Currently viewing the tag: "Civilization"

I dig the track, a lot, but the video really hooked me.

Joe. My. God.

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Endgame.


Not our usual fare but I cannot be silent. How can Forrest Gump be the greatest character of all time when he’s not even really a character? He’s a pure plot device, a Christmas tree on which to hang gimmicky little zeitgeist ornaments for the baby-boomer audience to ooh and ahh at in recognition. Good [...]

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Didn’t get your fill of radio scandals yesterday? Here’s a different one that involves an actor from “The Love Boat” (who went on to represent Iowa as a member of Congress), his wife, and their campaign against radical Islam that they say got them fired from the morning radio program they hosted on a conservative Washington, D.C., radio station.

Fred Grandy, a former Republican member of Congress who starred in the television series “The Love Boat” in the ’70s, told the conservative group Accuracy In Media that he and his wife Catherine Mann-Grandy (known on the show as Mrs. Fred) had used their WMAL program “over the last several months to warn about the spread of radical Islam at home and abroad.”

Grandy said his wife “delivered a very tough indictment against stealth jihad, and for her efforts she was told she was off the show. I then told management without Mrs. Fred at the microphone, I could not remain either and have resigned effective [Thursday] morning.”

So on Tuesday afternoon, “Mrs. Fred” took to the airwaves on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program to warn that the country will be “lost” if people “don’t wake up soon and applaud” the hearings that Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is holding on Muslim radicalization on Thursday.

“The real problem is that none of us seem to understand there is self-jihad, civilization jihad, going on in our country every single day, 24/7,” Catherine Mann-Grandy said. “This is owned and orchestrated by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“This is the same Muslim Brotherhood that the President invited to the speech in Cairo, that Denis McDonough, a top security advisor went out to a mosque on Sunday to reach out to the Muslim community before the Peter King hearings and say, ‘we are not blaming you all for a few bad events that have happened,’ like, I guess, Major Nadal Hassan shooting a bunch of people and the Times Square bomber and underpants bomber, and all those things.”

“Those kind of lone wolf things that we try to put together — and media cannot seem to figure out — it’s orchestrated,” Mann-Grandy said. “It’s all orchestrated by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“If you look at the Holy Land foundation trial, you will find all of the evidence, including a five-stage plan,” Mann-Grandy said. “We’re at three now. You know what that is? It’s coerce the media. The fifth stage is total jihad.”

Video below.

Grady said while he “cannot affirmatively conclude” that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) or other prominent Islamic organizations had something to do with his firing, he noted that CAIR was “successful in getting midmorning host Michael Graham fired for anti-Islamic statements he had made on the radio and TV” back in 2005.







TPMMuckraker

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This is perfectly understandable, given the fact that Carter himself gave four of the best years of his life to the work of eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within: January 20, 1977 to January 20, 1981.

“Carter says Egyptian military likely to obey will of people,” by Collin Eaton for the American-Statesman, February 15:

“I think the Muslim Brotherhood is not anything to be afraid of in the upcoming (Egyptian) political situation and the evolution I see as most likely,” Carter said. “They will be subsumed in the overwhelming demonstration of desire for freedom and true democracy.”

The Muslim Brothers “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” — “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America,” by Mohamed Akram, May 19, 1991.

Carter’s problem is one he shares with numerous American analysts: he assumes that the Egyptian people are all Jeffersonians in potencia, just waiting for their chance to establish a pluralistic multiparty democracy guaranteeing equality of rights for all. It never seems to occur to him, or to any of the other analysts who assume this, that what one person may mean by “freedom” may be quite different from what another person means by it. It may be — indeed, it is likely — that many Egyptians who speak of “freedom” mean freedom to implement Sharia fully in their society, and “democracy” as the means to that end.

Jihad Watch

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The canning of Keith Olbermann has failed to scare his former coworker Chris Matthews into behaving like a grownup. Here he is denouncing Nancy Pelosi’s RINO couchmate Newt Gingrich as an “enemy to our civilization” for not being eager to crawl into bed with Islamic terrorists who openly plan to kill as many of us as possible:

Careful Tingles. That kind of outlandishly overheated rhetoric can land you in a hole like Current TV.

Via The Blaze, on a tip from Milton.

Moonbattery

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Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said Monday that MSNBC's Chris Matthews "seems to be slipping out of touch with reality."

On Tuesday, the "Hardball" host proved Armey's point by calling Sarah Palin "a cuckoo clock" and Newt Gingrich "a mortal enemy to our civilization" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let’s start with the conservative split, first time I’ve seen one in years. Richard Wolffe’s an MSNBC political analyst and Ben Smith is national political reporter for Politico.

Richard, I want you to take a look at some of these clips. We got Gingrich. We got Beck. We got Kristol. We got Palin. And we got Lindsey Graham. Let’s take a look at, first of all, Newt Gingrich. He says he doesn’t support — he said the United States shouldn’t support the Muslim Brotherhood or talking with them, in fact. Here’s what he told CNN. Let’s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Secretary Clinton apparently said that we wanted to reach out to the Muslim Brotherhood. I think this is absolute total misreading of history. The Muslim Brotherhood is a mortal enemy of our civilization. They say so openly. Their slogan says so openly. Their way is jihad. Their method is death. For us to encourage in any way the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood is fundamentally wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I think if you look closely at Newt Gingrich, you see a mortal enemy to our civilization.

Nice equivalence. Because Gingrich called the group that assassinated former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat a mortal enemy to our civilization, Matthews felt it's appropriate to similarly refer to a former Speaker of the House.

Getting Armey's point? But there was more:

MATTHEWS: Here’s Glenn Beck last Thursday on the radio. Let’s listen to his thoughts.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, HOST, FOX NEWS "GLENN BECK": I want the left to know I plant my flag in this soil. Groups from the hard-core socialist and communist left and extreme Islam will work together because they are both a common enemy of Israel and the Jew. Islam wants caliphate. Communists want a communist new world order. They’ll work together and they’ll destabilize because they both want chaos.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And he’s the same person out there saying that the two President Bushes, in the way they directed our bombing campaigns in the two Iraq wars, were really working with this new Muslim world order.

Actually, that's not what Beck said last Tuesday. Here's the actual quote:

BECK: There's one place that we told our bombers not to bomb. Does anybody know what it was? Two wars in Iraq. We said no bombing there. Ancient Babylon. Ancient Babylon. Why? Because the Bible tells us that that is the seat — right here — of power of a global, evil empire.

From those few sentences, Matthews concluded that Beck was saying that both Presidents Bush were working with a new Muslim order. Is that what you take away from those 52 words, or is Armey's point really sinking in?

But Matthews wasn't nearly done cherry-picking:

MATTHEWS: Bill Kristol, by the way, knocked conservatives who are supporting Mubarak. Here’s what he said on "MORNING JOE" today. Let’s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL KRISTOL, "WEEKLY STANDARD": I don’t think conservatives or Americans in general should be on the side of dictators against what seems to be a genuine democratic protest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Kristol spoke with the "Morning Joe" crew about Beck for three minutes, and had far more to say on this issue than the 24 words Matthews and Company cherry-picked:

But here was possibly the coup de grace:

MATTHEWS: Well, let’s take a look. Here’s Sarah Palin, to get the full look at this. She took a swipe at President Obama’s handling of Egypt. Let’s listen to her, Palin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FOX CONTRIBUTOR: It’s a difficult situation. This is that 3:00 AM White House phone call, and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House — it seems that that call went right to the answering machine. And nobody yet has — nobody yet has explained to the American public what they know. And surely they know more than the rest of us know who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: She talks like a cuckoo clock. In fact, I think when she gets that Sarah Palin named patented, that’s what she should sell, cuckoo clocks with her coming out every hour or half hour.

To sum up, Matthews on Tuesday called a former Speaker of the House of Representatives "a mortal enemy to our civilization," and a former Vice Presidential candidate a "cuckoo clock."

I don't know about you, but Armey seemed spot on Monday.

NewsBusters.org blogs

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Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said Monday that MSNBC's Chris Matthews "seems to be slipping out of touch with reality."

On Tuesday, the "Hardball" host proved Armey's point by calling Sarah Palin "a cuckoo clock" and Newt Gingrich "a mortal enemy to our civilization" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let’s start with the conservative split, first time I’ve seen one in years. Richard Wolffe’s an MSNBC political analyst and Ben Smith is national political reporter for Politico.

Richard, I want you to take a look at some of these clips. We got Gingrich. We got Beck. We got Kristol. We got Palin. And we got Lindsey Graham. Let’s take a look at, first of all, Newt Gingrich. He says he doesn’t support — he said the United States shouldn’t support the Muslim Brotherhood or talking with them, in fact. Here’s what he told CNN. Let’s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Secretary Clinton apparently said that we wanted to reach out to the Muslim Brotherhood. I think this is absolute total misreading of history. The Muslim Brotherhood is a mortal enemy of our civilization. They say so openly. Their slogan says so openly. Their way is jihad. Their method is death. For us to encourage in any way the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood is fundamentally wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I think if you look closely at Newt Gingrich, you see a mortal enemy to our civilization.

Nice equivalence. Because Gingrich called the group that assassinated former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat a mortal enemy to our civilization, Matthews felt it's appropriate to similarly refer to a former Speaker of the House.

Getting Armey's point? But there was more:

MATTHEWS: Here’s Glenn Beck last Thursday on the radio. Let’s listen to his thoughts.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, HOST, FOX NEWS "GLENN BECK": I want the left to know I plant my flag in this soil. Groups from the hard-core socialist and communist left and extreme Islam will work together because they are both a common enemy of Israel and the Jew. Islam wants caliphate. Communists want a communist new world order. They’ll work together and they’ll destabilize because they both want chaos.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And he’s the same person out there saying that the two President Bushes, in the way they directed our bombing campaigns in the two Iraq wars, were really working with this new Muslim world order.

Actually, that's not what Beck said last Tuesday. Here's the actual quote:

BECK: There's one place that we told our bombers not to bomb. Does anybody know what it was? Two wars in Iraq. We said no bombing there. Ancient Babylon. Ancient Babylon. Why? Because the Bible tells us that that is the seat — right here — of power of a global, evil empire.

From those few sentences, Matthews concluded that Beck was saying that both Presidents Bush were working with a new Muslim order. Is that what you take away from those 52 words, or is Armey's point really sinking in?

But Matthews wasn't nearly done cherry-picking:

MATTHEWS: Bill Kristol, by the way, knocked conservatives who are supporting Mubarak. Here’s what he said on "MORNING JOE" today. Let’s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL KRISTOL, "WEEKLY STANDARD": I don’t think conservatives or Americans in general should be on the side of dictators against what seems to be a genuine democratic protest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Kristol spoke with the "Morning Joe" crew about Beck for three minutes, and had far more to say on this issue than the 24 words Matthews and Company cherry-picked:

But here was possibly the coup de grace:

MATTHEWS: Well, let’s take a look. Here’s Sarah Palin, to get the full look at this. She took a swipe at President Obama’s handling of Egypt. Let’s listen to her, Palin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FOX CONTRIBUTOR: It’s a difficult situation. This is that 3:00 AM White House phone call, and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House — it seems that that call went right to the answering machine. And nobody yet has — nobody yet has explained to the American public what they know. And surely they know more than the rest of us know who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: She talks like a cuckoo clock. In fact, I think when she gets that Sarah Palin named patented, that’s what she should sell, cuckoo clocks with her coming out every hour or half hour.

To sum up, Matthews on Tuesday called a former Speaker of the House of Representatives "a mortal enemy to our civilization," and a former Vice Presidential candidate a "cuckoo clock."

I don't know about you, but Armey seemed spot on Monday.

NewsBusters.org - Exposing Liberal Media Bias

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AslanDec102010.jpgAslan: Repackaging Islamic supremacism for WaPo readers

Reza Aslan is a case study in the poverty and ideological bias of the mainstream media these days; his adolescent gutter mentality and abject intellectual vacuity do not stop mainstream media outlets from giving him a platform, for his trivial platitudes and patently deceptive nostrums fit in with their Leftist, anti-American ideology.

The mainstream outlets that feature Aslan apparently do not mind that he is a Board member of the National Iranian American Council, a group that genuine Iranian pro-democracy forces regard as an apologetic vehicle for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nor do they care that he has tried to pass off Iran’s genocidally-minded Thug-In-Chief, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as a liberal reformer. They are unconcerned that Aslan has called on the U.S. Government to negotiate with Ahmadinejad himself, as well as with Hamas — that is, with some of the most barbaric and murderous adherents of Sharia. He has even praised the jihad terror group Hizballah as “the most dynamic political and social organization in Lebanon,” recalling the useful idiots and fellow travelers who used to praise Stalinist Russia and even Hitler’s Germany for their social services apparatuses.

Now, unsurprisingly, this Fritz Kuhn for our age has found another Jew-hating, women-hating, kuffar-hating Islamic supremacist group to love: the Muslim Brotherhood. (This should come as no surprise: Aslan has previously spoken at events sponsored by the Muslim Students Association, a Brotherhood group.) And he is spreading that love in the Washington Post.

“Do Egyptians want both democracy and a role for religion in their government?,” by Reza Aslan in the Washington Post, January 30:

[...] But make no mistake, however the current uprising in Egypt turns out, there can be no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood will have a significant role to play in post-Mubarak Egypt. And that is good thing.

Despite the wide array of political and religious views on display on the streets of Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, and Suez, the one thing about which the overwhelming majority of Egyptians agree - 95 percent according to a 2010 Pew Research Center poll - is that Islam should play a role in the country’s politics. At the same time, a similar Pew poll taken in 2006 found that while the majority of the Western public thought democracy was “a Western way of doing things that would not work in most Muslim countries,” pluralities or majorities in every single Muslim-majority country surveyed flatly rejected that argument and called for democracy to be immediately established, without conditions, in their own societies.

For Huckabee and Santorum, as well as for a large segment of the American public, these two polls present a contradiction. How could Egyptians want both a democracy and a role for religion in their government? After all, in the United States it is axiomatic that Islam is inherently opposed to democracy and that Muslims are incapable of reconciling democratic and Islamic values. Never mind that the same people who scoff at the notion that religion could play no role in the emerging democracies in the Middle East are the same people who demand that religion must play a role in America’s democracy. Ironically, one of the most vocal proponent of religious activism in politics is Mike Huckabee himself, who has repeatedly called Americans to “take this nation back for Christ” and who, while running for president, proudly declared that “what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards.”…

Yeah, the Brotherhood is just like Mike Huckabee. Wasn’t it Huckabee who said that his followers “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions”? Was that Huckabee or Santorum, Reza?

Oh, wait — that quote is actually from “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America” — a captured internal Muslim Brotherhood document detailing the group’s goals for the United States. This is the group about which Aslan says that it would be a “good thing” if it were a participant in the Egyptian government.

So is the Washington Post clueless, or complicit?

Jihad Watch

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Director Spike Lee, along with his wife Tonya, came on Wednesday's Today show to promote their new children's book, but he couldn't leave without blaming the NRA for the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and slamming the United States of America for being "the most violent country in the history of civilization."

Initially both Lees just talked about their new book, Giant Steps to Change the World, but Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira couldn't let the controversial director of such films like Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X go, without pressing him to comment on the Tucson massacre as seen in the following January 12 exchange:

(video after the jump)

read more

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by Conor Friedersdorf

A reader writes:

History as taught in school emphasized war, conquest, and political leaders; industry and architecture; and, sometimes, religion and art. I became bored with it or, at least, I couldn't put each of these critical elements of civilization in a context that engaged me. Though I didn't really understand it at the time, what I was missing was the natural and cultural history of what was real around our farm in Iowa: land, air, water, and soil; domesticated seed and livestock; tractors, weed control, harvest, and storage; farm-to-market roads, towns, railroads, and barges; hard work, a bountiful crop, and a table filled with food. Farm work, biology classes, and a visit to the State Fair seemed to offer more a sense of reality than these history books.

Then I read Topsoil and Civilization.

Carter and Dale's thesis is that civilization is a function of how we use the resources of the natural world to, first and foremost, feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves. A sustainable agricultural system is a prerequisite to civilization. Likewise, an agriculture which depletes the soil and other productive resources will weaken a civilization making it vulnerable to collapse. It's pretty simple, really. People who don't eat don't exist to fight wars, lead nations, build buildings, and worship their god.

Gregor Mendel or Wang Zhen are clearly more pertinent to my life than Alexander or Kant. The cultural legacy embedded in a seed of corn is more valuable than gunpowder or the arch. Local hero Norman Borlaug has likely saved more lives than Hitler destroyed, several times over. And, no, I am not dismissing Alexander, gunpowder, and Hitler as unimportant. Just not as important as agriculture and natural resource conservation. And most historians missed this truth.

Though I would decide that this book is flawed by culturally bigoted analysis and inadequate citations of facts, the truth that the sustainable production of food and fiber is a foundation of all I care about and love has stuck with me. It is why I have chosen agriculture and natural resource conservation as my vocation.





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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

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Speaking in Israel today, the Dutch parliamentarian speaks the truth on Judaism, as well as Islam.
American Thinker Blog

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By Barry Rubin

It had not occurred to Protestant theologians who had been trying to “liberalize” and “modernize” Christianity…that they were thus undermining the very religion they were seeking to buttress “scientifically”….When the “protective covering” [of faith] is removed, no one should any longer be surprised to see [Christianity] quickly dry up…. — Curtis Cate, Friedrich Nietzsche, page 189.

When the 21-year-old Friedrich Nietzsche, who many years later would proclaim the Supreme Being to be dead, returned home from his first semester at university in 1865, his family was shocked. Not only was his face bloated by drink and carousing, but this son and grandson of clerics declared that he was an atheist. (By the way, the dispute didn’t stop him from constantly thereafter asking his family for money.)

It was a story to be repeated many times over the decades and is still commonplace today. Of course, religion by no means died in the West, especially in the United States, but it has been in a constant state of retreat and decline, especially among the elite.

Today, it is remembered that churches often aligned with reactionary forces trying to roll back the tide of modernization, science, and social change. But what is forgotten is how often clergymen and pious people, especially Protestants, pushed forward these tides and energetically tried to adjust their religion to them.

Often the strongest advocates of reason and science over the last three centuries were highly religious Christians. They were motivated by an honest search for truth wherever it led, a particularly needed quality in today’s society. But they also proclaimed that rationality or science did not undermine religion. They were brave, confident, and honorable. But they were also wrong.

The modern era in this respect can be said to have begun with David Friedrich Strauss’s Life of Jesus, first published in 1835 but mainly known through his revised 1864 edition. The historian Curtis Cate explains: “It is difficult for us, who live in a radically secular, critical, and scientific age, to appreciate the tremendous furor which the first edition…aroused.”

But Strauss was trying to adapt Christianity to the modern age, not be its gravedigger. Another such writer was Heinrich Gottlieb Paulus, a pious professor who had studied both philosophy and theology, who suggested in his 1828 book that the story of his religion’s founder walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee was an optical illusion because of bright sunlight or shimmering fog.

Cate writes that the next stage was that of ä new school of:

“`Scientific’ theology, which argued that if religious faith was to survive…many of the traditional beliefs…would have to be jettisoned….In theory this wish to create a dynamic, as opposed to a static, inflexible religion was admirable, but who was to decide how much of the New Testament needed to be pruned and how much of it retained as basic and uncorrupted Christianity?”

By the time this process was finished, huge numbers had fallen away from belief, while what remained in many churches, especially among the elite, is a sort of pious-flavored combination of social justice and social-climbing without much presence of divinity. Such arid religion is not particularly successful in inspiring, much less retaining, members.

Evangelical churches retain their enthusiasm. But they have a difficult choice: Do they try to shield their members, deeming knowledge unsafe for them, or can they really create an alternative elite that remains steadfast? The unpalatable alternatives often seem to be ignorance or defection.

Western political, cultural, and intellectual elites today are, whatever patina of hypocrisy remains, overwhelmingly atheist. I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing. It’s simply my observation and analysis. If I wanted to be provocative, I’d point out, as an example of the effort to deny this reality, that the controversial debate over whether President Barack Obama is a Muslim or a Christian conceals the likelihood that he is almost certainly neither in any real sense.

But I don’t want to be controversial so I won’t say that. Still, it is necessary for at least those members of the elite engaged in politics to pretend they have some religious faith. “Paris is worth a Mass,” said the French king who switched from being a Protestant to Catholicism in order to rule. So is Washington.

Another intriguing question is whether the decline in religiosity in the West is an inevitable part of the modernization process or something reversible. The former argument seems more likely.

How does this affect Islam and the Middle East. In light of this Western history, how strong is the motive to reform Islam?

The answer is that it is far less strong than outside observers may think. The year is 2010, not 1517, when Martin Luther proclaimed his revolt against the Catholic Church and could in full confidence believe his reform would strengthen Christianity, as it arguably did for several centuries. Can Muslims believe the equivalent of that idea today?

It is 2010, not the 1820s or 1830s when Strauss and Paulus could believe that a thoroughgoing critical inquiry into Christianity would preserve its hegemony in European society. Can Muslims believe the equivalent of that idea today?

Islam suffers not due to any military or economic aggression of the West but from the pervasiveness of apparently Western—but really more generically modern—ideas that work better. For the great majority of believing Muslims, any serious reform of their religion is risky, probably too risky, to undertake and still expect the patient will survive.

While one can argue that certain internal structures and basic beliefs of Islam block reform, a fourteenth- century observer could have made such a case for Christianity as well. Based on a contemporary reading of the scriptures and holy books, my Medieval predecessor could have argued that it was impossible for any believing Christian to accept a dramatic shift in his religion, including a tolerance toward political and cultural secularism.

Yes, it happened. But it happened at a time and in a context when the clergy and the pious could often believe that modernization and reform would in no way undermine their institutions and faith. That is not possible for Islam in the twenty-first century when we have all seen the example of the West.

To refer to a totally different analogy for the moment, consider the fate of the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev, as the country’s leader, tried to reform Communism in order, he thought, to save it. Instead, the USSR fell apart. The Russian people (and certainly Moscow’s former subject nations) are better off, but try telling that to a convinced Communist who enjoyed power and privileges under the old system.

Here, then, is the paradox. Only massive social change, secularizing intellectuals, open debate, a critical examination of the most basic religious beliefs, a transformation of the role of women, and similar things can open up a modern society in Muslim-majority societies. Yet it is understandable that the 2010 Muslim would see as suicide what the 1517 or 1835 Christian saw as a glorious future in which science and religion, modernity and faith, would be mutually reinforcing.

Conversely, to dig in, kill the critics, raise the walls higher, try to shut out (or severely constrain) modernity, and demagogically stoke the fires of jihad really is a logical response for those who want to preserve their religion and society as it has existed for centuries.

Perhaps they will fail due to opposition or to historical inevitability, but such forces carried on the battle for centuries in the West, arguably with the use of fascism (which of course had its neo-pagan side) being the last effort. Communism, of course, was explicitly atheistic so it offers the Muslim reformer no hope either.

There are many in the Muslim-majority world ready to die trying to hold back modernity and there’s no reason they can’t draw the process out for centuries of time and make it wade through rivers of blood to get to the other side.

This article was published on Pajamas Media and the text is published here for your convenience with some additions.

PS: For those interested, here is my response to readers’ feedback on Pajamas Media:

I am glad that my article stirred up so much interest.
Let me make it clear: I am not ignorant about the difference between religious faith and “reason.” I am not advocating the decline of religion. I am not saying that Islam will or will not or can or cannot be reformed. I am not equating the Protestant Reformation with developments within Islam. In fact my article is NOT about the Reformation at all but about post-Darwin developments in the late nineteenth into the twentieth century!

Nor does it matter, in the context of this article, why religion declined in the West. What’s important is that it did decline. And remember that we aren’t just talking about the United States here but mainly about Europe. I think it is also reasonable to say that in general the Protestant groups that declined the least in the United States were also those that made the fewest changes to adapt to modernity.

I am simply pointing out what Islamists and a lot of pious Muslims are saying: If we adapt modernity our religion will decline. Therefore, we must build a wall against modernity, an action that many think requires Islamist revolution and theologically-based regimes.

The liberal Muslim argument and any reform of Islam thus faces an additional obstacle which changes in Christianity to adopt to modernity did NOT face: seeing what happens afterward.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). 




YID With LID

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With the help of the media, the west hasn’t a clue about the threat from Iran.
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This week marks the one-year anniversary of what the anti-science crowd successfully labeled ‘Climategate’.  The media will be doing countless retrospectives, most of which will be wasted ink, like the Guardian’s piece — focusing on climate scientists at the expense of climate science, which is precisely the kind of miscoverage that has been going on for the whole year!

I’ll save that my media critiques for Part 2, since I think that Climategate’s biggest impact was probably on the media, continuing their downward trend of focusing on style over substance, of missing the story of the century, if not the millennia.

The last year or so has seen more scientific papers and presentations that raise the genuine prospect of catastrophe (if we stay on our current emissions path) that I can recall seeing in any other year.

Perhaps the media would have ignored that science anyway, but Climategate appears to be a key reason “less than 10 percent of the news articles written about last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen dealt primarily with the science of climate change, a study showed on Monday.”

But for those interested in the real climate science story of the past year, let’s review a couple dozen studies of the most important findings.  Any one of these would be cause for action — and combined they vindicate the final sentence of Elizabeth Kolbert’s  Field Notes from a Catastrophe:  “It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”

1. Nature: “Global warming blamed for 40% decline in the ocean’s phytoplankton”:  “Microscopic life crucial to the marine food chain is dying out. The consequences could be catastrophic.”

If confirmed, it may represent the single most important finding of the year in climate science.  Seth Borenstein of the AP explains, “plant plankton found in the world’s oceans  are crucial to much of life on Earth. They are the foundation of the bountiful marine food web, produce half the world’s oxygen and suck up harmful carbon dioxide.” Boris Worm, a marine biologist and co-author of the study said, “We found that temperature had the best power to explain the changes.”  He noted, “If this holds up, something really serious is underway and has been underway for decades. I’ve been trying to think of a biological change that’s bigger than this and I can’t think of one.”

2.  Science: Vast East Siberian Arctic Shelf methane stores destabilizing and venting:  NSF issues world a wake-up call: “Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.”

Methane release from the not-so-perma-frost is the most dangerous amplifying feedback in the entire carbon cycle. This research finds a key “lid” on “the large sub-sea permafrost carbon reservoir” near Eastern Siberia “is clearly perforated, and sedimentary CH4 [methane] is escaping to the atmosphere.”

The permafrost permamelt contains a staggering “1.5 trillion tons of frozen carbon, about twice as much carbon as contained in the atmosphere,” much of which would be released as methane.  Methane is  is 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2 over a 100 year time horizon, but 72 times as potent over 20 years!

The carbon is locked in a freezer in the part of the planet warming up the fastest (see “Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss“).  Half the land-based permafrost would vanish by mid-century on our current emissions path (see “Tundra, Part 2: The point of no return” and below).  No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.

The NSF is normally a very staid organization.  If they are worried, everybody should be.

It is increasingly clear that if the world strays significantly above 450 ppm atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide for any length of time, we will find it unimaginably difficult to stop short of 800 to 1000 ppm.

3.  Must-read NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path.

Dust-Bowlification may be the impact of human-caused climate change that hits the most people by mid-century, as the figure below suggests (“a reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought”):

drought map 3 2060-2069

The PDSI in the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl apparently spiked very briefly to -6, but otherwise rarely exceeded -3 for the decade (see here).  The National Center for Atmospheric Research notes “By the end of the century, many populated areas, including parts of the United States, could face readings in the range of -8 to -10, and much of the Mediterranean could fall to -15 to -20. Such readings would be almost unprecedented.”

4.   Nature Geoscience study: Oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred and Geological Society: Acidifying oceans spell marine biological meltdown “by end of century” — Co-author: “Unless we curb carbon emissions we risk mass extinctions, degrading coastal waters and encouraging outbreaks of toxic jellyfish and algae.”

Marine life and all who depend on it, including humans are at grave risk from unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases.  This can’t be stopped with geo-engineering and there is no plausible strategy for undoing it.

Ocean acidification may well be the most under-reported of all the catastrophic climate impacts we are risking.

5.  Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100 [see figure] and these related findings and studies:

SLR PNAS pic

For more on SLR, see Coastal studies experts: “For coastal management purposes, a [sea level] rise of 7 feet (2 meters) should be utilized for planning major infrastructure”

6.  Royal Society: “There are very strong indications that the current rate of species extinctions far exceeds anything in the fossil record.”

This is from a special issue of 16 articles in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (Biological Science), “Biological diversity in a changing world,”- which notes “Never before has a single species driven such profound changes to the habitats, composition and climate of the planet.”

7.  Science: Drought drives decade-long decline in plant growth

The NASA news release explains the importance of the work by researchers Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running,:

“These results are extraordinarily significant because they show that the global net effect of climatic warming on the productivity of terrestrial vegetation need not be positive — as was documented for the 1980’s and 1990’s,” said Diane Wickland, of NASA Headquarters and manager of NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology research program….

“This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth,” Running said….

“The potential that future warming would cause additional declines does not bode well for the ability of the biosphere to support multiple societal demands for agricultural production, fiber needs, and increasingly, biofuel production,” Zhao said.

Precisely.

UPDATE:  A commenter notes that questions about the statistics used in this paper have been raised here. It does look to me like the authors should have put in more of a disclaimer about statistical uncertainty.  I viewed (and still view) the original results as credible because they’re consistent with the findings of the Global Carbon Project — see slide 26 here, which is based on this 2009 Nature Geoscience article.  See also Nature on stunning new climate feedback: Beetle tree kill releases more carbon than fires.” The bottom line is that this study joins others in raising the serious warning that, contrary to the popular view, a world of ever increasing carbon dioxide may not lead to increased vegetation and may in fact lead to a decreased land sink. That would be particularly true if the NCAR drought projection comes true.

8.  Nature review of 20 years of field studies finds soils emitting more CO2 as planet warms

A biogeochemist quoted by Nature explained that “perhaps [the] most likely explanation is that increasing temperatures have increased rates of decomposition of soil organic matter, which has increased the flow of CO2. If true, this is an important finding: that a positive feedback to climate change is already occurring at a detectable level in soils.”

Another major study in the February 2010 issue of the journal Ecology by Finnish researchers, “Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon fractions in boreal forest soil,” had a similar conclusion.  The Finnish Environment Institute, which led the study, explained the results in a release, “Soil contributes to climate warming more than expected”

9.   Global Warming: Future Temperatures Could Exceed Livable Limits, Researchers Find.

There were so many important climate science findings this year I didn’t get to write on all of them.  This one in particular was misunderstood:

Reasonable worst-case scenarios for global warming could lead to deadly temperatures for humans in coming centuries, according to research findings from Purdue University and the University of New South Wales, Australia.

The study notes that even a 12°F warming would be dangerous for many.  In fact, we could well see these deadly temperatures in the next century or century and a half over large parts of the globe on a very plausible emissions path.

10.  UK Met Office: Catastrophic climate change, 13-18°F over most of U.S. and 27°F in the Arctic, could happen in 50 years, but “we do have time to stop it if we cut greenhouse gas emissions soon.”

Right before Climategate broke, scientists were increasingly starting to realize that humanity might well ignore the increasingly strong evidence that we needed to take action.  They even held a conference on “4°C and beyond” just weeks before the scandal broke.  Some of the top climate modelers in the world finally did a “plausible worst case scenario,” as Dr Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, put it in a terrific and terrifying talk (audio here, PPT here).

This is the “plausible worst case scenario” for 2060 from the UK Met Office that occurs in 10% of model runs of high emissions with the carbon cycle feedbacks [temperature in degrees Celsius, multiple by 1.8 for Fahrenheit]:

Graphic of chnage in temperature

As the Met Office notes here, “In some areas warming could be significantly higher (10 degrees [C = 15F] or more)”:

  • The Arctic could warm by up to 15.2 °C [27.4 °F] for a high-emissions scenario, enhanced by melting of snow and ice causing more of the Sun’s radiation to be absorbed.
  • For Africa, the western and southern regions are expected to experience both large warming (up to 10 °C [18 °F]) and drying.
  • Some land areas could warm by seven degrees [12.6 F] or more.
  • Rainfall could decrease by 20% or more in some areas, although there is a spread in the magnitude of drying. All computer models indicate reductions in rainfall over western and southern Africa, Central America, the Mediterranean and parts of coastal Australia.
  • In other areas, such as India, rainfall could increase by 20% or more. Higher rainfall increases the risk of river flooding.

In fact, though, this is ‘only’ the 5.4°C case, and if it doesn’t happen in the 2060s (which it probably won’t), it is merely the business as usual projection (!) for 2100 (see “M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F“).

CONCLUSION:  Unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases threaten multiple catastrophes, any one of which justifies action.  Together, they represent the gravest threat to humanity imaginable.  The fact that the overwhelming majority of the mainstream media ignored the overwhelming majority of these studies and devoted a large fraction of its climate ‘ink’ in the last 12 months to what was essentially a non-story is arguably the single greatest failing of the science media this year.

I didn’t have space here to report on the many studies that bolstered the case for our understanding that recent warming has been unequivocal and that humans are the primary cause.  But indeed the case is so strong that this year, even the normally staid U.S. National Academy of Sciences labeled as “settled facts” that “the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”

Must-read NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path

Climate Progress

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A new study suggests that the brewing of beer and other alcoholic beverages contributed significantly to the rise of civilization:

May beer have helped lead to the rise of civilization? It’s a possibility, some archaeologists say.

Their argument is that Stone Age farmers were domesticating cereals not so much to fill their stomachs but to lighten their heads, by turning the grains into beer. That has been their take for more than 50 years, and now one archaeologist says the evidence is getting stronger.

Signs that people went to great lengths to obtain grains despite the hard work needed to make them edible, plus the knowledge that  feasts were important community-building gatherings, support the idea that cereal grains were being turned into beer,  said archaeologist Brian Hayden at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

“Beer is sacred stuff in most traditional societies,” said Hayden, who is planning to submit research on the origins of beer to the journal Current Anthropology.

The advent of agriculture began in the Neolithic Period of the Stone Age about 11,500 years ago. Once-nomadic groups of people had settled down and were coming into contact with each other more often, spurring the establishment of more complex social customs that set the foundation of more-intricate communities.

The Neolithic peoples living in the large area of Southwest Asia called the Levant developed from the Natufian culture, pioneers in the use of wild cereals, which would evolve into true farming and more settled behavior. The most obvious explanation for such cultivation is that it was done in order to eat.

Archaeological evidence suggests that until the Neolithic, cereals such as barley and rice constituted only a minor element of diets, most likely because they require so much labor to get anything edible from them — one typically has to gather, winnow, husk and grind them, all very time-consuming tasks.

(…)

Sites in Syria suggest that people nevertheless went to unusual lengths at times just to procure cereal grains — up to 40 to 60 miles (60 to 100 km). One might speculate, Hayden said, that the labor associated with grains could have made them attractive in feasts in which guests would be offered foods that were difficult or expensive to prepare, and beer could have been a key reason to procure the grains used to make them.

(…)

The brewing of alcohol seems to have been a very early development linked with initial domestication, seen during Neolithic times in China, the Sudan, the first pottery in Greece and possibly with the first use of maize. Hayden said circumstantial evidence for brewing has been seen in the Natufian, in that all the technology needed to make it is there — cultivated yeast, grindstones, vessels for brewing and fire-cracked rocks as signs of the heating needed to prepare the mash.

Beer. Is there anything it can’t do ?




Outside the Beltway

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