January 21 - 27, 2007

This column will provide links to, plus quotes and summaries of, on-line articles that might be of interest to the Infidel community. Because theinfidels.org is concerned with educational issues, the articles selected will help to inform and enlighten readers as well as entertain them. In order to conform to "fair use practices," only small segments of the articles will be quoted. One caveat: to read the entire linked article, readers may have to subscribe to on-line versions of newspapers or magazines.

Let's begin with a book review of new, twisted social commentary by Dinesh D'Souza, at Stanford University, who blames the events of 9-11 on left-leaning liberals. From the NY Times:

I never thought a book by D’Souza, the aging enfant terrible of American conservatism, would, like the Stalinist apologetics of the popular front period, contain such a soft spot for radical evil. But in “The Enemy at Home,” D’Souza’s cultural relativism hardly stops with bin Laden. He finds Ayatollah Khomeini still to be “highly regarded for his modest demeanor, frugal lifestyle and soft-spoken manner.” Islamic punishment tends to be harsh — flogging adulterers and that sort of thing — but this, D’Souza says “with only a hint of irony,” simply puts Muslims “in the Old Testament tradition.” Polygamy exists under Islamic law, but the sexual freedom produced by feminism in this country is, at least for men, “even better than polygamy.” And the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement that the West has a taboo against questioning the existence of the Holocaust, while “pooh-poohed by Western commentators,” was “undoubtedly accurate.” Unlike President Bush, who once said he could not understand how anyone could hate America, D’Souza knows why Islamic radicals attack us. “Painful though it may be to admit,” he admits, “some of what the critics or even enemies say about America and the West ... may be true.” Susan Sontag never said we brought Sept. 11 on ourselves. Dinesh D’Souza does say it.
Dreadful things happened to America on that day, but, truth be told, D’Souza is not all that upset by them. America is fighting two wars simultaneously, he argues, a war against terror abroad and a culture war at home. We should be using the former, less important, one to fight the latter, really crucial, one. The way to do so is to encourage a split between “radical” Muslims like bin Laden, who engage in jihad, and “traditional” Muslims who are conservative in their political views and deeply devout in their religious practices; understanding the radical Muslims, even being sympathetic to some of their complaints, is the best way to win the support of the traditionalists. We should stand with conservative Muslims in protest against the publication of the Danish cartoons that depicted the Prophet Muhammad rather than rallying to the liberal ideal of free speech. We should drop our alliance with decadent Europe and “should openly ally” with “governments that reflect Muslim interests, not ... Israeli interests.” And, most important of all, conservative religious believers in America should join forces with conservative religious believers in the Islamic world to combat their common enemy: the cultural left.

Read the complete article here...

A topic that "hits home" for me, with the plans for the Bush library at Southern Methodist University under attack not only from the faculty but now from a group of faithful Methodists. From the Dallas Morning News:

But Mr. Bush did seek Thursday to quell recent complaints from SMU professors who have expressed concerns on plans for a public policy institute that has been likened to the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

"I understand there are some who have reservations, and my admonition to them, or my advice to them is, just understand that a library and institute would enhance education. It would be a place for interesting discussion," Mr. Bush said in an exclusive television interview with the Belo Capital Bureau.

Petition organizers say some of Mr. Bush's actions, such as invading Iraq, detaining prisoners without a trial and authorizing the use of torture, violate Methodist beliefs. Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush are Methodists.

"As United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate," reads the petition, which is posted at protectsmu.org.

Read the Dallas News article here...

Trouble at Harvard over including a required course on religion in its general undergraduate curriculum. The science faculty rebelled. Glad I'm not in the midst of this political fray, the record of which is at the MSNBC web site:

In October, the task force issued an innocent-enough proposal. Given the prominence of religion in the world today, all students should be required to do coursework in an area called "Reason & Faith." "Religion is realpolitik, both nationally and internationally," the report said. "By providing [students] with a fuller understanding of both local and global issues involving religious faith, the courses are intended to help students become more informed and reflective citizens."

Criticism was loud and immediate—and came largely from the science faculty. "There is an enormous constituency of people who would hold that faith and reason are two routes to knowledge. It is a mistake to affirm that," says Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker. "It's like having a requirement in 'Astronomy & Astrology.' They're not comparable topics."

Read the complete article here...

Another topic covered on MSNBC is the alliance between scientists and evangelicals on global warming:

Jan. 17, 2007 - A group of 28 scientists and evangelical Christians today announced their commitment to working together to address global and environmental climate change--an issue that they say is pressing enough to trump any theological differences between the groups. Eric Chivian, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, is one of the scientists leading the collaboration. In an interview with NEWSWEEK’s Samantha Henig, Chivian discussed the origins of this peculiar union, what the two groups have in common, how the evangelical Christian community can help scientists and the spiritual significance of his fruit garden.

Read the MSNBC article here...

From freethinking author Susan Jacoby, on how women are still bound by the "chains of religion." Her statement appears in an ongoing blog about religion, hosted by Newsweek and the Washington Post:

As a freethinker and a feminist, I have always found it baffling that women, as a group, are more religious than men. Every public opinion survey reveals this "faith gap" between the sexes, in spite of the fact that the world's major religions have treated women as inferior beings throughout most of human history.

Feminism, in both its 19th and 20th century incarnations, was correctly viewed by conventional religious institutions as a threat to the male privilege supposedly decreed by God. In 1885, Elizabeth Cady Stanton delivered a major speech, before a convention of Christian suffragists, on the many ways in which women had been denigrated by religion and had internalized the low opinion of the female sex promulgated by ministers and theologians.

Stanton's views on religion ensured that she would be written out of women's history for nearly a century, until the second wave of 20th-century feminists rediscovered her and helped restore her to her rightful place as the founding mother not only of the suffragist movement but of the larger drive for women's social and economic rights.

Read the entire article here...

And following-up on the topic of women and religion, here is an important opinion from the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle, as we near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (Jan. 22):

Our lawmakers pump an incredible amount of funding into pregnancy "crisis centers" whose primary purpose is to deter women from having abortions -- despite the fact that staff have been documented providing false and misleading information. At the same time, drug treatment programs for pregnant and parenting women in many parts of the United States lack the funding they need to stay open or to meet the pressing demands for their services. Increasingly, women with untreated drug or alcohol problems are being targeted for arrests based on the claim that pregnant women can be considered child abusers even before they have given birth. This is happening even though every leading medical organization to address this issue -- including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists -- has concluded that the problem of alcohol and drug use during pregnancy is a health issue best addressed through education and community-based family treatment, not through the criminal justice system. It's happening even though threat-based approaches have been shown to deter pregnant women -- not from using drugs, but rather from seeking prenatal care and what little drug-and-alcohol treatment may be available to them.

Despite this, a low-income pregnant drug-using woman in Amarillo, Texas, who would have several pregnancy crisis centers to choose from -- would find that there is not a single drug treatment program that provides care to pregnant and parenting women within 100 miles. Which means that her best option for avoiding arrest would be having an abortion.

Read the full Chronicle article here...

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