: "In a free market, income inequality is the inevitable result of individual productivity inequality, and of course productivity inequality exists due to variations in natural ability, industriousness, education, risk-aversion and dumb luck. The reason income equality has grown rapidly (although hardly "infinitely," as Mr. Webb hyperbolically asserts) is that productivity inequality has grown. And the reason productivity inequality has grown is that with the advance of technology and globalization, the impact of a good idea or exceptional performance can be leveraged dozens of times more than it could be even one generation ago. J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, has made more than $200 million for each book she has written. Is that too much? Absolutely not, when one considers the benefits that each book brings to tens of millions of children (and adults) around the globe. But the impact of J.K. Rowling's creativity and hard work, and the income she has earned from it, would have been perhaps orders of magnitude smaller 30 years ago.



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

Comments? Email me here (Hotmail address). If there are no recent posts here blame and visit my mirror site here or here. My Home Pages are here or here or here.


No comments: