Friday, 15 July 2005

No Transmission

Sorry everyone, I've been offline and out of touch most of the morning with internet and other problems - Telecom tells me that apparently a 'shell' at their end is malfunctioning, so 120 ADSL users are down -- so I'm posting here from a net cafe on the way to an appointment.

And I'm off the 'Eye to Eye' show I mentioned below -- apparently back on at a later date for a different discussion. Instead if you do tune in you'll see Nevil Gibson, Rodney Hide, John Tamihere and John Mather, CEO of Maori Television, dissecting the channel.

So there you go.


'Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog' by Caspar David Friedrich


Not in their name

I don't remember seeing this in the mainstream media:

Monday, June 11
HUNDREDS of people paid tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in London with a candlelit vigil staged outside the British Embassy, [Bahrain], last night.

The joint vigil was organised by Al Wefaq National Islamic Society and the National Democratic Action Society and involved the Islamic Action Society, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Bahrain Society for Freedom and Support of Democracy.

The only write-up I can find of the Bahraini protest is in the Gulf Daily News. The photos are at the Chan'ad Bahraini blog.

And there was also this news from The Scotsman, that "sixty Jordanians held a vigil outside the British Embassy in Jordan's capital, Amman, to protest at the London terror attacks and express solidarity with the British people." Photos here.

In the current environment, I found it inspiring to see some Muslims at least genuinely and enthusiastically denouncing the evil supposedly committed in their name...

It's by no means a Reformation of the religion, as I argued for here, (and Irshad Manji argues for so much better than I here) but it certainly put a smile on my dial.

Thursday, 14 July 2005

Maori TV

It seems I'm to be on 'Eye to Eye' this week discussing the issue of Maori broadcasting, and specifically Maori TV. Feel free to suggest suitably reasoned lines of argument I might adopt. :-)

Who would commit mass murder?

The terrorists that murdered Londoners were home-grown and foreign-trained to make them ideologically equipped for their 'ultimate sacrifice.' Where were they trained, who would encourage such thinking, and just what in the name of hell did they think they were sacrificing for?

The answer to the first question, reports The Times, is that Hasib Hussain and Shehzad Tanweer were trained in Pakistan.

Tanweer’s uncle, Bashir Ahmed, has no doubts that it was faceless figures in Pakistan who radicalised his sports-mad nephew.

“He was such a calm, loving normal boy. Extremists must have got their hands on him,” the 65-year-old Leeds businessman said yesterday.

“We all thought he had gone to continue his education. I thought he just wanted to improve his pronunciation.

“It wasn’t him. It must have been forces behind him.

'Training' was not stripping down Kalashnikovs out in a desert training camp.

“Today the camps are more like youth hostels,” one young activist who attended a madrassa in southern Pakistan told The Times.

“Recruits don’t spend hours scrabbling about on outward bound courses. It is more like being in a school room.”

“Organisers don’t want to turn out warriors who can strip down a Kalashnikov rifle blindfolded. They want to shape the mind, not the body.

“They want their recruits to embrace the idea of giving their lives for their cause, and doing nothing more technical than triggering the bomb they carry.”

There are long periods of Koranic study but also what organisers call “the evolution of the jihad”, which teaches how wars are no longer a battle between rival armies.

The modern Islamic terrorist understands the concept of 'asymmetric warfare' (I'll say more on this shortly) and he understands the true nature of sacrifice -- or at least he does after he's been indoctrinated in a philosophy of hate. "They want to shape the mind, not the body" -- remember that phrase, because whatever else this struggle is, at root it is a battle of ideas we are engaged in.

So who encouraged these lads to blow themselves up in pursuit of mass-murder? What sort of person were they, and what sort of a philosophy were they peddling. The Times has an example here: Egyptian-born Professor Tariq Ramadan, described as "an Islamic academic who justifies suicide bombings," and booked to speak in the UK soon.

one of the good guys, Irfan Khawaja says, "draw your own conclusions about the nature of the moral and intellectual status of what passes for the Muslim intelligentsia, and the academic culture hospitable to it." Irfan has a go at the western apologists for the terror in a piece called Grievance Explanations and the Politics of Fantasy. It's good reading, and he poses a challenge to the apologists:
So which policy do you want? The one that led to London, the one that led to 9/11, the one that would have led to a nuclearized Iraq, or the one that might well have led to the Iraqi hijacking of the Saudi oil fields?

Or is it that you want the policy option that consists in the fantasy that you don't have to think about stuff like this?
And Robert Bidinotto attempts to explain the ideas behind both the terror, and the western apologists for the terrorists: Is it Islamic 'extremism' -- or is it Islam itself? he asks. He talks of a
moral inversion [in the West] fueled by toxic philosophy. Thanks to a long gray line of ideological dope-pushers, Western intellectuals, politicians and cultural leaders are addicted to the self-destructive hallucinations of moral relativism, altruistic self-sacrifice, cultural self-loathing and political appeasement of sworn enemies. Self-blame, along with cowardly calls for more 'understanding' and 'restraint,' are their only knee-jerk responses in the face of each new outrage.
And as for the argument that these are just extremist Islamic nutcases committing these horrors, like Bidinotto we've all been waiting to hear real, genuine repudiation from Muslims themselves. As he says,
I am by no means an expert on Islam. But since 9/11, and during the countless terrorist incidents that followed, I have been patiently awaiting evidence that the majority of Muslims worldwide repudiate the premises and tactics of Islamic terrorists.

Well, I'm still waiting. And there comes a time when one must finally draw conclusions, however painful, from the facts presented.

If there really is some sort of ongoing war between "extremists" and "moderates" for the soul of Islam, it appears to be one of the quietest contests in the history of ideological warfare.

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More misunderstood killers

So who wants to defend this atrocity -- was the suicide bomber and those who encouraged and resourced him just 'misunderstood'?
BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomber killed 27 and wounded 67 people, mostly children, when he blew himself up beside a US patrol in east Baghdad ... Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, has made clear in internet statements - though their authenticity cannot be verified -- that he sees Shia Iraqis as apostates who deserve to be killed just as much as American soldiers.
Oh, so I suppose that's alright then. Anyone want to defend this sick fuck?

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Guns and Fun!

The Herald have the news that there's to be some sort of event in Northland this weekend celebrating 'guns and fun,' at which there's reportedly a pretty unattractive-looking bloke talking "about issues affecting Northlanders, including 'the horror that is the RMA'." Outrageous. (And a truly awful photograph.)

More details here. Send complaints here.

They aren't terrorists, they're just misunderstood.

What many of us mean by the above and what the BBC mean by it differs considerably. The BBC take the above exhortation as in invitation to airbrush history.

The Times reports that

on Thursday night, as the weblog Harry’s Place has observed, the BBC website ran an article headlined “Bus man may have seen terrorist”. By the next morning the headline appeared as “Passenger believes he saw bomber”. Another page on the site referred to “the worst terrorist atrocity Britain has seen”. By Friday lunchtime these words became “the worst peacetime bomb attacks Britain has seen”.

And this wasn’t an accident. Editors were following Section 11 of the BBC’s editorial guidelines which read: “The word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term.”

The Telegraph reports that an un-named BBC spokesman said in response to these airbrushing accusations last night: "The word terrorist is not banned from the BBC." Bollocks, says the rest of us.

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Won nothing

What is a combined smokescreen generator, mud thrower and bullshit dispenser? If you answered either Alastair Campbell or the benighted fool Clive Woodwhinge you get a point. Andrew has posted a hilarious Woodwhinger and a bunch of Lions jokes over at SOLO. Sure, even their wives must laugh at them when they're trying to score.

The Lions are making available a help-line for fans who are disappointed with their team's recent performance.

The help-line number is: 0800 10 10 10.

That's 0800 won nothing won nothing won nothing!!


Bloggers. Tragically hip.

So what's the collective noun for a group of bloggers?

How about a blowhard of blogs?
EXAMPLE: Stephen can't come out tonight -- he's got a whole blowhard of blogs to get through.

Or a contumescence of blogs:
EXAMPLE: There's a whole contumesence of blogs about that, and they all agree: you should wear the tinfoil inside your hat.

Or maybe a who-gives-a-fuck of blogs:
EXAMPLE: There is an entire who-gives-a-fuck of blogs that could answer your question, but I'm off to get laid. Have a nice life. Blowhard.

This guy reckons it should be a tragedy of blogs. He makes a good case ... for a blowhard with a Che icon on his site. He's also got lots of shitty words about the shitty words tragic bloggers use. For example:
Podcast: Someone had the revolutionary idea of taking a compressed audio file and putting it online. Yeah, doesn't sound so sexy when I describe it for what it is, does it you morons? It would have been a great idea if streaming audio wasn't already around for over a decade before the word "podcast" entered the lexicon. Man, I can't stand the word "lexicon." Talking about all these shitty words has made me start using shitty words. I'm so pissed, I just slammed the door shut on some kid's nuts.
And he's made up at least one new one of his own. "A female blogger with an itch? You guessed it: a BITCH." Not sure if I've ever met one like that. :-)

[Hat tip DPF]


Tuesday, 12 July 2005

Will Labour's tax greed destroy it?

I've just arrived back from a business trip to Rotorua, and excitedly flicking through my new Free Radical magazine, hot off the press and into my mailbox this morning.

Iit's chock-full of kick-arse activism, abstract theorising, and arse-grabbingly provocative commentary -- and that's just the cover! More on what's inside here.

Order your copy from your newsagent today, or subscribe here.


Sorry everyone, illness in the family so expect transmission to be intermittent over the next while. Will catch up on posts and comments shortly. Apologies to anyone who has abused me while I've been away and was expecting a colourful reply, or who offered me something informative that it seems like I've spurned. I'll see what I can do as soon as I can. :-)

When sensitive flowers attack

The Humphreys have the story that silly old Lydon Hood at un-Fighting Talk has come out against the London bombers, still harbours a grudge against both the Humphreys and myself.

I haven't yet read Lyndon's piece, but apparently reading my blog raises his blood pressure. Poor chap. Maybe he should lie down and think about England.

[UPDATE: Ah. Seems I've been given a bit of a bum steer. Here's what Lyndon wrote: "Be aware that I'm about to do a lot of attributing the opinions of one author to the entire blog. I'm sort of sorry about that. I know I abused PC for it. But I don't want to look up who said what because reading that blog is bad for my blood pressure." Looks like the Humphreys have misattributed 'that blog.' There you go. Storm in a pantywaist.]


Monday, 11 July 2005

When bloggers have got reasons to hide

I'm still in two minds about anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers. Some are posting under cover because they've got something to hide -- Jim Peron for instance, seemingly posting as LiNZ (unintentional irony, surely) -- and some do so because of things like this: an American University professor who suggests that if you're a blogger then university search committees may hold that fact against you when considering whether or not to offer you employment. True story. [Hat tip, Noodle Food.]

Where is the Gandhi of Islam?

Thoughtful pieces this morning from The Sunday Times, The Telegraph and Capitalism Magazine.

The Telegraph has Charles Moore asking Where is the Gandhi of Islam? and is in a similar vein to my own Condemning a Culture, though with some important differences. I'd recommend an Aquinas, not a Gandhi.
... London is part of a great civilisation.Yet there seems to me to be a radical disjunction between our heroic capacity to deal with the immediate effects of terrorism and our collective refusal to confront what lies behind it. The effects of this disjunction are, literally, fatal. [Hat tip Samizdata]
And The Sunday Times has information on a Leaked No. 10 Dossier' showing the urgency of not letting our guard down in the meantime.
Al-Qaeda is secretly recruiting affluent, middle-class Muslims in British universities and colleges to carry out terrorist attacks in this country, leaked Whitehall documents reveal. A network of “extremist recruiters” is circulating on campuses targeting people with “technical and professional qualifications”, particularly engineering and IT degrees.
Yesterday it emerged that last week’s London bombings were a sophisticated attack with all the devices detonating on the Underground within 50 seconds of each other. The police believe those behind the outrage may be home-grown British terrorists with no criminal backgrounds and possessing technical expertise.

And Michael Hurd suggests a crucial lesson to be learned from the latest terror attacks is that "terrorists are not afraid."

President Bush keeps repeating that we're not going to ever give in. No matter what they do to us, we'll stay firm. Firm in what way? In Iraq? Terrorism isn't merely about Iraq. Terrorism happens because some people want to destroy life on earth while others want to live it. Notice how terrorists don't usually go after soldiers (although they do this). Their primary targets are working people, people on buses and people on subways. Or people in airplanes. They want to terrorize "regular people" so that regular people will, in turn, compel their leaders to cave in.

Therein lies the terrorist contradiction. If we give in to terrorism more and more, then what do we get in return? In the end, a society run by religious fanatics who choke any tiny ounce of joy out of living. Why would any remotely rational person ever give in to this? This is why sooner or later (and usually sooner, rather than later), people get back onto the airplanes, buses and highways. They always have and they always will because civilization, on its worst day, beats a typical day in the life of a terrorist (or a terrorist state, such as Iran) hands down.

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Magic Wood

More photography by Yuri Bonder. 'Magic Wood.' Magic indeed. [Hat tip Illustrated Ideas]

Some of this week's best at Not PC

The last few days of posts here at Not PC have been mainly taken up with commentary on the London atrocities, and I should point out that Scoop and SOLO both have my column 'We are all Londoners today,' compiled largely from Friday morning's postings. Feel free to comment either here or at SOLO.

So here's the best of the week, plus art, comedy and music at the all-singing all-dancing Not PC:

Commentary on London:

Condemning a culture...
Responding to atrocity...
One of those that caused it...
Business as usual...
We are all Londoners today...
Bastards bomb the west again!

Other posts:

July 4th: Celebrating revolution
On July 4th, Mark Steyn reminds us that criticisms of the US for being 'unilateralist' are ever so slightly amusing when you realise that a position of 'unilateralism' is simply a euphemism for one of 'independence,' the concept for which the July 4 celebration is putatively held. Why not abolish the holiday altogether, wonders Tibor Machan. A nation born in liberty now subjects itself to the very tyrannies and usurpations against which it once revolted...

Property-siezing the beginning of Sovietisation?
Further commentary here from economist Richard Salsman on the Kelo et al v City of New London decision evicting people from their Connecticut homes to make way for a shopping mall...

First Heat
'First Heat,' by Brian Larsen. One of the few great works of art celebrating industry...

A Saturday morning ramble: How do you judge success?
I was chatting with a friend over breakfast when Hello Sailor's 'Gutter Black' came on the radio. (Seems it's being used for a new local TV series, so there'll be a few well-deserved royalties going Dave McArtney's way.) My friend commented that he'd never heard the song before, which seemed incredible to me; that song, I said, was what turned me on to music...

Lifting your spirits
On such a day as this, what can you do to lift your spirits without forgetting the atrocities of last night?I recommend music, especially music that represents the best of the culture that is presently under attack. Listening to the best of the west is almost like an act of defiance, a reminder that this is what we're defending against the nihilists....

Who is looking where?
So who exactly is the blogger 'Looking in NZ'? Well, here's a clue: My post two below this one on Peron's problems is almost exactly the same as the comment I posted on the comments board of 'Looking in NZ's apologia for Jim Peron, which just been removed. Is that a clue?

More liberty at the movies
Now for some more uplifting material. David Boaz has posted his personal list of his all-time favourite libertarian-themed movies here, to which I'd add at least three more...

Peron's problems are of his own making
Some bloggers have been feeling sympathy for the difficulties in which Jim Peron now finds himself. I'm not one of them.'Looking in NZ' has said a lot about Peron’s problems, about which he seems to know an unusual amount, but hasn't once mentioned the elephant in the middle of the room that’s the direct cause of those problems...

Architect goes into liquidation
Aaron gave me the news that Auckland architect Richard Priest Architects Ltd have gone into liquidation. I don't know the sad details, but I'm not surprised since Richard was architect for one of the 'poster boy' projects of leaky homes...

Straight talk & spin
Helen Clark comes up with the straight talk on stoning, and Russell Brown with the spin...

Anti-capitalism in Edinburgh
Freedom and Whiskey is a libertarian from Edinburgh with pics and comments on the anti-capitalist nutters currently infesting his fair city...

Mugabe begins confiscating guns ... what's next?
Robert Mugabe has begun confiscating guns. Why do you think that would be?

Stoning Ashraf Choudhary
The idiotic pronouncement by Labour MP Ashraf Choudhary that stoning gays and adulters is okay because it is in the Koran and "what the Koran says is correct" demonstrates once again that all cultures are not equal, and Islamic culture perhaps least equal than most...

Meddling arseholes highlight system of a downer
Just as Shania Twain finally receives permission to build a house on her own land, news comes in that Serj Tankian (pictured right) "the singer of American band System of a Down has failed in his bid to buy a west coast beach property...

More Aid, Less Growth
Aid kills growth, that's the message of a report by the Globalization Institute.

Compromisers and meddlers destroy Costa Rica's libertarians
Sad news from Costa Rica about the parliamentary libertarians there, who have apparently gone native. Former activist Jorge Codina reports that the Moviemento Libertario (ML) is no longer a movement, nor any longer libertarian...

What do consent figures tell us about the property boom?
The number of Building Consent applications for new homes has plummeted (Bob Dey has figures here), prompting some speculation that the property boom is turning south...


Sunday, 10 July 2005

Condemning a culture

Berlin Bear and Mark have been disagreeing as to whether any Muslims have condemned the atrocities in London, and I have to note in response to both of them that the BBC World Service did speak to plenty of British Muslims who did so in no uncertain terms. I have no doubt at all that they were genuine condemnations, and good on them for doing so.

There are secular Muslims about who do condemn bombing innocent people, for sure, but I'd suggest however that just as there are few Muslims who actively campaign against clitorectomies or the compulsory wearing of veils, there are few who are active in seeking to remove the stain of violent jihad from their culture, and many -- including western intellectuals and commentators -- that apologise for it. (Irfan Khawaja points the finger at Tariq Ali, for example, over here. Sir Humphrey's posts Christopher Hitchens's response to Ron Reagan Jr over here.) And one of the imams who condemned violence yesterday on the BBC represented the mosque in which was recruited the British-born Muslim that tried two years ago to blow up a US passenger airline with explosives in his shoe. This is not condemnation so much as tacit acceptance of the evil in one's midst.

So, to answer another of Simon's questions, I don't by any means condemn 1.4 billion Muslims -- I don't even know most of them for goodness' sake. As Simon says (insert obvious punchlines here) , "much as I despise the bastards who did this, I despair when I hear comments that imply that the whole of Islam is responsible for this sort of thing." Clearly 'the whole of Islam' did not bomb London, or Madrid, or Istanbul, or Jakarta, or Bali, or New York. But there is a world-wide trend there, don't you think, that we should not ignore. One that needs to be taken seriously, and one that needs to be condemned.

In my opinion it is the culture of Islam fundamentalism that needs to be condemned, as I argued here briefly just the other day before all this happened, and here some weeks ago. And in answer to criticisms that this attitude is racist, or that cultures themselves are beyond criticism, nonsense. Culture and race are two different things. One can condemn a culture without necessarily condemning those within it :
The fact is that cultures are not beyond criticism (a point made last week by Wellington probation officer Josie Bullock), and nor should they be. We should judge Islamic culture, and indeed all cultures, according to how well they work for those within them. Thomas Sowell made exactly that point in his book Conquest and Cultures:
Cultures are not museum-pieces. They are the working machinery of everyday life. Unlike objects of aesthetic contemplation, working machinery is judged by how well it works, compared to the alternatives.
Islamic culture does not work for those dirt poor people scraping a living across the globe in Muslim theocracies, and it sure as hell ain't working for those killed by Islamic bombs in the cities across the world to which many of those dirt poor have themselves escaped in search of a better life. A culture that encourages murder and martyrdom and theocratic dictatorship is not a culture that reveres human life. It must be condemned and it must be defended against.
As long as the Islamic world harbours within it those have declared and carried out jihadic murder in the west, then the war of self-defence must be entered, both on the ground and in the battlefield of ideas.

It's not enough to just condemn it, however. Islam must be reformed, and the hate-success, clitorectomies-for-everybody, kill-the-west culture that has fomented nothing but hatred and poverty across the Muslim world firmly rejected. Witness the effect that the sisters of Robert McCartney (pictured left) had in speaking out against Irish violence -- in saying "NO MORE!" they brought the hope of an end to what once seemed unending. Only such a rejection from within is ever going to change the culture of Islam.

Second, Islam needs a Reformation. Urgently. As I pointed out here and here four years ago to noisy dissent, unlike the West, Islam never had a Reformation, and 1.4 billion Muslims and at least 750 Londoners are the poorer for that today. Islam never had a Renaissance. It never had an Aquinas to liberate science, thought and life from its religious shackles. Crikey, Islam doesn't even have a New Testament saying that all the God-awful and God-ordained killing in that earlier collection of papyrus is no longer necessary. Islamic culture needs to embrace Enlightenment values, and it needs to do so damn quickly.

It needs its own McCartney sisters and its own Aquinas. Until it gets them the culture stands condemned, with smoking ruins and a trail of corpses across the west as sad monuments to its destructive power.