Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Culture Warrior

Recently finished reading Fox journalist Bill O'Reilly's Culture Warrior (Broadway Books, 2006). O'Reilly sums up the beliefs of the 'secular-progressive' as

  • A sharing of the wealth by targeting the affluent for most of the government's revenue.
  • Lax school discipline on American children to promote ehtir so-called liberties.
  • Naked hostility to religious values and their expression in public.
  • A "one-world" approach to foreign relations that would prevent the U.S. government from imposing a policy that would benefit America first.
  • A touchy-feely vision of our society that places individual self-expression and rights over self-sacrifice and adult responsibility.

Of course this is nothing profound to the veterans of the culture wars, but it is nice to have a summary of the position of those we disagree with. I would have included something about the political policy of Multiculturalism, Political Correctness and the philosophy of ethical relativism. But I guess O'Reilly is not a philosopher and he wants to stick to the issues at hand.

The book was an eye opener and identified some of the key figures and movements amongst the S-P movement, definately informative, but the book had too much of an "its us vs them, so lets get 'em" type flavour to it. A little too military. Although I generally agreed with O'Reilly, I guess I would have liked some more argumentation for his positions than was given. I think it is important to know why we believe what we do and why we disagree with others. But otherwise, the book is worth reading and definately applies to much that goes on in Australia too.


The Supporters of Terrorists

Janet Albrechtsen, a writer for The Australian, quotes journalist Debra Burlingame (28 March 2007, 'Gun-toting jihadi was not an angel'), whom sums up the PR campaign whipped up by lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detanees "...(to) put a sympathetic 'human face' on the detainees and convince the public that it had a stake in their plight". This is the image of David Hicks fead to the western media, one so desperate for an Al Qaeda martyr at the hands of the Satan inspired US government, and a media that has bought their party line - hook, line and sinker. But alas, the Left's handwringing and moralising over the Hicks case proves to be nothing more than blind emotion, as their case is torn apart by anyone armed with the least amount of critical thinking ability.

The absurd line, that Hicks confessed to crimes just to get out of the Gitmo torcher chamber, is undermined by his own father. Terry Hicks has admitted to the media that David confessed to him that the Americans "are the enemy", and he planned to fight them. This shows the ridiculousness of Green's leader Bob Brown's protest, "His guilty plea is simply a plea for release, for exit from the inhumane Guantanamo Bay gulag,". And personally I find it pretty hard to believe that such an elaborate agenda for Hick's terrorist activities could be so readily fabricated by the prosecution. There is just too much there, too easy to falsify, the Telegraph's Luke McIlveen lists his activities

"AFTER training with the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1999, Hicks joins terror group Lashka-e-Toiba in Kashmir and fires upon Indian soldiers in 2000;
HE travels to Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda in early 2001, meeting bin Laden several times in mountain training camps;
HE is recruited by al-Qaeda commander Muhammad Atef to learn kidnapping techniques and conduct surveillance on US targets;
HE reports for duty in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York, opting to fight with al-Qaeda near Kandahar airport;
HE is given an AK-47 assault rile, then fits himself out with ammunition and grenades;
HE joins fighters in Kabul, spending two hours on the front line with al-Qaeda fighting Coalition forces before retreating;
HE tries to flee to Pakistan and is captured in November 2001 in Baghlan, Afghanistan."

And what of the supposed torturous conditions he was kept under, resulting in symptoms like; sunken and dark eyes according to his lawyers, loss of weight and depressed mood by Australian Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja and his Australian lawyer Stephen Kenny, a generally deteriorating condition reported by the Sydney Morning Herald's David Marr? Well even the ABC was supprised to report of David's appearance, "He has gained considerable weight and has chest-length brown hair. His face is not as gaunt as his lawyers have claimed…". The SMH even found him in "reasonable health (and) reasonable spirits". So much for the "torture chamber".

To return to the Albrechtsen article, she sites the June 1942 case of German saboteurs landing on Long Island, New York, with terrorist intentions. They were similarly arrested and tried by a military commission, and the constitutionality of that commission was up held by the US Supreme Court. She goes on, "Last year the US Supreme Court once again upheld military commissions as an appropriate means for trying those captured and charged with breaking the laws of war, specifically in relation to the war on terror."

Piers Akerman also makes the point that Hick's defense team have lengthend his stay with their appeals.

So the David Hicks cheer squad would do well to remember some of these inconvenient facts regarding his detaineeship, before shouting 'injustice!'. Despoja has commented on the whole Hick's affair as "unfair", but in response to this I would say that, no, what Hicks is getting is not unfair, what is truly unfair is the bleeding heart of the left as it cries for a self confessed terrorist, but scarcely a wimper is ever heard in protest about the lives destroyed by the organisations he was fighting for. To talk of double standards would be a gross understatement. Hick's is nothing but yet another covert opportunity of the anti-America crowd to vent their venom.,20867,21458490-32522,00.html


Spiritual Warfare and Ideas

I was reflecting on the content of my previous post on the philosophy behind Islamic terror and saw the parallel with one particular passage of the Bible that instructs on spiritual warfare.

2 Cor 10: 3-6 "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled"

To translate this passage in terms of the 'war on terror', we could say that the real war against Islamic fundamentalists are not according to the flesh (launching missiles, sending in ground troops, or even UN sanctions and weapons inspectors), but it is about casting down arguments (their fascist philosophy, inspired by Qutb and his commentaries on the Koran), and anything else that stands against the freedom inspiring Biblical worldview. The worldview that has inspired western democracy and freedom of conscience, that the Islamic world finds so contemptible. It is about bringing your thoughts or beliefs into captivity to the obedience of Christ that will promote self sacrificial behaviour and esteem for reasoned argument (if you don't belief this then go to 1 Thess 5:21 "Test all things; hold fast what is good", this is the spirit of the scientific method, every thing must be put to the test before we believe it), instead of bigoted close mindedness.

Thus for me at least, Berman's thesis seems to vindicate what the Bible said 2,000 yrs ago. The real war is waged at the level of the intellect, a war over people's hearts and minds. John Maynard Keynes is famous for saying "ideas shape the course of history." The great reformed Theologian J. Gresham Machen has said this about the power of ideas

"What is today matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires."

Now wouldn't it be great if the international community recognised this? Instead of endless UN Resolutions and negotiations (that usually go nowhere), we ought to take the battle to where it really matters. The west needs to deploy its academics (well those not in bed with leftist ideology anyway) to a war of another kind, one that supports and legitimizes the military war already being fought.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Philosopher of Islamic Terror

It is a pretty rare day when I find myself agreeing whole heartedly with what a liberal has to say. But in this case, that is exactly what has occurred. Paul Berman, the 'Philosopher of Islamic Terror', has written an extremely insightful piece for the New York Times (23 March, 2003)

In this piece he briefly expounds the philosophical origins of some of the most prominent Islamic terrorist organisations of the 20th century. Berman's take on the 'war on terror' is not so much that it is a 'clash of civilisations', or races, or even cultures, but rather a clash of ideas, a war of worldviews.

Much of the inspiration for modern fundamentalist Muslims may be traced back to Egyptian philosopher Sayyid Qutb. Qutb provided the philosophical interpretation of the Koran that has inspired Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisation. Qutb the thinker, was the Karl Marx of Al Qaeda, to paraphrase Berman.

So what we are experiencing with Islamic terrorism is not just a simple clash of civilisations, but rather a clash of ideas, a clash between western liberalism and Islamic fascist philosophy; clearly something that transcends national and cultural boundaries.

Qutb's strategy was to work out a philosophy of Islam that is able to permeate the personal and public life of all Muslims. Sharia law was to be applied to every personal detail of one's life, including severe punishment for sexual crimes. The believer's heart and mind was to be so suffused with love for the Koran that it would be expected of them, if necessary, that they be killed for the cause of God. Berman quotes Qutb

"But the death of those who are killed for the cause of God gives more impetus to the cause, which continues to thrive on their blood."

Berman comments on the writing of Qutb

"To read is to glide forward toward death; and gliding toward death means you have understood what you are reading."

There was no advocating of separation of church and state like we have in the west. No divide between sacred private and secular public life. A ruling Caliphate was the only option, hence Qutb expresses outrage when in 1924 Turkey embraces a secular state. Islam becomes relegated to the private and loses true influence.

Thus Qutb would divide the world between Muslims and non-Muslims, and those Muslim countries that accepted American influence were traitors to the cause. Qutb also saw a world-wide effort on the part of "Crusaders and Zionists" to destroy Islam. Much of his Koranic commentary is dedicated to the Jews, he describes their "perfidy, greed, hatefulness, diabolical impulses, never-ending conspiracies and plots against Muhammad and Islam". We witness here the seeds of Jewish hatred that would blossom amongst future fundamentalist Muslims.

Qutb's writings were deep and extensive, he wasn't just some simple minded extremist blurting out bigoted epitaphs against Jews and Christians. He taught and lived out (and eventually died for) an all encompassing worldview.

And so here we have an account of the philosophical origins of modern Islam. Berman would argue that this provides much of the impetus to wage war against the secular west and Israel. Berman's unfolding of the true source of Islamic terror puts the Left's simplistic "its the fault of American foreign policy" argument to shame. How condescending and ignorant is the Left when they implicate that Muslim extremist actions are nothing but reactions to American hegemony. As if the terrorists themselves are less like rational, moral, autonomous individuals with free choice, and more like billiard balls knocked around the table by western cue sticks!

No, far from it. These people are acting according to their beliefs and they hate the west because of who we are and not so much because of any injustice that we have committed. Thus Berman recommends we fight with more than just tanks and bombs. We must wage an ideological war, we must put forward cogent arguments in defence of western ideas and western liberty.

Better advice on the 'war on terror' I have not heard. The west would do well to heed the words of Berman and start putting forward forceful arguments for our worldview instead of resorting to politics and military efforts that does not strike at the heart of the conflict.

Damien Spillane

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Multiculturalism and Sensitivity

The great evangelists of multiculturalism; both Left wing and Political Correct advocating media representatives, and politicians, claim to be extra sensitive about the needs of those of other cultures. You could say that they are just trying to give them a 'fair go', a chance to be equal amongst the mainstream Australian society. But just how truly sensitive are these do-gooders, when it comes to the vulnerable amongst other cultures, whether they be Muslim or Indigenous Australian? Let us witness some examples;

First, Louis Nowra has written a book entitled Bad Dreaming: Aboriginal Men's Violence Against Women and Children, here he debunks the political myth that has prevailed since the 1960's, that there is nothing essentially dysfunctional about Aboriginal society. An example of one notorious lefty sporting rose coloured glasses was ABC broadcaster Philip Adams, who said, "...there is just as much domestic violence and child abuse in the general community." But such wilfull ignorance is exposed by Nowra with fact after fact of domestic violence and sexual assaults in his book, proving that turning a blind eye will not vanish the problem. In fact ignoring the problem, whilst trying to prolong the Noble Savage myth, will only compound things. This results in a betrayal (not to mention belittling the seriousness of their situation) of those poor children and women suffering from domestic violence.

This is not to mention that time and time again Andrew Bolt, of the Sunday Herald, has exposed the fact that the 'stolen generation' myth being promulgated today, is doing much to hurt the welfare of Aboriginal children. The courts and social workers are too afraid to remove abused Aboriginal children from their homes in fear of being accused of carrying on the 'stolen generations'. One example

"A VIOLENT man who inflicted horrific injuries on his toddler nephew was given custody despite fears expressed by childcare workers that he posed a danger."

You see in this case it was more important to the courts that 'cultural identity' be maintained, than actually remove this child from a clearly dangerous and abusive environment. Again we see the compassion of the Multiculturalist.

Adding to this, in Europe

"A German judge has stirred a storm of protest here by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a fast-track divorce on the ground that her husband beat her."

You see it isn't the case that wife beating is wrong regardless of your culture, because there are no absolute moral laws like 'you shall not beat your wife'. No, what is right for one culture may not be right for another. In this case the Judge obviously thought that cultural relativism should prevail. Fortunately the powers that be had enough sense to remove this judge from the case.

But in all this you are left wondering, just how compassionate are the multiculturalist Left towards the vulnerable amongst minority cultures? They are sensitive to the perpetrators, but ironically (given their traditional boast of representing minorities, the weak and the vulnerable), the victim, the vulnerable one, is too often left out in the cold.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Livingston and Pipes debate

Esteemed Middle East expert Daniel Pipes debated mayor of London Ken Livingston on 20th of January this year. Pipes was accompanied by Douglas Murray of the Social Affairs Unit and Livingston with Salma Yacoob of the Respect party. This is well worth watching, if nothing else than to see the absurdly naive comments of a member of the Left (Livingston), whom seemed to want to blame everything from the second half of the 20th century on America; from the Cold War right up until the modern 'war on terror'.

Equally erroneously, he proposes an ultra tolerant Multicultural London as a solution to the tensions between Muslims and Britain. But Pipes doesn't fall for such utopian Political Correctness, in response he mentions how British authorities have revealed that terrorists planning attacks in Kenya, Pakistan, Iraq etc paid visits to London before the attacks. So much for multiculturalism.

Murray's presentation was quite forceful, but I thought Yacoob could really do no more than make "it is all imperial America's fault!" type statements, she presented no real argument. Go here to watch the debate, I think Pipes and Murray really take it to Livingston and Yakoob, whilst their arguments were vacuous at best.

Wilberforce and the Christian Mind

Tomorrow will mark the anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery Act, the ending of that aweful practice whereby human beings, bearing the image of God, were treated as mere objects - commodoties to be sold and traded. The great social critic William Wilberforce will be remembered as the man who very lonesomely took on his colleagues in the British parliament, his deep devotion to Christian ethical principles spurred him on to fight the good fight, that so many would be thankful for today. Go here for a good article on the Wilberforce fight for the end of slavery.

But although he was a man of deep devotion to his faith and also had a zeal for practical ministry, the Christian church, now more than ever, needs to heed another kind of advice he gave, "In an age in which infidelity abounds, do we observe carefully instructing their children in the principles of faith they profess? Or do they furnish their children with arguments for the defense of that faith?"

This is pretty amazing stuff, Wilberforce is recommending that believers teach apologetics (the reasoned defense of the faith) to their children. Oh that the church of Australia and around the world would listen to his words (as the British parliament did with his slavery message) and once again value the life of the mind and apologetics. Instead of floundering in anti-intellectualism and emotionalism that is only all too common these days.