[Note: This post was written several days ago, but since the topic has again been joined with regard to my politics, I decided to post it here. The original may be read at my blog, here. I also commend those interested to read my recent post about the OIC here.
These are the issues that interest me and the approach that I take. I write as much for myself as anyone else, and to allow intolerance and personal animosity toward other individuals to creep in is not only wrong and illiberal, but a diversion from the larger purpose of trying to make some sense out of the mess.
If that makes me "deranged" or a Republican, as some like to claim, then I suggest that they re-examine where they are coming from, and how they comport to the definition they give themselves.]
In response to a the point made to me that Democrats do not deserve Jewish support this cycle, I say:
I think the Republicans make some good points, but are too belligerent and prone to doing things like Bush. They take what is a winning argument over the actual nature of the conflict and tear it to shreds with incompetent and even negligent implementation. They tend to seek answers by starting with hard power. However, I believe they are ahead at understanding there IS a threat, where some Democrats are prone to diminish it as scaremongering.
One need only look at Europe. I am a broken record, but what is happening today is a product of what happened there several decades ago when European and Arab states agreed to formal "multiculturalism" as ransom for oil. Millions flocked from the "South" into Europe, even at the expense of other Europeans in the East, with increasing cultural demands. Through the agreement and its offshoots, the environment in Europe now shows signs of conflict. There is not only the culture clash, but the democracy deficit from the supranational EU that has Europe approaching the brink.
Parenthetically, although they agreed to do so, the Arab states did not even have to make their societies multicultural. Relatively speaking, no one wanted to go to them, only leave. In many of these states, persecution against minorities and non-believers continued apace. To illustrate, in Saudi Arabia it is unlawful to build a church or for a non-Muslim to travel to Mecca. In Iraq, 130,000 Jews has shrunk to around 10. In Egypt, tens of thousands of Coptic Christians flee.
The extent of the problem in Europe is seen in the urban streets and schools, in the divisions of societies and the standards of law. The latest legal aspect is the effort in the Human Rights Council by the OIC to silence and criminalize criticism of religion, or what is considered "blasphemy" according to a particular society, despite the obvious implications for freedom of expression. It is known as Resolution 16/18:
"Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief"
Jonathan Turley, professor of public interest law at George Washington University, had this to say in an LA Times op-ed last December, when Secretary Clinton hosted an international conference to discuss implementation:
The impenetrable title conceals the disturbing agenda: to establish international standards for, among other things, criminalizing "intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of … religion and belief." The unstated enemy of religion in this conference is free speech, and the Obama administration is facilitating efforts by Muslim countries to "deter" some speech in the name of human rights.
While the resolution also speaks to combating incitement to violence, the core purpose behind this and previous measures has been to justify the prosecution of those who speak against religion. The members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, have been pushing for years to gain international legitimacy of their domestic criminal prosecutions of anti-religious speech.
The OIC members have long sought to elevate religious dogma over individual rights. In 1990, members adopted the Cairo Declaration, which rejected core provisions of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and affirmed that free speech and other rights must be consistent with "the principles of the sharia," or Islamic law. The biggest victory of the OIC came in 2009 when the Obama administration joined in condemning speech containing "negative racial and religious stereotyping" and asked states to "take effective measures" to combat incidents, including those of "religious intolerance." Then, in March, the U.S. supported Resolution 16/18's call for states to "criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief." It also "condemns" statements that advocate "hostility" toward religion. Although the latest resolution refers to "incitement" rather than "defamation" of religion (which appeared in the 2005 resolution), it continues the disingenuous effort to justify crackdowns on religious critics in the name of human rights law.
The OIC has hit on a winning strategy to get Western countries to break away from their commitment to free speech by repackaging blasphemy as hate speech and free speech as the manifestation of "intolerance." Now, orthodoxy is to be protected in the name of pluralism — requiring their own notion of "respect and empathy and tolerance." One has to look only at the OIC member countries, however, to see their vision of empathy and tolerance, as well as their low threshold for anti-religious speech that incites people.
I think that Obama's decision to support this OIC initiative that denies free expression was a huge mistake and will hurt minorities and oppressed across the globe. Just as people are becoming aware and want to speak, the information faces censorship under law. A prescription for conflict arises. As I said, the implementation of the policy by OIC states will be no less one sided than in the case of Arab states creating multicultural societies.
Sadly, Europe holds the balance in my view. Despite the way it likes to lecture, it has such a poor record when it comes to peace. If it descends into further chaos, many will suffer. Israel will feel the brunt. Cooperation with the attempts of the OIC (and MB) to implement Sharia tips the balance in the wrong direction and increases the threats to non-believers everywhere.
Many Progressives in the US are like the Europeans I mentioned, an elite intelligentsia immune to the fact that, just possibly, their positions may be good in theory, but not in practice. Others engage in humanitarian racism that looks for scapegoats rather than placing agency for criminal acts on the perpetrator. When, in addition, they tie their star to Obama, it deprives them of ability to consider his actions solely on their merits. And when they treat people who challenge with other theories as less intelligent or rational, it no longer even relates to the merits. It does, however, illustrate a side that is alien to the dignity of others, a tenet of being progressive.
In any case, even though we try and do out part, it all can change in a speck of time, so I reserve decision. I cannot be too hard on myself or even the others for not having the answers, even the ones who think they do. Like most on the planet, we really have no control, except to make individual choices and to treat others with respect, understanding that many demand it without the slightest intention of reciprocation.