None the Wiser

"Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think." --J.S. Mill

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Saturday, August 23, 2003
Men in White

Here's an interesting shot of Jew-hating thugs running around in white sheets with their faces behind masks, burning effigies of their enemies and hiding behind one of the three monotheistic traditions. Hint: it isn't the Klan. It's a far more serious bunch.

I find the similarity intriguing.

An interesting dilemma is this: The rally depicted in the linked article would be considered protected speech in the USA, though there are a lot of people who would prefer that it wasn't. The right, and most of the libertarian center, generally stands up for the freedom of racial provocatuers such as the KKK to march and hold rallies and so forth, even in Jewish neighborhoods.

I happen to agree that even this execrable form of expression is and ought to be protected by the US Constitution. The left, predictably, disagrees, since the offensive character of the expression in question does not find its source in some convergence of sacred Christian symbolism and human excrement.

A reversal of viewpoints takes place when we shift our attention to the West Bank. Leftists become indignant and even downright principled where the right to assembly is being siezed upon by Hamas, the PIJ, or anyone else who murders Israeli children for sport.

The right, meanwhile, loses its adamant devotion to the sanctity of free expression when the racial terrorists in question are Arabs hiding behind the Koran, rather than WASPs hiding behind the Bible.

So what's the answer? I'm not sure, but I think some of the relevant differences are as follows:

1- The US government does not actively fund and encourage the activities of the Ku Klux Klan.
2- The Klan is not (any longer) a serious political movement of any appreciable influence.
3- Hamas is rather commited to the slaughter of civilians and has proven itself so through recent, frequent, concrete acts of mass murder.
4- The PA has agreed, as a condition of Israeli concessions, to put a stop to "incitement" in the West Bank and Gaza, and has no Constitutional obligations one way or the other. It has never done so.
5- The conditions of civil society do not exist in a war zone, by definition.

There are others, but it's early and I'm just getting warmed up. The controversy here has only been hinted at to my knowledge, and I present it here only as food for thought. I should probably say also that even though the link I provided is for LGF, I really dislike Charles' practice of labeling such posts "Religion of Mass Murder."

(I know, it's meant to counter the constant protestations of Islamic apologists like Hussein Ibish that Islam is a "religion of peace," or even the "religion of peace." There are, ahem, fertile grounds for a rejection of such a claim, but I think his blanket characterization only gives ammunition to those critics who accuse him of bigotry, while alienating more than a few undecided readers. In any event, I still enjoy and recommend Charles' blog, and I regret that I have to routinely qualify my support for his work in this way. Charles, just a few degrees cooler, buddy...)

In other, more light-hearted news, I'm getting a puppy. A Beagle, preferably. We'll see how that goes, but the search begins today. I adore Beagles, and agree with Andrew Sullivan that they are very good for the soul. In fact, I prefer them to people, and it is a source of some consternation for me that they cannot be trained to work at the DMV.

Later, I'll give you dear readers an update on the first week of classes here in Indianapolis, and the depressing ritual of syllabus review.

Friday, August 22, 2003
Some Things Never Change...

...and I am unsurprised to find that the quality of Erin O'Connor's higher ed blog, Critical Mass, is among those things. This week, in case you didn't already know it (it is a bit presumptuous of me to provide links when I'm the one who's been out of the loop for three weeks), Erin has as a guest blogger Professor Frederick K. Lang.

Lang is one of many college educators who have found themselves on the business end of an academic witch hunt for daring to teach at a high level. The modern academy is in the Marxism advocacy business, and one predictable consequence is a revulsion among administrators and high-powered faculty for any practice which might reward hard work and talent over incessant bitching.

His series, Ignorance is Business, begins here. Check it out.

I'm Baaaack

I will consider it nothing less than a miracle if I ever get back the readership I had prior to my vacation. I never bothered to announce, formally, that I'd be gone for about two weeks. Well, I was. Terrible breach of good sense, I know, but once I was on the road, that was it. I haven't read a single shred of news or a single weblog in weeks.

I'm slowly easing back into the groove, but school started this week as well, so I have to be solicitous of my more serious duties. NTW will be back in full swing shortly, though, so fret not.

I spent the last two weeks in Jacksonville, Florida and Columbia, South Carolina. It's a bit of a long story, and not one anyone might be interested in who didn't actually take part in it, so I won't drone on about my visit home. I can't imagine anyone cares.

I did witness something memorable on the flight from Indianapolis to Charlotte.

An English family sitting close to me at the gates had been visiting a friend here. They had never seen the United States, and decided to takeup their old friend on his repeated offers to put them up for a visit.

The elder of the two children they had with them was a beautiful boy of about ten. He was wearing a Stars and Stripes bandana with evident pride.

When they boarded the plane and sat in the row behind me, they had a quick chat with a flight attendant, also originally from the UK as luck would have it. As I listened in to their conversation I overheard a muffled sobbing, and turned around to see the boy crying into his mother's chest. She was smirking and stroking his hair, whispering to him that it was OK. She looked up at me, smiled good-naturedly and said, "It's just dawned on him that we're really leaving America."

I smiled back, and returned to reading my book.

More later.