Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad at Columbia

As Ortho Opinions has formally endorsed Fred Thompson, I might as well begin my comments on the sad event by quoting in its entirety Thompson's press release on it:

Columbia University gave a public forum today to a tyrant to spread his lies and deceit. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a mockery of free speech by standing in front of an auditorium of academicians and students and denying the existence of the Holocaust and his deadly intentions toward Israel.

I find it ironic that Iran's president accepted an invitation to speak at Columbia University, since students who dissent on Iranian campuses are not met with debate, they are met by a gun and imprisonment. A few months ago, eight college students were imprisoned in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for publishing articles and cartoons critical of Iran's government in a student-run newspaper. The Evin facility has been described as Iran's 'most feared prison' and is known to stone women to death. We need to do our best to empower freedom-loving people throughout Iran.

After giving a one word answer to a question after his speech to the NRA, Thompson waggishly observed that having rejoined the ranks of the politicians he was expected to say more. Well bloggers are even more longwinded than politicians, so I'd like to continue in the vein of Thompson's remarks:

One wonders what other luminaries Columbia plans to give a public forum to:

Since Holocaust denial seemingly is not beyond the pale when it comes to invitations from Columbia, will David Irving be invited to give a lecture? Perhaps he could even be offered a post in the Department of History.

Since killing homosexuals seemingly is not beyond the pale when it comes to invitations from Columbia, will Jimmy Swaggart get an invitation? Perhaps he and Imam Arshad Misbahi of Manchester, England could be invited to lead a symposium on the subject. (Or is the mere theoretical advocacy of killing homosexuals somehow less tolerable than actually putting the policy into practice?)

I mention these two only because they are positions Ahmadinejad has endorsed, which were it discovered that some other invited speaker, hailing from the U.S. or some white Commonwealth country, say, endorsed, would lead to the cancellation of the speech, abject apologies to offended student groups, and perhaps the resignation of a token administrator or two, or at least would on most American campuses.

In the fever-swamps of the academic left, many of Ahmadinejad's other positions--that Israel is evil and should be destroyed, that American soldiers are tools of imperialism and should be killed, that President Bush is to blame for terrorism, or himself should be considered a terrorist, and the like--are commonly shared and thought a sign of enlightened opinion. One wonders whether these positions are thought so very enlightened that if one holds them, denying the Shoah and (at least tacitly) acceeding to the judicial murder of homosexuals can be overlooked as meer quirks.

More likely, Ahmadinejad was invited in spite of his odious positions because he is a Muslim--one of the barbarians du jour in the long tradition in the West of denigrating of the benefits of civilization in favor of the 'authenticity' of barbarism that stretches from Tacitus to Rousseau to the Romantics to today's multiculturalists. In which case, hold the invitations to Irving and Swaggart: their Holocaust denial and 'homophobia'* are inauthentic, products of Western culture, proof of it's evil, oppressive nature. Not like Ahmadinejad's vibrant, authentic, non-Western Holocaust denial and homophobia, these, one supposes are expressions of the true, peaceful nature of Islam we keep hearing so much about lately.

*A stupid word: 'Homophobia' from the Greek, meaning fear of sameness. Shouldn't it really be 'homoerotophobia'? I mean folks with homoerotic attractions dislike being called 'homos' almost as much as being called 'poofters' or 'faggots'. Why do they want the word for irrational fear or hatred of them to only mean what they want it to if they are called 'homos'?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Cross, the Crescent, and the Glories of This World, II

In considering what to write on the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I found I was unable to improve on what I had written last year, save by updating it and making it more concise:

"To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to whomever I please."

Last year in an online political discussion forum, another Orthodox Christian poster raised the question of why Islam is the fastest growing religion on earth. The answer I proposed makes the words of the Evil One to Our Lord as reported in St. Luke's Gospel, a fitting starting point for a meditation on this, the sixth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001:

. . .at a material level, birthrate; at a noetic level, Islam is a nearly perfect demonic lie consonant with the interests of the prince of this world--it mingles appeals to all of the eight grievous vices catalogued by St. John Cassian (lust and gluttony in Mohammed's picture of 'paradise'; lust, wrath, and avarice in its promise of war-spoils; sloth in its fatalism; and pride, self-esteem, and (since they started losing to the West) envy in their haughty concern for every imagined slight to Islam or their 'prophet') with little fragments of true piety copied from our Orthodox traditions (prayer five times a day is the hours and compline, prostrations in prayer, women covering their heads).

The present conflict, begun in earnest with America's sudden awakening on that September morning six years ago, to the fact that terrorism is not a mere crime, but an act of war, has its origins not in the truths of Islam--that there is but one transcendent God, that we ought fall down before the One God, that we ought pray daily--but in the vices woven into its fabric asserting themselves once again. Envy and pride drive the leaders of the terrorists, who hide, cowering in caves from the new-wakened might of the West, even as lust for virginal 'houris' is dangled as a prize for the self-immolating cannon-fodder of the jihad.

But the devil's words should give us pause. That we have the material glories of economic power and military might, which is the envy of our enemies, outward symbols of which were the targets of that attack, should not be the ground of our hope for victory. ". . .I give it to whomever I please," the Evil One declared. While he is a liar from the beginning, the lie in the tempations of Our Lord was buried deep in, the surface meaning of the words spoken by the Evil One in each case was true. Material glory belongs to this world, which is passing away, and to the prince of this world. The seeds of cowardice sewn by the Evil One in the minds of our countrymen may yet blossom in a victory for Islam, or we ourselves being victorious, we may become even more convinced to our own ruin of the American fallacy that we, rather than God's providence, are responsible for our lives.

It is well for those of us on the New Calendar that a mere three days after this anniversary is the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross.

"O God, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance, granting to Thy people victory over all their enemies, and by Thy Cross preserve Thine estate,"

the democratized version of the troparion runs. Singing it now, with barbarian enemies assailing Christendom once again, surely feels much as it did when the words ran, ". . .granting to our believing Kings victory over all their enemies. . ."

Let us remember that the True Victory by which death and the demons and this world were overcome was wrought on the Cross, "[the] weapon of peace, [the] trophy invincible" as another hymn terms it; that victories over the barbarians who beset us now must partake of that Victory in some way, lest they prove to be gifts of the Evil One and worse than defeat; that true victories may look like the Cross, or the Field of Kosovo, or the field near Shanksville, PA.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fred Thompson for President

Ortho Opinions is pleased to announce its endorsement of Senator Frederick Dalton Thompson for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

Senator Thompson's public statements show a clear understanding both of conservative principles, 'grounded in human nature and the experience of the ages' to use his own phrase, and their importance to the continued liberty and well-being of America. While not satisfying those self-professed conservatives who have forgotten the experience of the ages that human beings are imperfect, Senator Thompson's record in the public service evinces confidence that he has the intent and ability to enunciate those principles clearly on the campaign trail and to put them into practice once elected.

He brings to the campaign a savvy sense of 'the new media' and its potential, speaking to the American people directly, and at length about his convictions using YouTube and other video sites, from his witty repost to the odious Michael Moore, to his formal announcement of his candidacy released earlier today. His delayed entry into the campaign shows a sense of strategy straight from Sun Tzu, a sense of strategy which will be more even more important for a Commander-in-Chief than for a political candidate. His willingness to address entitlement reform, a 'third-rail' issue for most politicians, in the opening statement of his campaign is itself proof that he is willing to face tough challenges and make tough decisions for the good of the country.

From time to time, more statements of support for Senator Thompson's candidacy can be expected here.

In the meantime, readers who agree that Frederick Dalton Thompson should be the GOP nominee for President can donate to his campaign via the button at the top of the links section to the right.


Of Pork and Pavement

Encountering an editorial by Jesse Jackson absurdly attributing the failure of the I-35 W bridge in Minneapolis to the prosecution of the Iraq campaign in the 1400 Years War on the same day that, quite unaccountably, a street near my house, laid in concrete last year, was being torn-up to retop with asphalt, prompted some thoughts on the state of America's infrastructure.

The Reverend Jackson might be reminded that the 'peace dividend' in the days between the fall of the Soviet Union and 9/11 wasn't used to fix obsolete 1960's era bridges, despite the fondness members of Congress of both parties evince for 'bringing home the bacon' in the form of proverbial Washington pork. The fatuousness of attributing the decades-old neglect of maintenance on bridges to military operations less than five years in progress should be evident to anyone not suffering a terminal case of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Every member of Congress should promise that at least half of the 'earmarks' and other spending on behalf of the specific interests of their own constituents (or however they euphemistically describe porkbarrel spending to mask the vote-buying aspect of the practice and make it sound like a noble part of the governance of a democratic republic) will devoted to repair and updating of transportation and telecommunications infrastructure. If (as we can expect) there is no reining in of earmarks and other porkbarrel spending, and mirable dictu they all kept that promise, the problem of aging infrastructure would vanish within the decade.