Thursday, November 30, 2006

Islam and Women's rights: Today it is the Right that has latched on to women's rights.

Pamerla Bone writing in The Austrialian about a conference in New York of Muslim Women you won't find covered in our MSM.
Maryam Namazie, a British-based human rights activist, said recently: "Debating the issue of women's rights in an Islamic context is a prescription for inaction and passivity, in the face of the oppression of millions of women struggling and resisting in Britain, the Middle East and elsewhere. Anywhere they (Islamists) have power, to be a woman is a crime."

Namazie is of the Left. She is the director of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran's International Relations Committee and has been named British secularist of the year. But in general, she notes, the Left, the traditional defender of human rights, is silent about the oppression of Muslim women. The reasons are that political Islam is seen as anti-imperialist, racism is these days much worse than sexism and minorities are automatically to be supported. (Some minority; Islamism is the strongest and fastest-growing ideology in the world.) Change must come from within, say the good liberals. Strangely, no one said that about South Africa's apartheid system.

Today it is the Right that has latched on to women's rights. John Howard was an unlikely feminist until various sheiks began expounding their theories about women's role in society. It was only when Osama bin Laden became a threat that George W. Bush started talking about the freedom of Afghan women. No one cared about the Taliban when all they were doing was oppressing the female half of the population.

Given that a half-billion Muslim women are not going to abandon their faith, the only way they can be liberated is for Islam and women's rights to be reconciled. That is why all power and support - and maximum publicity - should be given to Muslim women reformers.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Archbishop Ncube: Zimbabwe is not a nation at war

More on Zimbabwe via Catholic News Service with a HT to Belmont Club,
Archbishop Ncube, who was in London to raise funds for an AIDS charity, blamed the crisis on the mismanagement of the country under Mugabe over the last seven years.

"Zimbabwe is not a nation at war," Archbishop Ncube said. "It used to be able to feed itself and its neighbors. Zimbabwe used to have one of the highest life-expectancy rates in Africa.

"And these figures cannot just be blamed on AIDS," he added.

He said the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front government, or Zanu-PF, was not investing in medicine to treat AIDS because it was "more interested in importing military aircraft from China than protecting (the) lives of its people."

"We remain in the grip of a dictator. ... We cannot compete for attention in a world fixated by events in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan and elsewhere. Yet we need the international community to maintain pressure on Zanu-PF now as much as ever before," he said.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sexuality and Religion: What's the Connection?: Pope's visit to Turkey

Sexuality and Religion: What's the Connection?: Pope's visit to Turkey

Above Rev Deb's post on Benedict's (B16's!) visit to Turkey. I think B16 is putting Liberal-Religous to shame arguing cases we should be fighting.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Litvinenko's statement: May God forgive you

I knew the US would be tested after the elections with bombings in Iraq, but Litvinenko's and Gemayel's murders creating a perfect storm.

Here's Litvinenko's final testament via IHT,
But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death. I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like. I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.

You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.

You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value.

You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilized men and women.

You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.
xp Bill Baar's West Side

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Abortion and Gay Marriage

A post over at the group blog Illinoiz devoted to Illinois Politics....

Not excatly Illinois but these are issues that impact rebuilding the GOP in this State.

A while back, Lexington in the Economist wrote A heretical proposal why overturning Roe v Wade could be good for Democrats.
The main reason, alas, why Democrats will stick by Roe is simply because it is a totem in the culture wars. Why should pro-choice forces surrender any ground? That argument makes sense if you want to defend “choice” right into the ninth month, as some zealots do. But for most Democrats who merely want to keep abortion legal under most circumstances, that right would be more secure if it carried democratic legitimacy.

Embracing the democratic process would send a powerful signal that the Party of the People has rediscovered its faith in the people. Relying on judges to advance the liberal agenda allowed conservatives to seize the mantle of populism. Roe has given Republicans a free ride: they can claim to oppose abortion in the comfortable knowledge that it will never be banned. But imagine if Roe were overturned. How many Republicans would vote for a ban on abortion that only one in five Americans support? The conservative coalition would be split asunder.
Democrats still clinging to the totems when it comes to abortion, and (and with same sex marriage in Mass where they're fighting putting it on the ballot), but Barone blog explains how the South Dakota vote (prompeted I'd wager by having Alito and Roberts on the court) has removed abortion as a litmus test issue,
Prolifers should learn from South Dakota that they aren't going to be able to ban abortion entirely, at least not in any but a few small places. Prochoicers should be noticing that the restrictions that legislatures have been placing on abortion do not prevent abortions from being generally and widely available. Voters even in South Dakota have shown themselves unwilling to agree with prolifers that abortion is morally entirely unacceptable. But voters who have supported restrictions on abortion have shown themselves unwilling to agree with those prochoicers who consider the provision of abortion an unalloyed moral good. The status quo is not acceptable to the rigorous purists among us, and is probably not entirely congenial to most of us. But it seems to be acceptable to the great majority. And so it may be that the abortion issue will be less of a motive force, on both sides, in our politics.
The Republican-Conservative consensus on the social issues should on Scalia's comment,
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia railed against the era of the "judge-moralist," saying judges are no better qualified than "Joe Sixpack" to decide moral questions such as abortion and gay marriage.
For me, that's the conservative principle worth fighting for. The lesson for the GOP in Illinois is taking these issues to the voters means first of all not demonizing the opponents and next realizing when the majority decides moral issues; we're going to get middling-resolutions. They may not be particularly moral resolution but unless you're arguing putting these decisions back into the hands of judges, it's going to be the best you can get.

I'd stick with Justice Scalia and put my trust in the people of Illinois.

xp Illinoiz

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Zimbabwe: This cull is not an act of God.

From the Independent via NormsBlog,
The World Health Organisation has plotted this precipitous fall in women's mortality in the former British colony from 65, little more than a decade ago, to today's low. Speaking privately, WHO officials admitted to The Independent that the real number may be as low as 30, as the present figures are based on data collected two years ago.

The reasons for this plunge are several. Zimbabwe has found itself at the nexus of an Aids pandemic, a food crisis and an economic meltdown that is killing an estimated 3,500 people every week. That figure is more than those dying in Iraq, Darfur or Lebanon. In war-torn Afghanistan, where women's plight has received global attention, life expectancy is still above 40.

This cull is not an act of God. It is a catastrophe aggravated by the ruthless, kleptocratic reign of Robert Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980. The Mugabe regime has succeeded in turning a country once fêted as the breadbasket of Africa into a famished and demoralised land deserted by its men of working age, with its women left to die a silent death.
And from Micahael Quinlin on the shift in meaning of the word Cull.
So cull has shifted sense from “selection of the best” to “mass disposal”. Not a good move, you may feel.
Well, the new meaing fits this story.... a mass disposal this is. A disposal we in the west indifferent too, and no act of the Gods for sure.

xp Bill Baar's West Side

Sunday, November 12, 2006


We went last night and walked out after the first third. I hope these people successful with their law suit. It was a cruel movie.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Reflection's Alfie Question: How Many Gods?

She doesn't allow comments, so....
Question: "In a room of 300 Unitarian Universalists, such as we are today , how many gods are in this room?"

One. Light comes in many and varied forms, so that we may see according to our needs, predispositions, and cultural conditioning. The problem comes when we think that the shape of our God needs to be the shape of everyone else's God.
But she's lobbing a slow pitch to the faithful here. Ratzinger beat her to the punch anyways.

Forget counting Gods. We'll find that answer for certain. It's the Demons we fight. They're real, abundent, and for certain.

Homeless in Springfield

I know an empty mansion Mayor Davlin could use.

From Illinois Times via the Unitarian Universalist blog: Z's Journal of Thoughts,
“They [homeless] are good for the politicians and the politics in this town,” she says. “It gives them something to talk about.”

“The mayor, the City Council, and the powers that run the city get together, conjure up grand ideas with big words, and throw money to study the problem. They then publish it in the newspaper and pat themselves on the back about how they are solving homelessness.”
xp Illinoiz

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lakoff, Hofstadter, and Rev McTigue at coffee hour

An email to a fellow UU following a chat about Lakoff at coffee hour yesterday.
We chatted about Lakoff yesterday? I'm having a hard time matching names and email addresses.

Here is a link to the column on Lakoff by Jesse Walker in Reason Magazine. Here's the key quote for me,

It would be interesting to see some real research on the relationship between political and family values, and perhaps some day some admirer of Lakoff will confirm, refute, or complicate the correlations the linguist has extrapolated from James Dobson's childrearing manuals. For now, we're left with an elaborate variation on the ancient libertarian joke that Republicans want the government to be your father, Democrats want the government to be your mother, and libertarians want to treat you as an adult. Except that Lakoff's frame doesn't have room for the third option, or for any variations of the left or right that call the parental metaphor into question.

I feel like were being hoodwinked by a guy replaying an old joke and dropping the punch line on us because the reality is everyone wants the government to treat them as adults.

Here is the link to E. J. Dionne's column on David S. Brown's "Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography". Let me quote what I find the key point and a profound failure that's contributed to the decline of Liberalism, both politically and theologically.

Many progressives and reformers, he argued, represented an old Anglo-Saxon middle class who suffered from "status anxiety" in reaction to the rise of a vulgar new business elite. Hofstadter analyzed the right wing of the 1950s and early 1960s in similar terms. Psychological disorientation and social displacement became more important than ideas or interests.

Now, Hofstadter was exciting precisely because he brilliantly revised accepted and sometimes pious views of what the populists and progressives were about. But there was something dismissive about Hofstadter's analysis that blinded liberals to the legitimate grievances of the populists, the progressives and, yes, the right wing.

The late Christopher Lasch, one of Hofstadter's students and an admiring critic, noted that by conducting "political criticism in psychiatric categories," Hofstadter and his intellectual allies excused themselves "from the difficult work of judgment and argumentation."

Lasch added archly: "Instead of arguing with opponents, they simply dismissed them on psychiatric grounds."

That's the danger I find with Lakoff's kind of analysis. It's not empirical as Walker points out and simply offers a way to avoid the difficult work of judgement and argumentation of issues by just grouping people as nurturers and authoritarians (which side are you on?).

I stumbled on a glaring example of it with Rev McTigue from the UU Church in Hartford. She was on O'Riley talking about a bill board she and others had purchased in Hartford accusing Sen Lieberman of Torture.

O'Riley asked her define torture and she said she didn't know what it was. Then O'Riley asked her should captured combatants --who are fighting outside the Geneva Convention rules-- be held to the convention requirement of only having to disclose name, rank, and serial number. If there was more that could be asked of them? If there was more that could be coerced and if so, how?

She admittedly had no answer on these questions. She said that and then rambled about what Jesus would do. Which was also vague but it sure sounded like Jesus would be a nurturer and not an authoritarian.

I found her appearance a hugely embarressing failure to articulate a position on a serious issue. (She also wore a clerical collar I wish should would have chucked!) She just avoided the difficlut work of arguing her case.

William Safire wrote early on about the conflicts between Rumsfeld and Gonzales (then a White House counsel) as they argued the same issue early on. They anticipated getting POWs for whom the Geneva Convention wouldn't apply and the issue became what is torture (something wrong that we cannot do) and what is permissible coercive interrogation which is something we can do to those captured fighting outside the rules of war in the convention (if we chose too, maybe we should just hold them to name, rank, and serial number).

The administration undertook a hard debate our own Rev McTigue has failed to sort out herself years later.

It speaks so poorly for us that we're silent or worse: we protest yet have no answers to hard, but straightforward questions.