The Image We Need?

•2007.10.25 • Leave a Comment

Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca
A Muslim pilgrim has made the trek to Mecca.

I ran across a post on Redstate yesterday which seemed to rail quite harshly on the First Lady for pictures taken of her on a tour which led her through the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) yesterday and into Saudi Arabia today. The photographs that the poster is referring to are of her meeting with local women to announce a sweeping breast cancer awareness initiative involving doctors, researchers, and educators here in the U.S. and in the Arab world. This is an issue which touches the First Lady very deeply, as both her mother and grandmother had breast cancer.

Laura Bush was photographed with women wearing the traditional Muslim long overgarments called abayas (which cover all but the face, hands, and feet) along with the optional niqab (which covers the face and is also called a burqa). The poster criticizes the First Lady’s character strength for not refusing to be photographed with these women who were proving themselves to be less than equal to their male counterparts by wearing the traditional attire. The attire is not mandatory in the U.A.E., after all.

According to the poster:

But voluntary or no, this type attire is not common in the Islamic world, rather it is associated with a very particular strain of Islam. The strain that flew airplanes into the WTC and the strain that ruled Afghanistan.

Wow… just… wow. The poster may be well meaning, and is certainly well-read, but the ignorant and vitriolic propaganda is so thick in this statement that it’s no wonder the U.S. is losing popularity with the rest of the world. I don’t even know where to start picking it apart.

There is a spectrum in Islam, just as there is in Christianity, that goes between the very conservative (or traditional), to the very modern. Of course, just as some very conservative Christian women refuse to wear pants, many traditional Muslim women refuse to be in public without the niqab. Whether one may like it or not, this is a cultural issue, and not one of human rights. Asking these women to reveal their faces in these photographs would be even more contradictory to their culture than it would have been to ours if they refused to be pictured with her in pants and makeup. How uncomfortable were these women being pictured with Ms. Bush’s fully exposed neck and form-fitting pants?

Since just the 1980’s, the mortality rate for breast cancer in the United States has dropped considerably. The reason is that awareness here has allowed women to talk about it, and to be screened for it. The issue is not only medical, it is cultural as well, and it is up to these women and their peers to change that. The attire depicted in these photographs here is common enough in the Islamic world that we have begun to associate it in the U.S. media with Islam. Perhaps these women are repressed by our standards, but we must not forget that our own culture has a very similar past. Change is not necessary in the eyes of these women, and it will certainly not occur due to statements like these.

Saying that these women come from the same “strain” of Islam that flew 747s into the Twin Towers is like saying that Pope Benedict XVI is from the same “strain” of Christianity that murdered thousands of Muslims during the Crusades. There is absolutely beauty in Islam if you care to look for it. If we insist on driving these constant wedges between our cultures, we will never begin to understand each other.


Redstate Red-faced Over Ron Paul Supporters

•2007.10.24 • Leave a Comment

The RedState blog has, in no uncertain terms, banned all shi‌lling of Ron Paul from its website as of Monday. Apparently, there has been a bit of backlash. Erick of Redstate speaks on the fan mail they’ve been receiving:

Most of them contain the F-word or claim some Zionist conspiracy, but dang if this one isn’t brilliant:

It is my understanding that you are banning Ron Paul Supporters from talking about him on your site on the grounds of “private property”. If this is the case and you are using your “private” site to subvert our constitutional right to free speech, thereby subverting our government, then you are crossing the line and acting treasonous. When we win, and we will, be sure there will be ramifications.

He goes on to say:

And yes, we’ve gotten well over 500 of these today.

It seems Ron Paul’s supporters have been drawing a good bit of ire from many sections of the Internet. Although Ron Paul does have a serious message and serious supporters, it also seems that his message and his impressive Internet marketing lasso has ensnared some of the less-sophisticated of the would-be Libertarians out there.

Is Libertarianism the new hippie? Since the hippies have all grown up and procured Senate seats, is there a new rebellion movement brewing out in the political scene that would make the vote something more complex than a left-right spectrum? Whereas the party has been around for decades, the reactions garnered by the outcry of its supporters has gone from an “Isn’t that cute?” reaction to a very palpable pain in the rump of both parties. It will be very interesting to see how Mr. Paul fares during this primary.

Stephen Colbert Storms the Polls

•2007.10.24 • Leave a Comment

Stephen Colbert announced his bid for the Presidency on October 16th in South Carolina, and already there are statistics in the news concerning his popularity.

In a poll of 1,000 “likely voters” taken by Public Opinion Strategies, Mr. Colbert took approximately 2.3 percent of the Democratic vote, placing him in fifth place, just behind Joe Biden (2.7 percent), and just ahead of Bill Richardson (2.1 percent). While he only took 1 percent of the Republican vote, he certainly made a splash in a quieting pool of traditional Presidential candidates. What are we to make of the “Colbert Effect”?

Would these people have voted similarly on Super Tuesday, without the comfort of knowing that they were input into a relatively meaningless poll? He has zero chance of winning the election if he is only registered in the single state of South Carolina, so what is the harm of voting for him? How seriously are people taking this?

A more insidious notion would be that people are beginning to become jaded with the electoral process, or perhaps those who have long since been jaded have a new outlet through which to express it. With the “hanging chads” debacle in 2000 and the recounts of 2004, are people beginning to come away with the opinion that their vote doesn’t really matter that much?

While the fact that Stephen Colbert is running is a simple ploy for comedic attention, it makes me wonder if he’ll do something with the attention he’s garnered besides use it to bump his Nielsen ratings in the short-term. I must admit that I am not extremely familiar with his comedy, but he certainly has the world’s attention. Are we growing sick of the constant back-and-forth between the Dems and Reps about the war, healthcare, and our kids’ education? Have we become so infatuated with celebrity that we opt to give these political asides a real shot? I suppose it worked for Ronald Reagan, Sonny Bono, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maybe if we read between the mockery, he’ll have something important to say.

A thanks and a tip of the hat to the Kansas City Prime Buzz blog.

La Raza Pulls 2009 Convention from Kansas City

•2007.10.23 • Leave a Comment

After some time of threats, hand-wringing, a vote, and the passage of a final deadline, the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization, pulled its 2009 convention out of Kansas City on Friday. The move is reportedly directly due to the fact that one Kansas City Parks & Recreation board member, 73-year-old Frances Semler, is also a member of the Minuteman project, a group who has in the past taken up arms to guard the Mexican border against illegal immigration.

The convention would have brought thousands of people to the city, and would have reportedly brought $5,000,000 to the local economy here. The NAACP is also reportedly now threatening to follow suit and relocate their upcoming 2010 conference. The organization delivered the deadline to Mayor Mark Funkhouser last month: she must either have stepped down from the parks board, or from the Minutemen. The mayor, however, did not move from his initial position that Ms. Semler had every right to be part of both organizations, although it was important to him to keep the convention in Kansas City.

I’ve done a fair amount of reading on Ms. Semler and this debacle, and have found no evidence that she has committed any illegal acts, nor have I run across any evidence that the Minutemen do. From what I understand, all positions on the board are appointed by Mayor Funkhouser and are not publicly elected positions. Does it matter that she is a member of the Minutemen if she does her job effectively as a commissioner on the parks board?

Immigration is an issue which exists between countries, not between races of people. The Minutemen advocate against illegal immigration, which amounts to upholding a set of United States federal laws. I’m sure some of them have extreme views, but haven’t we seen this in other venues as well?

Allow me to make it clear that I do not believe Ms. Semler to be a racist. I count two other black men serving on the board along with her… if race was an issue for her, don’t you think it would have manifested itself somehow before now? Simply for the sake of argument, let’s say we pulled her out of this situation and replaced her with the most pernicious racist you could think of. Is it not the spirit of American law that everyone gets a voice, and that all who are represented in the populace should be equally represented within the government? We have Christian lobbies, Muslim lobbies, and even Communist ones. I read once that the foremost paradox of the Freedom of Speech is that even those who would crush it are protected by it.

Since there are extreme Christians here in the KC metro area who view psychics as heretics (and I’ll bet we can find at least one in the ranks of municipal civil service), should the Psychical Research Society of Kansas City pull the Fall Psychic Fair from now on and move it somewhere else? The only difference here is that the NCLR had leverage, to the tune of dollar signs in the seven-digit range. There are relatively few psychics who achieve such notoriety and wealth.

Don’t get the impression here that this a race issue: this was about the NCLR throwing around its weight to achieve what it perceives to be a moral right. I cherish Ms. Semler in this city’s government and thank her for her service to this city, even if I may not agree with her every view. I also wish to convey a huge congratulations and thank you to Mayor Funkhouser (for what it’s worth) for standing up to intimidation against mounting criticism, and for not buckling under the crushing weight of the almighty dollar.

Our National Language

•2007.10.23 • Leave a Comment

I recently received this email in my inbox. It’s long, but bear with me:

Please forward to as many people as you know. WE NEED THIS INFORMATION PASSED ON TO EVERY RED-BLOODED AMERICAN!!!!!!

33 Senators Voted Against English as America’s Official Language June 6, 2007

On Wed, 6 June 2007 23:35:23 -0500, “Colonel Harry Riley USA ret” wrote:


Your vote against an amendment to the Immigration Bill 1348, to make English America’s official language is astounding. On D-Day no less when we honor those that sacrificed in order to secure the bedrock character and principles of America . I can only surmise your vote reflects a loyalty to illegal aliens.

I don’t much care where you come from, what your religion is, whether you’re black, white or some other color, male or female, democrat, republican or independent, but I do care when you’re a United States Senator, representing citizens of America and vote against English as the official language of the United States

Your vote reflects betrayal, political surrender, violates your pledge of allegiance, dishonors historical principle, rejects patriotism, borders on traitorous action and, in my opinion, makes you unfit to serve as a United States Senator… impeachment, recall, or other appropriate action is warranted.

Worse, 4 of you voting against English as America ‘s official language are presidential candidates: Senator Biden, Senator Clinton, Senator Dodd, and Senator Obama.

Those 4 Senators vying to lead America but won’t or don’t have the courage to cast a vote in favor of English as America’s official language when 91% of American citizens want English officially designated as our language.

This is the second time in the last several months this list of Senators have disgraced themselves as political hacks… unworthy as Senators and certainly unqualified to serve as President of the United States.

If America is as angry as I am, you will realize a back-lash so stunning it will literally rock you out of your panties… and preferably, totally out of the United States Senate.

The entire immigration bill is a farce… your action only confirms this really isn’t about America ; it’s about self-serving politics… despicable at best.

“Never argue with an idiot; they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ~ anonymous

The following senators voted against making English the official language of America :

Akaka (D-HI)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE) Wants to be President?
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Clinton (D-NY) Wants to be President?
Dayton (D-MN)
Dodd (D-CT) Wants to be President?
Domenici (R-NM) Coward, protecting his Senate seat…
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI) Not unusual for him
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA) Wanted to be President
Kohl (D-WI)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT) Disappointment here…..
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Obama (D-IL) Wants to be President?
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV) Senate Majority Leader
Salazar (D-CO)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-M)

“Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale, and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.”

~ President Abraham Lincoln ” Amen ”

Please forward to as many people as you know. WE NEED THIS INFORMATION PASSED ON TO EVERY RED-BLOODED AMERICAN!!!!!!

I just can’t tell for certain whether the person who originally authored this email is ignorant, or purely malevolent. I suspect the latter, and if that is the case, then this is one of the most egregious cases I have ever seen of someone in the know taking advantage of those of us who simply don’t have the time or the gumption to know any better. Since I was immediately suspect, I did a bit of research myself.

The only mentions of the words English in the analysis of the failed Senate Bill 1348 state that immigrants would be weighted by their ability to speak English for a merit-based immigration program, and that the English-language requirement would be dropped for immigrant applications aged 75 and older.

Since that wasn’t the bill they were looking for, I did some looking, and found this:

The vote that the email’s author is railing about is wrapped up in Senate bill 2611, not 1348. The juicy parts are in Amendments 4064 and 4073 to that bill. Amendment 4064 states that the United States government will not provide services in any language other than English for immigrants. It contains verbiage that says:

The Government of the United States shall preserve and enhance the role of English as the common and unifying language of America. Nothing herein shall diminish or expand any existing rights under the law of the United States relative to services or materials provided by the Government of the United States in any language other than English.

The list of Senators who voted against that bill comes from the vote on this amendment.

Amendment 4073 changed this bit to say that English should not only be the “national language” of the United States, but it should be the “common and unifying language of America”. It passed, and all Democratic Senators who voted on this amendment voted in favor of it. Wait a second… who are the Patriots and traitors supposed to be here?

Over 97% of Americans can read nowadays, due to the socialized (AAAH!) school system we have in place. Why is it that more and more of us are choosing not to?