“Muslim leaders want to curb ‘Islamophobia'”

From MSNBC.  Though they could start by working on their own people who give their faith a bad name, like the Saudis and their highly sectarian and provocative Wahabbism (a minority among the world’s Muslims), bin Laden and his ilk, get Ahmadinejad to tone it down a scooch, introduce those radical madrasa schools a little bit into the Reality-Based Community, stuff like that.

Then, just try to understand where “libertarian” Westerners are coming from: today’s Western Christianity and “post-Christianity” are built on the foundation of the Rennaissance of Classical pagan Greek and Roman culture, which was much aided by translations of Classics via the Muslim world at the height of its own culture.  As an Orthodox Christian, I see alot of problems with this too, but it’s there and it’s highly influential around the world now.

If the Islamic Conference just tries to beat countries over the head it doesn’t like with international law, they’re more likely to drive more countries into the U.S. camp, which largely disdains international law.  Then nobody benefits, as the Iraqis and Saddam Hussein have learned, and the Iranians may yet learn, sadly.

Maybe what they should do is work domestically, within countries, based on their own existing legal systems and parliaments.  Form “Anti-Defamation Leagues” in each country, like Jewish folks have in the U.S.

I personally have a growing problem with growing Muslim influence in the West, in particular the retrograde influence of Saudi / Wahabbist and other radical ideologies who take advantage of “liberal” Western immigration, speech, and publishing laws to oppose Western values, societies, and people’s lives and safety, and so-called honor killings (aka revenge vendettas).  But I oppose all false rhetoric, and favor critiques based only on truth.  In a Western country, if you can prove slander or libel in court, you can win some kind of award.  As for non-Muslim cartoonists or their publishers who violate Muslim rules, well, you shouldn’t just expect people who don’t belong to your religion to follow its rules, any more than Jews expect non-Jews to keep kosher; you have to inculcate genuine sensitivity.  We do that with White police; there’s no reason rational Muslim representatives can’t peacefully ask to meet with Western periodical publishers, etc., and help them voluntarily become more sensitive to your religion’s concerns, just like any other growing minority religion here.  But does a problem in Denmark have to provoke violence in Pakistan and the East Indies?  Is that reasonable?  Isn’t that just “Westophobia”?

OTOH, if you come to the West, you implicitly agree to the rough-and-tumble of Western democracy and political “dialogue,” which sometimes is “in your face” and offensive.  I oppose gratuitous, senseless offensiveness, but sometimes legitimate critique and questioning will offend, but in the end is helpful.  Where’s the rationalism and reasonableness of Medieval Islam, the cultural height of your civilization?  There were limits to potentially-scandalous criticism, but there was also literary give-and-take.  Embrace the best of your heritage; we’re supposed to embrace the best of ours as Westerners; challenge us to do so.

There’s productive confrontation, and there’s just unproductive point-scoring.  The latter feels good only for a short time, like self-gratification; the former can bring significant, permanent improvement for everybody concerned.  Ask American Jews and Blacks.

Insofar as “Islamophobia” is a “phobia,” it is an irrational fear, one not based in reality, and so in theory has a psychotherapeutic treatment and cure, even on a societal scale.  Outlawing it through the UN won’t cure it, only make it worse.  Treat the phobia, show it to be irrational and not based in reality.  What Westerners fear is terrorism, war, weapons of mass destruction, violence, unruly mobs, senseless property damage, intolerance, any real loss of rights or freedom or democracy, threats to their elected governments and to what they value in their own historic cultures, etc.  Is this unreasonable, irrational?  Don’t Muslims fear the same things?  Yet Westerners feel these things are being threatened by some people in the name of Islam, rightly or wrongly.  Help us out, please.

Then again, if all you’re going to be about is avenging 800 years of Western victories over Muslims, well then I guess it’ll be World War 3 and the end of everything.  Then the Promised One will come, and we’ll see who was right.  Is that it?  Do you want the same thing as American Fundamentalists, Armageddon?

Why can’t we both choose peace?

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Taking marriage seriously

Here’s to it!  As we Orthodox say, Many Years to them both!

That’s the thing about old-fashioned marriage: you presumed this was the person you were going to spend the rest of your lives with, and so you operated out of that presumption.  Now, as divorce spreads, that presumption weakens in alot of people, or so you hear.  That’s a problem, and it probably has an untold impact on our society.

I’m not talking about staying if there’s physical abuse or outright emotional torture going on.

It probably helps that these two are reasonably-devout Catholics.  Divorce wasn’t a sin in Catholicism (though remarriage while your ex-spouse is still alive is), but frowned upon, and relatively rare, rarer I think than in Protestantism.  I think still Protestants are more likely to divorce than Catholics, though divorce is spreading among Catholics.  Andrew Greeley might say that traditionally, Catholicism’s “social capital” helped reinforce its principles among its adherents: neighborhood, parish, church, school, organizations (Knights of Columbus, Ajax Ladies, Ancient Order of Hibernians, etc.), back then even parish quasi-banks.

For Catholics traditionally this wasn’t really a “doctrinaire” approach like for “family values” Protestants today, it was just their religious culture.  As a Greeley character put it, tongue mostly in cheek, “Homicide, maybe. Divorce, never!”

I’d have to do more homework, but I’m not sure the vaunted increase in Catholic annulments of marriages in recent years is a percentage increase.  Their population numbers have grown in step with the nation’s population – they’ve been steadily approximately a quarter of the population for a century or more.  Have annulments outpaced population growth?  Or has there really been no change in the rate of annulments, just that the numbers have now grown so large?  Remember, despite their minority status here, the U.S. is one of the biggest Catholic countries in the world, up there with Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines….

Poorest not eligible for Stimulus money

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not count as qualifying income for the stimulus payment.”

What’s wrong with this picture?  Economists say $600 or $1200 will most likely stimulate the economy (as much as it will at all, which is not much) in the hands of the poorest.  For those with higher incomes, it’s no big deal, “pin money” as it used to be called.

Of course, this isn’t a real Economic Stimulus Package.  It’s an Incumbent / Republican Election Package.  And alot of the poorest don’t vote.  Wonder why?  😐

Impeach ’em all for bribery!

President-elect?

McCain is prancing around the world like he’s already won the general election, not just one party’s primaries.  Does he know something we don’t?  Is the fix already in, just like Jeb “promised to deliver Florida” to W. in 2000, and that e-voting corporation / GOP donor guy decided to “deliver” Ohio to him in ’04?  What’s been done to restore democracy to America?: Nothing I’m aware of!  Does nobody care?!!  Congress?  The States?  The Democratic Party?  (And I’m the monarchist around here!)

What needs to be done?: Simple, hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public.

Passportgate

Outsourcing leads to non-government employees having access to citizens’ confidential information.  Surprise, surprise.  Direct result of government privatization.  Let’s put government back in the hands of government accountable to the people!  Who are contractors accountable to?

It wouldn’t surprise me if these “contractors” were GOP contributors.

A software idea

Ever hear your hard drive spinning and spinning and spinning for no known reason?  No system tray icon, no active video game or download (apparently), no other programs starting up?  Could it be malware?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to ask your computer, in effect (if not in actuality!), “Why’s the hard drive spinning right now?”

You’d think that the Windows Task Manager (talking XP here) could tell you this info, but right now I’ve got 58 “processes” going.  Is it one of these, or something ‘invisible’?!!  For that matter, are all these legitimate?!!!

I guess such a program would get the drive spinning itself, so maybe what you’d actually have to say is, “Why was it spinning N seconds / minutes ago?”  Or better, “What has caused / is causing spinning in the last N minutes?”  Most programs, when just sitting there waiting for input or whatever, don’t keep spinning the HD; this is why I’m concerned.

Is this too complicated?

And then you look up the questionable program, etc., and panic! 😉

The cause of clergy sex abuse

Power. That’s all.  Not liberalism, homosexuality, or in Catholics’ case, mandatory celibacy (or Vatican II).  Many have been married, Straight-identified, and conservative … and it’s been going on the whole time, long before the ’60s.

Makes sense when you think about it.  What causes it in the workplace, government offices, businesses, clubs and organizations, locker rooms, POW camps (Abu Ghraib), etc.?

There’s no denying that it’s especially disheartening when it’s people who spend their lives (and our money) telling us to control ourselves – or telling others to control themselves.  That’s why it’s called scandal – it tempts you to throw in the towel on your faith or virtue or morality, or makes you feel confirmed if you already have done so for other reasons.