The Loathly Lady

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Diplomad has returned. Happy news; he hasn't lost his bite. Yet, it isn't clear if this August 1st post signals his intention to return to frequent blogging. His many fans have longed for his unique commentary. The Diplomad's contribution was a major voice against the epidemic of worldwide irrationality.

Diplomad's lastest target focuses on poorly researched, media explanations for increased american immigration to Canada.

"I'll pretend I don't know why the headline wasn't the fact that some two and half times more Canadians move to the US than the other way around. "

Diplomad points out that this article attributes the cause for the immigration statistics from the 70s decade primarily to Vietnam draft dodgers fleeing to Canada. Unfortunately, the authors appeared to be confused over the dates of the draft.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Imams Attempt to Silence an Historical Warning

Ace of Spades discusses Imams’ threatening reaction to the Pope’s criticisms of Islamic sanctions of violence to further the case of Islam.

Yet, there is another possible motivation behind Islamic anger at the Pope’s censure of jihad. The Imams’ obvious efforts to counter criticism from an international leader are consistent with previous strategies to maintain control of public opinion of Islamic religious beliefs. Yet, their reaction could also be rooted in consternation that the Pope’s message quoted the emperor of the extinct Byzantine Empire. By doing so, the Pope highlighted an often forgotten historical memory to world attention.

While most Americans know little about the Byzantine Empire, it is significant that most Islamic leaders rarely mention the Byzantines, their important geographical predecessors, when referencing the history of the Middle East. This oversight could be interpreted as either discomfort at publicly recognizing that Islam built their early empires by destroying a pre-existing Christian/Roman empire, or perhaps, as a worst case scenario, it is outright duplicity. This reaction could indicate that any widespread memory of Byzantine challenges the heart of modern Islamic accusations directed at western civilization. Islamic pundits decry western ingratitude for Islamic contributions to technology and science and non-recognition of Islamic contributions to culture, but, in particular, the invasions of European crusaders into Muslim lands.

While Islam made contributions to technology and the arts, Middle Eastern Muslims often appear to believe such innovations only originated from Islamic culture. This oversight distorts historical realities.

Much of Islamic science was founded on the earlier major discoveries of the Greeks preserved in the great Byzantine* libraries in Constantinople (Istanbul) and Alexandria. Yet, the Islamic world often fails to acknowledge their debt to these ancients or to the Byzantine Christians, as the keepers of the classical knowledge, during centuries where it nearly disappeared elsewhere. Nor do they show embarrassment that many of their great mosques, such as the Hagia Sophia, were actually built by the Byzantines as Christian cathedrals. These cathedrals were forcibly converted into mosques when Constantinople became victim to violent Islamic conquest. Of course, any request to return holy sites to their original owners would be met with absolute fury and stony denial of any legal rights of Christians to their stolen religious properties.

The irony of modern Muslims criticizing European crusaders, who attempted to duplicate earlier Islamic actions, should not be overlooked. Moreover, while other extinct empires are normally remembered and studied by their modern countries, it strikes me as quite odd that discussion of the Byzantine Empire does not frequently occur in those Middle East and Islamic countries built on its ashes. After all, Europe doesn’t ignore the Roman Empire although it was once conquered territory in its Empire. ** Contemporary world opinion should ponder what Muslims would gain by eradicating the memory of an extinct empire within our modern discourse.

Considering this history, it is reasonable to argue that Imams would perceive that public consideration of the opinions of a Byzantine emperor could mature into a potential threat to Islam’s reputation as a “religion of peace”. As a result, the modern world may now contemplate the fate of an empire which feared, with good reason, that Islamic beliefs which advocated military aggression would translate into terrible conquest. This fate reminds the world of the methods by which Islam gained its legal and religious claims to Middle Eastern lands and elsewhere; by the bloody conquest of a pre-existing Christian empire.**

The Byzantine emperor had rational reasons to view Islam as a violent, evil force. He was not expressing irrational ignorance and bigotry. His people watched parts of their empire torn away (which at one point included much of the ancient Roman Empire, including northern Africa) and devoured by Islamic armies, until their beloved city, Constantinople fell under the sword of Islam in 1423.
Modern governmental leaders would be wise to consider that this huge empire was unable to protect itself against conquest due to its internal political discord.

*Byzantine was also known as New Rome or the Eastern Roman Empire. It was a blend of the Roman/ Greek/ Asia Minor civilizations
** Another question to consider is if Islamic conquest was a factor in the widespread lost recognition and knowledge of the great early Hindu Indian empires until modern time. The great Hindu culture was subjugated to Muslim rule after several violent invasions
*** Byzantine’s views would have been echoed by the Persian peoples, and the peoples in regions of modern Spain, the Balkans and India... These were large regions inhabited by highly civilized populations, whose invasion and conquest was validated by the teachings of the Qur'an

Update: Ann Althouse exhorts critics to get their message out. "Good thing Benedict shook that message loose, because it hadn't been getting around enough"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Path to Sept 11th

Various Impressions:

ABC edited out the scene attributing Clinton’s indecisiveness from his detraction over the Monica scandal, yet, at least Clinton's people might consider that ABC had attempted to throw him an excuse. Should the scriptwriters have speculated if the legal battles over post-election victory presented any distraction from the Bush leadership’s ability to hit the ground running in the early months of their administration? Most new administrations have their victory acknowledged right after the November elections and can begin the transition. Gore’s people were still clinging to their office door jambs on January 2.

The actress best known for her role in 24 as the President’s unethical and manipulative wife was cast in the role of Condi Rice. Currently, that actress’s presence in any similar White House role evokes ugly associations with her earlier character’s flaws. The Path to Sept 11th gives Condi several slaps, but did she deserve to be associated with the sins of a fictional villainess?

Even after ABC edited part of Albright’s disputed scenes, the film still convicts her of suffering from a terminal merger of bureaucrat and lawyer. She emerges as an almost mythic symbol of mindless, grinding bureaucracy. The sort of peevish drone who cares more about the display of memos and statistical documentation in tidy file drawers; than their actual impact on human lives.

The specter of Sandy Berger looms over the burning towers in the role of the cowardly weasel. His physical presence exudes panic at the suggestion of taking responsibility. Berger is condemned for spending more energy avoiding making risky decisions, than worrying over potential Al Qaeda victims, including now deceased US allies.

Monday, September 11, 2006

James Taranto Swats Intellectual Fly

James Taranto rebukes Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald for his failure of research to rescue an embarrassing lack of historical knowledge. Pitt's unfortunate article attempted to ridicule comparisons made between the war on terror and World War II, by using a fallacious historical analogy:

“On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack that devastated the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. And the United States rose in righteous fury, immediately declaring war on Thailand. Because, you know, it was in the same part of the world as Japan and the people kind of looked alike and besides, those Thais had been getting a little uppity and were due for a smackdown.

Which is not the way it happened, of course, but if Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wants to use World War II allusions to describe the War on Terror, I submit that my fantasy comes a lot closer to the truth than his. Rumsfeld's fantasy, if you missed it, was shared in a recent speech before the American Legion in Salt Lake City. There, the Sec Def said that critics of the war in Iraq--a designation that now includes most Americans--are like those who thought they could avoid fighting by negotiating with, or ''appeasing,'' the Nazis in the days before World War II.”

TARANTO’s sarcastic dissection of this opinion piece convicts Pitt of either intellectual laziness or a bizarre attempt to launch himself as an inept con artist.

“Now, as it happens, America declared war on Germany and Italy, on Dec. 11, 1941, four days after Pearl Harbor, even though those countries had never attacked us. What's more, as blogger Honza Prchal notes, Thailand was a Japanese ally. It declared war on the U.S. and Britain on Jan. 25, 1942”

This list shows that although the U.S. never got around to declaring war on Thailand, allies Australia, Britain, New Zealand and South Africa all did. Further, in addition to Japan, which had attacked us, and Germany and Italy, which had not, the U.S. also declared war on the Axis states of Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, on June 5, 1942.”

TARANTO slams the last nail in Pitt’s intellectual coffin with withering scorn:
“It just goes to show you that those who forget history are doomed to write silly newspaper columns.”

Mr. Pitts appears to write for the Society Page. Hopefully, he will restrict himself to that subject matter. At least he wouldn’t be required to read any demanding books.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ann Althouse praises Steve Irwin's legacy of happiness

The extraordinary thing, then, is not that he was so over-the-top enthusiastic, but that he didn't annoy us into rejecting him. He actually made us happy. What a guy!

Update : OUCH!

the stingray had its big day in all of history, taking out that guy with an insanely well-aimed shot, like that tail was evolved for this day.

Jack at Ace of Spades posts a bittersweet memory and thank you for the impact of Steve Irwin's life.

Irwin's Death ... on impulse I tapped it on the nose

Many years ago, as a very young, uneducated and inexperienced diver, I discovered a small ray buried in the sand. All I could see was its funny face, and on impulse, I tapped it on its nose. Fortunately, it flapped away without becoming aggressive in reaction to my idiocy . After I related the incident, I received a severe lecture from a friend and experienced driver. Later, I did the research on the dangers of the sea which I should have learned before diving. Too many people attempt diving or snorkeling without proper training on safe behavior around sea life. Hence, they are injured or die after picking up lethal shells and so forth.

In contrast, certain professional divers accept taking calculated risks, and swim in close proximity or handle dangerous sea life, as part of the danger inherent in their careers. These people take the same calculated, voluntary risks as experimental jet pilots, combat personnel and other hazardous careers. It is understandable that Austin Bay considers Irwin's death as "a violent, unnessary death" .Yet, Steve Irwin created a very hazardous category of animal handler and environmentalist, and one must consider that dangerous careers are not rare or considered insane.

Update: "One of Irwin's contemporaries, internationally known cameraman and spearfisherman Ben Cropp, was in his own boat off Port Douglas when Irwin was killed. Mr Cropp said the stingray was spooked and went into defensive mood. "It probably felt threatened because Steve was alongside and there was the cameraman ahead, and it felt there was danger and it baulked. "It stopped and went into a defensive mode and swung its tail with the spike. "Steve unfortunately was in a bad position and copped it. " "Steve was so close he could not get away, so if you can imagine it - being right beside the ray and it swinging its spine upwards from underneath Steve - and it hit him. "I have seen that sort of reaction with rays - with their tail breaking the water, such is the force."

Interesting Note: Sting rays can be enormous in Australia. They are not the same species found in the US. The sting looks like a steak knife on some of these things"The giant Australian stingray can reach 6 to 7 feet across the wings and weigh 750 pounds."