View 756 Wednesday, January 02, 2013
The year end fiscal cliff madness has abated but hardly ended. The President has more money to spend, and not much in the way of restrictions on how to spend it.
The history of Western Civilization includes that period when Parliaments wrested the Power of the Purse from the King, and used that to temper absolute monarchy. We are witnessing another act in that drama; those who thought that it ended in 1688 or 1787 underestimated the staying power of the Old Kings. True, these kings have limited terms of office – so far. But they enjoy a great retirement. George W Bush may not have as elaborate a palace as Diocletian built for himself at Split, nor quite so large a bodyguard, but he hardly lives in discomfort. Clinton has little to complain about. And we are just moving into the new era in which the President shuts down entire cities so that he can enjoy a round of golf, while fleets of aircraft stand by at his beck and call. And when he rides in triumph he does not have to endure the whispered reminders that he is but a man.
The fiscal crisis will continue. Taxes go up. Debts go up. Spending goes up. Bunny inspectors get raises, and expansions of their authority. New regulations come forth.
I have this:
Totally disgusting and totally Islamic.
Cleric Issues Fatwa Allowing Gang Rape of Syrian Women "http://www.radicalislam.org/news/saudi-cleric-issues-fatwa-allowing-gang-rape-syrian-women"
This is PURE Islam at its "finest". When will our head in the sand leaders realize we are fighting Satan’s Avatars on Earth in an ultimately genocidal conflict, theirs or ours. We don’t have the option of sitting out the game.
The link leads to a site with an obvious point of view, Google points to a number of other sites with much the same information. I have seen nothing to indicate that any other cleric has commented on this.
We are certainly engaged in a cultural war. Assuming moral equivalence between the Soviets and the West was a major factor in prolonging the Seventy Years war. Of course the cultural war between Islam and everyone not in the House of Islam has gone on for a lot longer than Seventy Years. Mustapha Kemal Ataturk sought to bring Turkey into the liberal secular West by forbidding Islamic rule in Turkey and enforcing toleration of non-Islamic religions. A secular state was built into the Turkish Constitution and the Army was charged with enforcing that. This is coming to an and, and Turkey is becoming more and more an Islamic state although my Jewish sources tell me that there are no problems for teen age Jewish tourists, at least in the largest cities, and Christian communities in Turkey continue to flourish.
Egypt after the fall of Hosni Mubarak has systematically eliminated the Christian communities that have existed in Alexandria and other Egyptian cities for centuries.
The West has cultural weapons of mass destruction which work on all cultures including our own. In the US it is still considered barbaric for the male members of a family to murder a female relative because she has been raped (and therefore dishonors the family), although it happens as do murders of girls who have abandoned an arranged marriage; but it’s rare enough here. Perhaps more frequent in other places in the West.
Of course it is not a cultural war if one side believes that diversity requires acceptance of everything.
This is not the first crisis of western civilization, nor the first time that much of the civilization has become libertine. Interestingly, Charles Murray finds that much of the American middle to upper class continues to practice the old virtues – monogamous marriage, hard work and ‘Protestant ethics’ work values, religious attendance and thrives; but in Murray’s words, they do not preach what they practice. They preach a form of extreme tolerance, but since more and more they live in communities isolated from the consequences of losing the culture war, they may not know just what the fruits of diversity may be.
But we remain in a culture war.
I suppose it is time to search for a new strategy for those who favor the old republic. Clearly the leadership of the nation does not.
We see the trends.
I now have this:
Correction re "gang rape fatwa"
Dear Mr. Pournelle,
The story you just posted is based on a photoshopped tweet circulated by Syrian regime supporters, and picked up by a Lebanese satellite channel. On his actual Twitter account, the sheikh in question’s reaction was: "A tweet containing an evil fatwa attributed to me – and the liar was so ignorant that he exceeded the 140 character limit! I have denied it on Twitter and Facebook, yet Bashar’s channels are still spreading it!" (translated from:
). For an English-language retraction by one of the first English sources to spread it, look at http://www.alternet.org/world/exhibit-how-islamophobic-meme-can-spread-wildfire-across-internet.
The dynamics are not difficult to understand. Muhammad Al-Arifi is a vocal supporter of the Syrian armed opposition, so the Syrian government smears him (and, please note, a story like this is as much a smear in the Middle East as it would be in the US). The resulting smear happens to fit beautifully into the worldviews of groups all across the ideological spectrum – from lefty feminists in the case of AlterNet to right-wing Zionists in the case of RadicalIslam.org – so it gets published without much fact-checking. But interpreting the Syrian civil war, of all things, as part of some age-old conflict between Islam and the West is a recipe for serious misunderstandings.
Once again another reason for not covering breaking news. On the other hand, some news is never broken although everyone in the intelligence community and for that matter the major press knows it. There is no definitive agreement on just who can issue a Fatwah. Interesting that you know all this while Snopes remains non-committal. Thank you.
It remains important fact that the cultural differences between the West and Islam are great. The West is expected to tolerate and forgive nearly any action taken in the name of Islamic honor; but the favor is not reciprocal either in the East or in the West. The culture war is important because at its heart is the most important question of politics: “Whom does the army obey?” The Great Bill of Rights and the Constitution are supposed to have settled that for England and the United States, and the various revolutions, risings, reconstitutions, new constitutions, changes of dynasties, more risings of the 19th and 20th Centuries are supposed to have settled the matter for the rest of the West. Clearly they did not.
Few men have ever given their lives for a standard of living, and most think it foolish to risk one’s life for someone else’s standard of living. Yet armies do exist and those who have soldiers who will dare all generally win against those who fight for money. But that is for another day and another essay. Meanwhile, the west continues to degrade, and Ortega y Gasset’s Revolt of the Masses looks more and more relevant.
Happy New Year.
© 2013, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.