Wednesday’s wander through the internet *UPDATED*

Victorian posy of pansiesStella Paul notes something I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere when it comes to Obamacare: the devastating effect it will have on people who travel or divide their time between two locations. The new policies are narrowly locked into local care providers.  But people aren’t always in the same locality.  Both of my children have been hospitalized while we’ve been traveling. If our insurance company hadn’t paid, we would have been out tens of thousands of dollars. Knowing that sickness can happen and that our insurance might reject our claims makes travel much less enticing.

The Left needs censorship because it’s ideas do not work in the real world.  Only censorship can hide that fact long enough for the Lefts to have such a tight grip on the levers of power that, once the truth emerges, hapless citizens can do nothing to change the situation.  The latest example of this is Covered Oregon’s insistence that those who know about its healthcare debacle must forfeit their free speech rights.

Speaking of censorship, one would think that Britain would be doing everything in its power not to become the living incarnation of Orwell’s 1984.  Instead, though, it is hastening down that path, by refusing admittance to those who make factual statements about who Islamists really are and what they do.

Some people — most notably greedy insurers — have been voluntarily silencing themselves (self-imposed censorship, if you will), because they believed that the Democrats would reward them.  Now that Obama is actively trying to destroy them, Jonah Goldberg wonders if these corporate worms will turn.

Speaking of worms turning, is it my imagination or are some courts getting a little more courageous about taking on Obama’s overreach.  Gabriel Malor has what I think of as a great example of this judicial trend.  No wonder Reid went nuclear in order to pack the courts.

By now, of course, you’ve heard about the young metrosexual nattily attired in a plaid onsie pajama and clutching a cup of hot chocolate, whose image went out in a Tweet from Barack Obama urging people to “talk about getting health insurance.”  I call him “Princess Pajama Boy”:

Princess Pajama Boy

Other people, much more witty than I will ever be, have been having way too much fun with this one.  You can see collections of retweets and Photoshops here, here, and here.  There’s a bit of overlap between the three sites, but still a lot of original stuff on each.  Here’s my effort:

And finally, the ad that everyone is saying is a political game changer:

UPDATE: I’m still laughing over the Pajama Game posters that Steven Hayward found.

UPDATE II:  And still more posters, this time from National Review.

UC Berkeley student government announces that the phrase “illegal immigrant” is banned *UPDATED*

One wonders how many of the jubilant Berkeley students who bought into 1964's Free Speech Movement would be shocked by today's censorship.  My guess is "none."  It was always about Leftist re-education.

One wonders how many of those neatly attired and jubilant Berkeley students who bought into 1964′s Free Speech Movement would be shocked by today’s censorship. My guess is “none.” It was always about Leftist re-education.

The People’s Republic of Berkeley or, as it’s more commonly known, the University of California, Berkeley, has stayed true to its core Orwellian Leftism by banning language. Today’s targeted “bad thinking” is the phrase “illegal immigrant.” According to the censors occupying Berkeley’s student government, that phrase is “racially charged,” “dehumanizes” people, and contributes to “punitive and discriminatory actions aimed primarily at immigrants and communities of color.” Apparently the truth hurts.

The resolution, of course, carried with the usual Soviet style unanimity: 18 voted “yes” to censor thought and language, while one student abstained. (More on that single abstention later.)

Actually, the ultra-Left Berkeley was late to the party on this one, but that’s only because the University of California in Los Angeles has a much higher population of illegal immigrant students. That’s almost certainly why UCLA passed a similar resolution in August, while Berzerkley didn’t get around to it until November.

The resolution is a beautiful example of Orwellian speech. It leads with pure academese nonsense: “The ‘I’ word is legally inaccurate since being out of status is a civil rather than criminal infraction.” You’ll note that the “I” word (and we’re not sure whether the “I” word is “illegal” or “immigrant”) is now so tainted that I t’s been elevated to the status of the infamous “N” word. (For those of you too young to remember the OJ Simpson trial, or those who just dislike censorship, the “N” word is “nigger.” It’s a nasty, mean-spirited word, but nobody has ever dropped dead spontaneously from hearing or reading it.)

That nonsense phrase is just a warm-up for the Orwellian language changes the students propose:

“No human being is illegal. ‘Foreign nationals,’ ‘undocumented immigrants,’ ‘immigrants without papers’ and ‘immigrants seeking status’ are examples of terms we can use that do not dehumanize people.

You can use all the metaphors you like, dear little UC Berkeley soviets, but the fact remains that, to the extent these people are in America in an undocumented way without papers, it’s because they broke the law by sneaking over the border like thieves in the nights. In other words, adjectively, they’re immigrants who are here illegally, which makes them – yes, wait for it — ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

The problem, of course, isn’t the words. It’s the behavior. You can dress mutton up as lamb, but it’s still mutton. And someone who sneaked over the border in violation of our nation’s laws is still illegal no matter how frilly the words you drape around that person.

Of course, the commissars at Berkeley can’t just stop with a stupid resolution. What’s Soviet-style censorship and shaming without communist-style re-education? To that end, the resolution also calls for administrators and faculty to attend an “UndocuAlly training workshop.”

Considering that greater than 90% of Berkeley’s administrators and faculty members are the ones who trained these junior Leftists, it’s actually funny to hear the students demand that their mentors need re-education. Of course, that’s the way it happened in China too, when the younger generation decided that the elders who ushered in Communism showed inadequate fervor in their commitment to the monster they had created. It was these radicalized students who ushered in Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,” complete with 50-70 million dead Chinese citizens – all of whom no doubt starved to death joyfully thanks to their contribution to the great communist cause.

As for the sole abstention, it’s worth noting that he’s probably ready for re-education too. Student senator Solomon Nwoche agrees in principle with the resolution, but thought it was a waste of time. That shows practical intelligence. His real sin, though, was in his sneaking respect for freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas. He was disappointed, he said, that, when a single person tried to speak out against the resolution, the student senators laughed at him or, even more disgustingly, turned their backs to him.

(A slightly modified version of this post first appeared at Mr. Conservative.)

UPDATE:  I should add here that I agree that America’s immigration laws are dreadful.  Having said that, it’s up to America to change her laws, not for illegal immigrants to change them by ignoring them.  (Well, in theory that’s the case.  In fact, the Obama administration is also changing them by ignoring them.)  We also should start putting pressure on Mexico.  Immigrants come here illegally because Mexico is so shamefully corrupt and poorly run that a country rich in resources, but natural and human, is mired in poverty, and because Mexico charges its citizens such heinous amounts to allow them to leave the country legally that poor are stymied both by America’s laws and by Mexico’s.  A fix is a good thing; disrespect for our country’s borders and laws is a disastrous thing, going to the sovereign integrity of our nation and her citizens.

The courage of our convictions — NOT

In one of the comments to my earlier post about Ted Cruz, Mike Devx noted that Cruz is attractive because he has “the courage of his convictions.” That particular phrase tied in with something I’ve been thinking about for the last few days, regarding freedom of speech, or rather the lack thereof, when it comes to Islam and Leftism.

The starting point for my thoughts was this Topher video, in which he focuses on the importance of free speech:

As you can see, Topher structured the video around the argument that so much of what we accept as true today started out as highly unpopular speech that the majority tried to quash through censorship both official and informal.

We tend to think of censorship as something that arises because we fear the power of “the Other’s” ideas.  Certainly that is the animating purpose behind all those hate speech laws throughout Europe, and the hate crime laws in America. Both are predicated upon stamping out the overwhelming temptation of an enemy’s words or acts.

Here’s the thing, though:  If we trusted in ourselves we would not be so afraid of the Other. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case if Islam, which includes as core doctrine the requirement that its practitioners must stamp out any opposing speech, ideas, or religion. A self-confident ideology would not be so paranoid about potential opposition.

The same is true, of course, when it comes to Leftism. Marx didn’t make censorship a core ideological demand, but Leftism invariably leads to censorship.  This is true whether we’re talking about government ukases or about the social strictures of Political Correctness. Leftism knows, because history has shown, that when people start to speak out against Leftism, Leftism falls by the historic wayside.

What’s so deeply depressing in today’s political scene is the fact that conservative politicians are so desperately afraid that their own ideology is too weak to compete.  Rather than taking the Islamic or Leftist tact of imposing censorship on others, they preemptively impose it upon themselves.

America’s conservative politicians have Stockholm Syndrome.  Despite recognizing that the opposing party is their enemy, they have become so cowed that they seem truly to believe that there’s something wrong about equal treatment under the law (as opposed to the affirmative discrimination the Left encourages), about the virtues of self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and about other common conservative and libertarian principles.

In some ways, I know I’ve just stated the obvious — the more you believe in yourself, the less scared you’re going to be of the other guy.  Nevertheless, we need to remind Republican politicians that there is no virtue in preemptive surrender to the other side.  If you’re going to die anyway, at least die fighting, with your own banner bravely flying.

If I were in charge of CPAC, I would ignore the Democrats entirely.  Instead, I would spend the entire time educating conservatives about conservativism.  They need to believe affirmative, rather than passively, that to the extent the American people want freedom, equality under the law, and affluence, conservative ideals are the ones that are going to take them there.

Thursday morning hodge-podge about Muslim censorship, Western self-censorship, and Western complicity in Islam’s Holy War

My brain is slowly warming up here so I’m not yet capable of original content.  Instead, let me offer other people’s wonderful stuff.

To get this set started, you have to begin by reading a speech that the Ayatollah Khomeini made in 1942, in which he stated explicitly that Islam is not a religion for wimps, but for conquering warriors (emphasis mine).

Those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. All the countries conquered by Islam or to be conquered in the future will be marked for everlasting salvation. For they shall live under [Allah’s law; the Sharia]. . . . Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this mean sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us? Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender [to the enemy]? Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to paradise, which can be opened only for holy warriors! There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and hadiths [sayings of the prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.

There are a lot of people out there upon whom the Ayatollah could spit (if he were still alive).  Fortunately for the Ayatollah’s cause, and very unfortunately for ours, all of the “spitees” are on our side of the cultural divide.  At FrontPage, you can see video interviews with three front-line anti-Islamic (not anti-Muslim, but anti-Islamic) warriors regarding the West’s systematic refusal to stand up to the way in which critics of Islamism are silenced, with the silencing coming from both Muslims and the Left.

Nick Cohen continues this matched set with a discussion about the way in which the literary world, from the moment in 1989 that the Ayatollah issued his fatwa against Salman Rushdie, engaged in aggressive, total self-censorship.  I guess one could say that one can’t expect the warrior spirit from writers, but it would be nice if at least some of the writers and publishers had a warrior spirit.  To the extent that they set the mental tone for a generation, since the late 1980s, their tone, sold to universities, politicians, and other self-styled elites, has been preemptive surrender.

Speaking of those elite universities, Harvard continues to ally itself with the anti-Israel cause.  When I’ve suggested that our children not go to Harvard (assuming they could even get in) because I consider Harvard antisemitic, Mr. Bookworm has demanded that I find one instance of overt antisemitism from Harvard.  He’s correct that there is none.  What there is, though, is covert antisemitism, which takes the form of an academic bend profoundly hostile to Israel and supportive of the Palestinians — Palestinians who, just coincidentally, dream of a genocidal purge in Israel that leaves the land and waters running red with Jewish blood.  Stephen Walt, a Harvard professor, provides a nice example of the Harvard viewpoint — he plays a numbers game, which conveniently allows him to ignore little issues such as competing values in an existential war or the fact that the Islamists initiate attacks and we merely retaliate in way that, we hope, prevents further Islamist initiations.  By the numbers, he says, we deserve to be hated.  This is where your tuition dollars go.

And speaking of those values, Gerald M. Steinberg does a nice job identifying Israel’s values (which are remarkably harmonious with the most enlightened Western values), and reminding us that the Left, the Muslims, and the UN (but I repeat myself), have engaged in a steady drumbeat of lies, manipulation, and bullying to make it appear as if Israel is a repressive, totalitarian culture, worthy of scorn and destruction.

And finally, not about Israel, but a link reminding you what the American Left thinks like.  (I originally wrote “looks like,” but “thinks like” is more accurate.)

White House takes down petition asking it to stop pretending that Catholic institutions aren’t being forced to pay for ideologically offensive products

This morning, I linked to a very clever post that Bad Catholic put up, chastising the Obama administration for doing a sleight-of-hand, completely fake “compromise” regarding its demand that religious organizations fund birth control, sterilization and abortifacients.  At the end of the post, Bad Catholic invites readers to sign a petition urging the administration not to make an ass of itself with regard to the issue.   If one clicks on that link, one finds oneself on a page that is part of the White House’s own citizen petition website, which it patriotically calls “We the People.”  That is, the White House invites citizens to create and circulate online petitions using the White House’s on server and website as the host:

Welcome to We the People on WhiteHouse.gov. This tool provides you with a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.

Well, that’s exactly what Bad Catholic did:  he petitioned “the Obama Administration to take action on [an] . . . important issue[] facing our country” — namely, the issue of religious freedom.  Incidentally, unlike those on the Left, we conservatives define religious freedom, in accordance with the Founder’s understanding and the explicit Constitutional language, to mean that the federal government may not use its coercive powers to interfere with religious doctrine or practice.

The petition which, unfortunately I didn’t copy, was very funny.  The worst word in it was “ass” as in the remonstrance that the federal government “cease being an ass.”  In simple, amusing, non-violent, non-threatening, non-intimidating language, Bad Catholic stated that the so-called “compromise” did not fool Catholics or other pro-Life individuals and organizations, since it still requires all employers to fund insurance that pays for birth control, sterilization, and abortifacients.  Bad Catholic then politely asked that the White House withdraw this mandate.

Well, the White House did withdraw something:

 

Yes, the White House, rather than withdrawing the mandate, withdrew the petition.  Nor did I inadvertently link to the wrong page.  As you can see from my helpfully placed red arrow, I linked over to the correct petition, since the tab and the URL both still refer to a petition entitled “Keep Calm and Cease Being an Ass Towards the Catholic Church.”

That’s Obama democracy in action.  Now we know what happens when we ” petition the Obama Administration to take action on . . . important issues facing our country.”  The White House deliberately deletes and ignores us.

Just to give you a little perspective on this, I feel it’s worthwhile reminding you that, in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith’s job was to engage in historical revisionism.  In other words, Winston erased history, ensuring that the present always comported with the government’s current political needs and posture.

With the 2012 election heating up, it must be “cry racism” season again

Despite the fact that Republicans are currently busy working the circular firing squad, making outside efforts to destroy them somewhat redundant, the Progressives/Democrats/Media/Usual Suspects aren’t taking any chances about the November 2012 election and have already brought out the big gun:  They’re crying racism.

The racism claim that got the biggest headline this week is the study that purports to show that conservatism, racism and stupidity are a package deal.  If you’re conservative, you must be racist and stupid.  If you’re stupid, you must be racist and conservative.  And if you’re racist, you must be stupid and conservative.

Cedric the Entertainer — well known racist (and idiot and conservative?)

Hold in your mind for a second that last thought:  If you’re racist, you must be stupid and conservative.  Racism, of course, means to hold a negative belief about someone, or to insult someone, based solely upon their race (although I’ll have more on that definition in a minute).  That being the case, how do the usual suspects account for the fact that Cedric the Entertainer, that noted Progressive, launched a foul mouthed attack against a black woman — which focuses solely, and negatively, upon her race, a race that happens to be African American?  And no, as is so often the case when I’m talking about lunacy from the Left, I’m not kidding.  As John Nolte says

Crystal Wright is an accomplished commentator and writer who holds a  Masters from Georgetown. But she just happens to be black and female and Republican, so therefore …. this gets fired out to nearly a quarter of a million people:

African-Americans, especially African-American women, pay a very high price for stepping off the Progressive plantation.

It’s going to get worse, too, before it gets better, and that’s because the Left is now taking the Orwellian position of remove race from racism entirely, so as to ensure that all conservative words or acts can be properly castigated as racist, justifying ostracism, insults and reeducation.  Incidentally, I understand that the preceding sentence makes no sense, but that’s not my fault.  When Newspeak controls the discourse, the issue isn’t sense, but censorship or, more specifically, getting conservatives to shut up:

Color Blind Racism” was the title of a recent article in the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on-line publication, The Root.  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. last appeared on this blog for his outrageous charge of racism against a policeman for following protocol, and The Root was last mentioned on this blog for its list of blacks whom they would like to see erased from history.  The list was a who’s who of murders, cannibals and despicable people, and included both Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and right wing black politician Alan Keyes.

So what is “color blind racism?”  According to The Root, it is ”a racial ideology that expresses itself in seemingly nonracial terms. As such, it is most practiced by people who never see themselves outside their own myopic worldview. ”  What that means in practice is a redefinition of racism from its actual meaning, a belief that a particular race is inherently inferior, into a wholly new arena, where, mirabile dictu, criticism directed towards blacks, and indeed, the mere mention of any inconvenient fact, is inherently racist.  The “Orwellian term, ‘color blind racism.’” is, as James Taranto at the WSJ describes it, ”the pithiest summation we’ve ever encountered of the absurdity of contemporary left-liberal racial dogma.”

Read the rest here, so that you can fully understand the brave new world in which you are about to live.  George Orwell wouldn’t have been proud — since what he feared has come to pass — but Big Brother would have been very proud indeed.

No more smiles from George Orwell in our Newspeak world

“In God We Trust” banned in California classrooms

Do you have any spare change lying around?  Yes?  I thought you might.

My dollar coins say “In God We Trust.”

My dollar bills say “In God We Trust.”

My quarters say “In God We Trust.”

My dimes say “In God We Trust.”

My nickels say “In God We Trust.”

My pennies say “In God We Trust.”

Every time I touch American legal tender, I touch the words “In God We Trust.”

Nevertheless, it turns out that those words are illegal — if they appear, not on a student’s coins, but on his classroom wall:

Saying a high school teacher has no right to “use his public position as a pulpit,” a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a San Diego County school district was on solid legal ground when it ordered a math instructor to remove large banners declaring “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE.”

Those inscriptions and others that longtime teacher Bradley Johnson displayed on his classroom wall amounted to a statement of religious views that the Poway Unified School District was entitled to disavow, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Under U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the appellate panel said, government employees, including public schoolteachers, have no constitutional right to express views in the workplace that contradict their employer’s rules or policies.

“Johnson took advantage of his position to press his particular views upon the impressionable and captive minds before him,” said Judge Richard Tallman in the 3-0 ruling, which reversed a lower-court decision in the teacher’s favor.  (Emphasis mine.)

"Hey, you can't say that in here!"

I especially like Judge Tallman’s reference to “impressionable and captive minds.”  Apparently those young minds can withstand the constant propaganda emanating from legal tender, but put it on a classroom wall and their mushy psyches are completely overcome.  Under that kind of pernicious “God We Trust” influence, the next thing you know, those poor, weak-brained students are going to rush out and commit some heinous acts of morality and decency. You can see pictures of the hypnotic, over-powering banners here.

(By the way, if you’re getting old, as I am, and are trying to fix “God Shed His Grace On Thee” in your mind, it’s from “America The Beautiful,” a song that liberal media stalwart Lynn Sherr identified in her book about its creation as our “nation’s favorite song.”)

We need to stop worrying about al Qaeda and start getting seriously worried about our judiciary.  For three federal appellate court judges to say that the motto imprinted on every coin in America constitutes a private statement of religious views that can be banned from the classroom crosses a line from Progressive to deranged.

Everybody Draw Mohamed Day — or, you’re not the boss of me

Sometimes, to their creator’s dismay, ideas take on a life of their own.  In the wake of Comedy Central’s decision to censor a South Park episode that didn’t actually draw Mohamed, but merely suggested the possibility of doing so, Molly Norris came up with the idea of “everybody draw Mohamed Day.” Then, terrified by the realization that people actually thought her idea was a good one — and no doubt afraid of becoming the next chick-filet in the Islamic book of dead people — Norris quickly backed off.  As I said, though, good ideas have a life of their own, and drawing Mohamed is definitely a good idea.

It’s a good idea, quite obviously, because modern Western society is predicated on free speech.  Admittedly, there are gradations to that free speech, with America standing at the pinnacle of what is allowed and protected as an ordinary part of civil discourse.  Speech becomes increasingly more regulated as one travels through other Western nations.  Nevertheless, any nation that stands on the shoulders of the Enlightenment gives a nod to the importance of freely expressed ideas and information.  When we give up free speech, we give up a significant part of our identity.

Lately, though, European nations and American TV stations have willingly abandoned any semblance of commitment to the notion of free speech.  And what’s really dreadful about this practice is that it’s not even driven by the traditional rationale for speech restriction, which is to protect the ruling party from internal challenges to its control.  Instead, this is a purely fear-based abandonment.  It has nothing to do with principles or power.  It is, instead, a craven desire to avoid screaming mobs wielding sharp swords.

The various Western nations (and American TV stations) engaged in cultural retreat dress it up as respect for the “other.”  That respect, however, exists only because we fear that “other.”  Sam Harris, in what is probably the most worthy article the Huffington Post has ever published — and one that I strongly urge you to read — gets to the heart of the matter.  After discussing (1) Geert Wilder’s martyrdom at the hands of the Dutch political class for his film Fitna, a film that reveals how closely Islam tracks on Mohamed’s incendiary rhetoric, and (2) Kurt Westergaard’s life in hiding thanks to the very first Mohamed cartoons, Harris explains how Islam is gaming the West:

Wilders, like Westergaard and the other Danish cartoonists, has been widely vilified for “seeking to inflame” the Muslim community. Even if this had been his intention, this criticism represents an almost supernatural coincidence of moral blindness and political imprudence. The point is not (and will never be) that some free person spoke, or wrote, or illustrated in such a manner as to inflame the Muslim community. The point is that only the Muslim community is combustible in this way. The controversy over Fitna, like all such controversies, renders one fact about our world especially salient: Muslims appear to be far more concerned about perceived slights to their religion than about the atrocities committed daily in its name. Our accommodation of this psychopathic skewing of priorities has, more and more, taken the form of craven and blinkered acquiescence.

There is an uncanny irony here that many have noticed. The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we will kill you. Of course, the truth is often more nuanced, but this is about as nuanced as it ever gets: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we peaceful Muslims cannot be held responsible for what our less peaceful brothers and sisters do. When they burn your embassies or kidnap and slaughter your journalists, know that we will hold you primarily responsible and will spend the bulk of our energies criticizing you for “racism” and “Islamophobia.”

When we play into this Islamic game — “We, your resident Muslims, promise to live up to our putative reputation for peace as long as you don’t exercise those of your freedoms that put us in a killing rage” — we give up the essence of who we are.  We are no longer the heirs of Voltaire and the Enlightenment, of the Founders and the abolitionists.  We are no longer free people.  Instead, we are slaves to our fears, with our lives increasingly constrained by the random and irrational demands of small subsets of our western societies.

That the demands are irrational is another reason to resist the increasingly shrill imperative to cease and desist from creating and publishing any drawings that offend Muslim sensibilities.  And please keep in mind here that this is not just about Mohamed images.  In our short attention-span world, I’m willing to bet that large numbers of people have already forgotten that, in years past, Muslims have demanded that the countries in which they live change their ice cream logos, clean up the Piglet tissue boxes, and remove their historic statutory (or have it forcibly removed).

Zombie correctly points out that, once we start ceding to resident Muslims the right to determine what is provocative (to them, that is), there is no end:

This is not an argument over the right to be “provocative” or “offensive”; rather, is it something much more significant — an argument over who gets to determine what counts as provocative or offensive in the first place. The Western world dragged itself out of the church-dominated Dark Ages and into the Enlightenment in part over this precise issue: The freedom to engage in speech and actions which formerly had been classified as the crime known as “blasphemy.” It seems such a trivial and quaint issue in retrospect, and hardly worthy of note from our hyper-secularized 21st-century perspective, but tell that to the millions of people who for centuries lived under the yoke of governments which used accusations of blasphemy and other religious misbehaviors as a primary tool of tyranny and oppression. The modern world dawned with the American and French Revolutions and the emergence of the explicitly secular state — the Americans rejecting the Church of England as Britain’s legally enforced national religion, and the French shrugging off centuries of acquiescence to domination by the Catholic Church in civil affairs. In both cases, new governmental paradigms were established in which there was an inviolable separation of church and state, which in practice meant no civil laws enforcing religious doctrines and (most importantly for our discussion) no laws against blasphemy.

So Everybody Draw Mohamed Day is a good thing because it affirms who we are — an Enlightened Western civilization dedicated, in varying degrees, to free speech — and because it reminds everyone that, in a pluralistic society, no one group gets to use violence and intimidation to engage in capricious, and increasingly restrictive, decisions about what is offensive.

To me, though, the most important reason for observing Everybody Draw Mohamed Day is to remind us, not of who we are, but who we are NOT.  As a nation, we are not Muslims.

Of course, some of us are Muslims, but those who are, at least in America, are Muslims voluntarily.  This is, after all, a a nation dedicated to the proposition that its citizens can worship freely.  Provided that we do not impinge on the public well-being, we are allowed to choose our faith, follow our chosen doctrine, and engage in the many and varied religious observances so freely available in this great land.

If I’m Catholic, I get to go to Mass and, if I’m very traditional female worshiper, I can wear a lovely lace mantilla in church.  If I’m Jewish, I attend my services on Friday night and Saturday morning.  If I’m ultra-Orthodox and male, I wear a prayer shawl; if I’m female, I wear a wig and modest clothing.  If I’m Mormon, I wear my ritual undergarments and have reserved to me the special privilege of access to the Temple.  If I’m Buddhist, I engage in contemplation.  If I’m Muslim, I pray five times a day and abstain from alcohol.  If I’m Unitarian, I believe anything I damn well please, as long as I do so in civil and liberal fashion.  Heck, such are America’s blessings that I can be nothing at all, turning my back on God, and sneering every time I see a coin with the imprint “In God We Trust.”   I am what I believe I should be, what my family raised me to be, and what my chosen religious community practices.

But if I accede to Muslim demands that I refrain from drawing Mohamed or pigs or boars or ice cream logos or buddhas, I have tacitly conceded that I am Muslim.  After all, I am conforming my behavior to Muslim doctrine.

Muslims understand this.  Their rage over these images isn’t about the images themselves.  It is, instead, about incrementally drawing all of us into the Muslim faith.  The reality is that, once you’ve stopped creating images offensive to Muslims, and stopped making movies offensive to Muslims, and stopped writing books offensive to Muslims, and stopped saying things offensive to Muslims, and stopped your stores from selling the pork and alcohol offensive to Muslims, and attired your women in burqas to protect them from rampaging Muslims, well — you’re pretty much a practicing Muslim.  You’ve been converted, and you didn’t even realize it was happening.

And once you’ve crossed that invisible line, a line known only to your new Muslim overlords, woe unto you if you try to reverse that conversion process.  Apostates, by turning their back on Mohamed, deserve death.  So really, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  If you don’t comply with all the Muslim restrictions, they threaten to kill you — and if you do comply with all the Muslim restrictions, they still threaten to kill you.

So this is where the rubber hits the road.  You’re between a Muslim rock and an Islamic hard place.  Do you take a stand now, while your freedoms still mean something, or do you simply acquiesce, step by step, until you find that you have no freedoms at all, that there are no compatriots willing to stand by you in the fight, and that y0ur remaining options are between a living or an actual death?

By the way, it’s that fighting compatriot thing that really matters right now.  As Sam Harris says, after describing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s life (emphasis mine):

The problem is not, as is often alleged, that governments cannot afford to protect every person who speaks out against Muslim intolerance. The problem is that so few people do speak out. If there were ten thousand Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s, the risk to each would be radically reduced.

Whether you realize it or not, this is war.  When we draw Mohamed today, we don’t do so to be offensive, or provocative.  We do so to assert our identity and to declare, standing shoulder to shoulder with our fellow soldiers in this war, that we are Westerners dedicated to freedom of speech and freedom of worship.

In that spirit, and with all due respect to Muslim sensibilities (meaning I won’t draw Mohamed immersed in urine, covered in fecal matter, attached to animals, or any other such demeaning imagery), here is my image of Mohamed, pictured in this reverential medieval Islamic art as a swaddled baby on the day of his birth:

OTHERS BLOGGING:

Rhymes with Right

Looking for Lissa (who reminds us that Islamists aren’t averse to their own, very vile, cartooning to achieve political goals and intimidation)

Michelle Malkin

You can take the Hot Air poll (with numbers now currently strongly favoring Draw Mohamed Day)

James Hudnall

Brad Thor

Liberty Pundits (which has a nice nod to me, which I very much appreciate)

Mark Steyn

Facebook

And please re-read Broken Windows, which explains why standing up now is so very important

Robert David Graham

JoshuaPundit explains why he isn’t participating, and where our energies would be better spent

[Small update:  I've very lightly edited the post to get rid of verbal tics and redundancies.  They do tend to slip in.]

AP catches up with story about WH attempt to exclude Fox from the news cycle — and the nutroots respond accordingly

Twenty-four hours after the fact, the AP finally figured out that, maybe, just maybe, it’s worth reporting that the White House tried to freeze out a news organization that challenges it, and was stopped only because other news organizations realized that, if they let this one pass, they would forever be barred from voicing any hint of criticism of the White House.  While they may not now be able to imagine criticizing their God, they’re not so stupid that they wish to foreclose the possibility.  I’ve already praised them for their wise decision in my earlier post on the subject.  What I wanted to run here were some of the comments I saw at the San Francisco Chronicle, which has published the AP story at its website.

Just as an aside, its interesting that the AP chose to assign this story, not to a political writer, but to their television reporter.  Talk about reluctantly mentioning that your idol has feet of clay.  But anyway, here are some of the comments:

I can’t stand Faux, errr, Fox News, and I do like our president, but the White House better get it together.

In this country, we have freedom of the press and their access to our elected officials is of paramount importance.

***

Fox is a well funded mirror opposite of the Worker’s World. Half-truths, propaganda, and psy-ops. They should get the same “respect” and “certification” that the communist propaganda rags get: none.

***

This is childish behavior… you don’t like me, Fox, so you can’t play with me and my friends! It’s stupid, and only draws needless attention to Fox News.

***

The WH only needs to make itself available to reputable news outlets and not the Republican’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda :Fox.

***

Dude, get with the freedom of speech thing! When it benefits you, you typical dweebs alway cry this and that. Then when people ask a question you don’t like, you want to silence them like passing a law. The city of SF actually presented a law regarding the silencing of opposition from the media, but so much outcry happened even the board of stupidvisors relented. Why are idiots like you so afraid of being asked a pertinent question????

***

The biggest problem I have with Fox News (aside from the relentless stream of hateful invective and hysterical fearmongering) is that they continually present misleading and/or demonstrably false information (otherwise known as lies) as if it were true, wrapped up in the packaging of “news”.
This is highly unethical, it encourages confusion and misunderstanding amongst their audience, and I don’t even think it should be legal, much less profitable.

***

Is Fox News a news organization? Or would it better be called Fox Propaganda?

***

And we know how “fair and balanced” the MSM are:

Campaign donations, 2008
$297,187 was given by people who identified their occupation as “journalist”

$22,076 from 28 people to Republicans.
$275,111 from 312 people to Democrats.

http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?newest=1&type=occ&occ=journalist&search=Search

***

Why back down? Just exclude Faux News. They aren’t journalists, they are far right Republicans.

***

Everybody knows that 99% of Fox News is not news. It’s radical right wing Republican religious nut opinion and propaganda. And, it’s 100% anti-Democrat and anti-Obama. The hacks at Fox are just squawking because somebody finally called them on it. Those nut jobs are the face of the Republican party, and the very reason that only about 20% of Americans identify themselves as Republicans.

What’s so fascinating about those of the above comments that support the White House freeze-out is their absolute disdain for the notion of a free press — meaning free from government interference, control and censorship (and barring a news station from a press event is a form of censorship).  It occurs to none of them that it’s the marketplace of ideas, not the government (and certainly not the White House) that decides what’s news and what’s not.  Like the White House, they fear Fox and they want to destroy it.

I have to admit that I never watch the news on TV (I never get the chance), but I’m inclined to do so now, if only to make a point.  Or better, because watching TV at home is a very silent point, perhaps I’ll go over to the Fox website and click on every single ad, to show that Fox gets the business.

Quisling England *UPDATED*

The Brits turned Geert Wilders back at the border for daring to try to enter the country to show an anti-Islamic film.  Wilders isn’t too pure himself, since he advocates muzzling Islam, which just goes to show that Europeans fundamentally fail to understand free speech. (England once understood it, but a combination of leftism and fear seems to have wiped clean its memory banks.)

Free speech means you get to advance your view.  It also means that, if others don’t like your view, they get to challenge it with more speech.  What’s happening all over Europe, though, is that the only speech that is finding freedom is radical Islamic speech, with everything else collapsing in a craven heap before it.

UPDATE:  Power Line gives a little context on Wilders’ own demand for book banning:

Much has been made of Wilders view that the Quran should be banned in the Netherlands. But, as Diana West has explained, Wilders’ position must be understood in the context of existing hate speech laws in that country, which ban Mein Kampf for its incitement to violence and hatred of Jews. Since the Quran contains incitements to violence and hatred of non-Muslims, Wilders contends that, under the same hate speech laws, the Quran should be banned as well. This seems like a reasonable interpreration of an unreasonable law.

How to say “I’m a coward” in 98 words

The director of the BBC has finally admitted that, yes, of course the BBC treats Islam with unusual deference.  Mark Thompson offers a 98 word defense of the BBC’s un-evenhanded approach:

‘My view is that there is a difference between the position of Christianity, which I believe should be central to the BBC’s religion coverage and widely respected and followed.

‘What Christian identity feels like to the broad population is a little bit different to people for whom their religion is also associated with an ethnic identity which has not been fully integrated.

‘There’s no reason why any religion should be immune from discussion, but I don’t want to say that all religions are the same. To be a minority I think puts a slightly different outlook on it.’

Right.

Ben Elton, a comedian who took umbrage at the BBC’s oh-so-PC censorship, had a different take on the matter (emphasis mine):

‘I think it all starts with people nodding whenever anybody says, ‘As a person of faith …’,’ he said.

‘And I believe that part of it is due to the genuine fear that the authorities and the community have about provoking the radical elements of Islam,” he said.

‘There’s no doubt about it, the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass. They might pretend that it’s, you know, something to do with their moral sensibilities, but it isn’t. It’s because they’re scared. I know these people.’

Free speech for me, but not for thee

A righteous Andrew McCarthey puts together in a single place what astute observers have long known:  Obama is an active enemy of Free Speech.  Using tried and true Leftist tactics, including coopting sympathetic officials in the current administration, Obama and his team are doing everything they can to stifle speech.

It’s just the beginning of the curve, of course.  But when you get to the end of the curve, you have the former Soviet Union, which routinely saw the Communist powers-that-be get voted into office by an amazing 99% of the citizens.  (And I’m sure the other 1% enjoyed their comfortable stay in a Gulag of the government’s choice.)

EU’s liberal fascism strikes again

I won’t comment.  You know what I’m thinking:

They have amused us, angered us and sometimes – just occasionally – they have actually made us buy something.

But now the end could be in sight for adverts which use sex to sell after they came under the unforgiving gaze of Brussels.

And, this being the EU, it is not simply raunchy advertising that is in danger. Any campaigns which are deemed sexist might have to go.

That could mean an end to attractive women advertising perfume, housewives seen in the kitchen and men doing DIY.

The new rules on sexism and inequality in advertising come in a report by the EU’s women’s rights committee which has been adopted by the European Parliament.

It wants anything which promotes women as sex objects or reinforces gender stereotypes to be banned.

Such a move would send shockwaves through the industry.

It would probably prevent images of models – male and female – in a state of undress, even when they are advertising underwear.

You can read more here.

And I changed my mind.  I will add one comment.  I think we live in a sexually saturated society, and I’d like to see that change.  Having angry bureaucrats in Brussels, who have a victim mentality about women a la Gloria Steinheim, using massive government power to make that change really scares me.

Quick picks for Monday

I’m still happil figuring out all the bells and whistles on my new iPhone, so I’ll start off this Monday with a few quick picks:

No wonder Putin still dreams of the old Empire:  it turns out that, if the Soviet Union still existed, it would have left all the other countries int he dust when it came to medals.  (H/t:  SJ)

Looking at the two candidates purely as marketable products, consumer testing is not going too well for Obama.

Daniel Pipes explains that, no matter how often Obama (honestly) protests that he is not now a Muslim, Muslims worldwide nevertheless view him as one.  This fact is a wash, though.  While it may make some feel fonder of the US, it may make others even more hostile as an apostate leads Islam’s greatest enemy.

Speaking of Islam, yet another country turns into a Sharia experiment — which was immediately bad news for the 3,000 formerly upstanding non-Muslim citizens who became non-citizens at the stroke of a pen.  Dhimmitude is never a good thing for those in Dhimmi position.

Turns out that, all his protestations of “new politics” and “change” to the contrary, Obama is just another Chicago pol, handing out loose change — lots of it — to his friends.  In other words, his style of politics is as old as the hills.

Who knew that I’d find myself agreeing with Stanley Fish?  He’s right this time, noting that, as a technical matter, Random House’s decision to withdraw from publishing a book about Mohammed’s nine year old wife is not technically censorship.  Censorship comes from government.  However, Fish is wrong to strike such a strident tone on the point, since it allows him to avoid the obvious fact, which is that, while free speech around the Western world isn’t being governmentally censored into oblivion, it is nevertheless being terrorized into oblivion.  Perhaps it’s time to come up with a new phrase, that doesn’t allow people to hide behind legalisms to excuse what’s obviously happening at the hands of radical Islam worldwide:  “Terror Induced Silence?”  “The Sharia Shut-up?”  I don’t know.  Maybe you can think of something.

The National Review editors give a neat, one-paragraph rundown explaining why the Democratic party is one that either Truman or Kennedy would be unlikely to recognize.

Blogger censorship

Two of my favorite bloggers — Paragraph Farmer and Joshua Pundit — got “spam blocked.”  Their blogs are still accessible, but they can no longer post.

The way spam blocking works is that someone who doesn’t like the content on your Blogger-hosted blog clicks repeatedly on the little “spam” button up in the corner.  This flags Blogger that there’s bad stuff there, and Blogger then reviews the blog content to make sure it doesn’t violate company policies.

It sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?  You can see how it will be used to prevent people from using Blogger sites for pure commercial junk or, worse, form setting up sites that advocate pedophilia, that host child pornography, that organize assassinations, or that do other horrible and possibly illegal things.  What’s happening, however, is that liberals are trolling Blogger for conservatives sites and then harassing them by tagging them as “spam.”  Once this happens, the conservative blogger finds himself caught in a two or three day review process.  And if he’s away on vacation (God forbid) and can’t make a protest, the blog can vanish.

Patrick forwarded to me Blogger’ss form letter:

Your blog at: [site] has been identified as a potential spam blog.  To correct this, please request a review by filling out the form at [site].

Your blog will be deleted within 20 days if it isn’t reviewed, and you’ll be unable to publish posts during this time. After we receive your request, we’ll review your blog and unlock it within two business days. If this blog doesn’t belong to you, you don’t have to do anything, and any other blogs you may have won’t be affected.

We find spam by using an automated classifier. Automatic spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and occasionally a blog like yours is flagged incorrectly. We sincerely apologize for this error. By using
this kind of system, however, we can dedicate more storage, bandwidth, and engineering resources to bloggers like you instead of to spammers. For more information, please see Blogger Help:  [site]

Thank you for your understanding and for your help with our spam-fighting efforts.

Sincerely,

The Blogger Team

I’m all for fighting spam, but it’s horrible when people who oppose a non-extreme political ideology hijack a system to impose corporate censorship.  Blogger needs to come up with a better system.

And in a couple of days, be sure to check out Paragraph Farmer and Joshua Pundit, just to make them feel welcomed back into the blogosphere.

Be careful what you read

When I last traveled, I bought Larry Elders’ superb book Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card–and Lose. I promptly took the cover off, worried that I would be subject to harassment as a white woman reading a book entitled “Stupid Black Men” — never mind that the book was written by a black man, nor that it was a trenchant analysis of a political and social system that victimizes blacks — and that, sadly, blacks have bought into.

I thought that maybe I was being a little bit silly and paranoid, but I clearly wasn’t, if this story is anything to go by:

IN November, I was found guilty of “racial harassment” for reading a public-library book on a university campus.

The book was Todd Tucker’s “Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan”; I was reading it on break from my campus job as a janitor. The same book is in the university library.

[snip]

But that didn’t stop the Affirmative Action Office of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis from branding me as a detestable Klansman.

They didn’t want to hear the truth. The office ruled that my “repeatedly reading the book . . . constitutes racial harassment in that you demonstrated disdain and insensitivity to your co-workers.”

[snip]

[T]he $106,000-a-year affirmative-action officer who declared me guilty of “racial harassment” never spoke to me or examined the book. My own union – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – sent an obtuse shop steward to stifle my freedom to read. He told me, “You could be fired,” that reading the book was “like bringing pornography to work.”

[snip]

After months of stonewalling, the university withdrew the charge, thanks to pressure from the press, the American Civil Liberties Union and a group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE.

At American Thinker, where I first saw the story, Selwyn Duke adds a little more:

What Sampson fails to point out is that the affirmative-action officer is a black woman named Lillian Charleston. Oh, that’s not relevant? Sorry, but this is all about race. Mr. Sampson would never have been charged with racial harassment for reading a history book relating to the Klan were he not white; in fact, it’s hard to imagine such a charge being leveled against a black person for any reason, given the double standards in the academy’s politically correct environment.In case you’re considering a career in the vital and growing field of affirmative action and are wondering what credentials one must possess to become one of its storm troopers, here is Charleston’s bio:

Lillian Charleston is nationally recognized for her expertise and knowledge of Affirmative Action and related issues. In addition to serving as the Affirmative Action Officer for IUPUI for the past 16 years, she previously worked as a desegregation specialist for the Indianapolis Public Schools. She has been an officer and board member of the American Association for Affirmative Action and the Indiana Industry Liaison Group. She also supports her community through active board service with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Development Commission, the Indianapolis Urban League, the Indianapolis Chapter of Big Sisters, and the Association for Loan Free Education. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana University in Urban Studies, Counseling and College Student Personnel.

In other words, she specializes in grievance, social engineering, victimology and in what Rush Limbaugh has labeled get-even-with-’em-ism. To gain a little more insight into the mindset of this woman, read the letter she sent to Sampson about the charge:

Upon review of this matter, we conclude that your conduct constitutes racial harassment in that you demonstrated disdain and insensitivity to your co-workers who repeatedly requested that you refrain from reading the book which has such an inflammatory and offensive topic in their presence. You contend that you weren’t aware of the offensive nature of the topic and were reading the book about the KKK to better understand discrimination. However you used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your Black co-workers. Furthermore, employing the legal “reasonable person standard,” a majority of adults are aware of and understand how repugnant the KKK is to African Americans, their reactions to the Klan, and the reasonableness of the request that you not read the book in their presence.

During your meeting with Marguerite Watkins, Assistant Affirmative Action Officer [sic] you were instructed to stop reading the book in the immediate presence of your co-workers and when reading the book to sit apart from the immediate proximity of these co-workers. Please be advised, any future substantiated conduct of a similar nature could result in serious disciplinary action.

The thought police are out there, and they are educating your kids.  More than that, while you and I would have the maturity and savvy to counter this bullying insanity, our kids don’t.  They’re young, malleable and they want their degrees.  They are intellectual hostages to these thought tyrants and it’s utterly shameful.

The letter reveals something else that should be obvious, which is that the individual filing the complaint against Sampson was also black. And this is another example of the relativistic standard that is applied in these matters. In other words, in judging the case, the affirmative-action office didn’t analyze the action under the light of objective truth, but based on the feelings of a politically-favored individual, in this case an irrational one. That Sampson’s black co-worker felt aggrieved was justification enough to send out a lynching party.