More On Lars Hedegaard Via the NY Times: Is Europe Waking Up?

Full piece here.

‘The Islamic Society, which runs Denmark’s biggest mosque and played an important role in stirring up passions against the cartoons of Muhammad, swiftly condemned the attack on Mr. Hedegaard. It also said it regretted its own role during the uproar over the cartoon, when it sent a delegation to Egypt and Lebanon to sound the alarm over Danish blasphemy, a move that helped turn what had been a little-noticed domestic affair into a bloody international crisis.’

Well, good for the Islamic Society.  If you need a little background on the Hedegaard case, click through.  We Americans are fortunate to have much stronger legal, political, and cultural traditions of free speech.

His tale here:

“The assassin came to his home dressed as a postman. When the historian and journalist Lars Hedegaard opened his front door, the man — whom Lars describes as ‘looking like a typical Muslim immigrant’ in his mid-twenties — fired straight at his head. Though Hedegaard was a yard away, the bullet narrowly missed.’

This blog hopes Europe has reached a tipping point when it comes to standing up to violence and threats of violence to individuals, no matter the source.  There has been an alliance between semi-integrated Muslims who incite and commit violence when their religion and prophet are criticized, alongside a deeply liberal, morally relativistic establishment (by American standards socially democratic or further Left).

The only way to protect Hedegaard is through public support, so others like him aren’t magnets for righteous holy warriors.  He’s a polemicist, but judge for yourself whether or not he’s ‘hateful’ and what the interests are behind ‘hate speech’ laws.  Europeans admittedly, have had a tough time integrating Muslims.  You may not agree with everything he says, but as Hedegaard points out, if you can’t even talk about the problems of integration that Europe is facing, and tolerate voices of dissent like his, how will you begin to solve those problems?

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Here’s a broader point to make about Western trends of thought, that highlight some problems and limitations in the culture.

Terry Eagleton is a British cultural thinker in the humanities, and he’s an actual Marxist.  Rarely is it actual Marxism we’ve been importing into the United States, especially by way of our humanities departments, but rather more Continental European thought in general.  Post-modern influences in the humanities often include feminists, race theorists, anti-colonialists (wikipedia), the Existentialists, some products of the generation of ’68 (wikipedia),  the works of Michel Foucault (wikipedia) and Jacques Derrida.  Generally, all of these influences aren’t necessarily seeking a Marxist overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat, ready with their own top-down program for life, but they’re rarely traditionalists either.  Some are quite deep and of potentially lasting value.

These influences generally seek to challenge traditional moral thinking, question the roots of legal, social and political institutions, and are not fans of organized religion.  Most of them have their own theories and ideas that vary from anarchic to semi-anarchic, anti-establishmentarian to anti-capitalist, to top-down rationalist and nihilistic.

I think the video below might offer ideas on how we decide what’s important to read, to think about, and which ideas to pass along.  In it,  Eagleton is debating Roger Scruton, a British philosopher focusing on aesthetics and the humanities, and who is generally conservative:  What do British universities keep, and what do they leave behind?  What is culture, and what should one read, think, and feel in order to pass that culture on?:

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This blog’s theory (take it, leave it, critique it) is that American culture since the rise of the 1960’s has been deeply influenced by post-modern thought, and that it’s been spilling out into the culture and our politics.  There has also, perhaps, due to technology and a freer flow of goods and information, been a convergence of ideas in the Western world.

Here’s a quote:

‘The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.’

George Santayana.

Related:  It’s the fierce critic of religion, new Atheist, and 68er Christopher Hitchens who has defended free speech most vigorously:  Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea…as a more entrenched radical British Left and Muslim immigration don’t mix too well: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

See the comments Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was SuccessfulUpdate And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Don’t get Borked, at least if you’re openly religious and aiming for higher office:  Bork had his own view of the 1960′s: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Repost-From Poemshape: ‘Let Poetry Die’

Full post here.

‘The best thing that could happen to poetry is to drive it out of the universities with burning pitch forks. Starve the lavish grants. Strangle them all in a barrel of water. Cast them out. The current culture, in which poetry is written for and supported by poets has created a kind of state-sanctioned poetry that  resists innovation.’

Has the institutionalization of poetry done it much good?:

‘Lilly’s contribution (and contributions) to the Poetry Foundation are the only reason it is what it is today. In other words, it’s not through any intrinsic or hard-earned merit that the Poetry Foundation is surviving and flourishing today, but because of a drug baron’s fantastic wealth.’

Maybe it wasn’t Emerson that kept Whitman going, but rather, the thought of returning to his tenure track position after a long hiatus.   Yet should there be no state funding at all of poetry…only patronage?

Also On This Site:   Cleaning up the humanities?  Do they need to be cleaned up, or just better cared for?:

Did Martha Nussbaum succeed in addressing a perhaps broader problem?  From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Philosopher Of Art Denis Dutton of the Arts & Letters Daily argues the arts and Darwin can be sucessfully synthesized: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Conservative Briton Roger Scruton suggests keeping political and aesthetic judgments apart in the humanities:Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion (was he most after freeing art from a few thousand years of Christianity, monarchy and aristocracy…something deeper?), at least with regard to Camille Paglia.  See the comments:  Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful

Hopefully it won’t go this far:  From Big Hollywood: ‘The National Endowment For The Art Of Persuasion?’

From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Free Syrian Army Threatens Hezbollah In Lebanon’

Full post here.

‘Hezbollah is scary good at insurgency, but counterinsurgency is emphatically not a skill in its toolbox. That’s one of the many reasons the organization has never tried to conquer the rest of the country. It can’t. It can only push people around from its own corner’

Syria, of course, has devolved into a long, bloody conflict, and the greatest danger is continued destabilization in the region.  America’s commitments are governed by a policy which defers to international law and institutions by design, and sits back otherwise (Libya, yes-Syria, no).  We’re no doubt helping logistically and behind the scenes with some SpecOps, but we’re also questionably losing important leverage and influence in the region.

Shia Iran has close ties with Hezbollah, and is backing the Assad regime.  Sunni Saudi Arabia is funneling arms to the Free Syrian Army, as it sits next to now Shia majority Iraq and is still upset after Saddam’s Sunni-majority ruling coalition.

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Adam Garfinkle:  Map humor.

AdditionVia the NY Times:  John Kerry announced $60 million in U.S. aid to the Syrian opposition, food rations for the military front, and is trying to bet on the political horses, so that the worst elements, if and when Assad falls, aren’t holding the guns.

Related On This Site:Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Who Needs An Ombudsman?-From Best Of The Web: ‘Journalism That Dare Not Speak Its Name’

Full piece here.

A reader, upset that the Washington Post’s stance on same-sex marriage didn’t represent his/her views on the matter, wrote as much to a WaPo reporter who responded that same-sex marriage is one of the core ‘civil rights issues of our time.’  Eventually, the dispute went upstairs to the ultimate referee, the WaPo’s ombudsman, who presented both sides to readers in an attempt at fairness.

In response to the ombudsman, Taranto writes:

‘That “libertarian” is quite a dodge. Most journalists are anything but libertarian in areas where that would mean siding against the left, such as guns, education, taxes, nonsexual health care and nonmedia corporate free speech. And as blogress Mollie Hemingway notes, Pexton’s disparagement of those who disagree with him as “religionists,” which means zealots, is invidious. Was Martin Luther King a religionist?’

One key to the fairness question lies in keeping the market open, and the market signals coming into papers and news-gatherers, whatever their persuasion.  Some papers were quite ‘conservative’ themselves when it came to protecting their own interests and revenue streams after the rise of internet technology.  Most still haven’t found as effective of a revenue stream to fund their activities.  Journalists are naturally going to self-select, and many do think of themselves as cultural gatekeepers in pursuit of justice and ‘fairness,’ and probably are more liberal often times.  What’s important is that as a group they’re not overly protected in their self-selection by law or political favoritism.

Addition:  As for people with conservative views, they are often closeted minorities in our universities, misrepresented and misunderstood in many media outlets, and maligned as old, white, and out-of-touch in much of the popular culture at large (The Footloose Theory).  That means an uphill climb through the current institutional landscape.

Another Addition:  Elections can change a lot, so we’ll see where we are in four years regarding partisan bias, and whether or not the press earns some respect back from the people.

Here’s John Stossell, discussing how his libertarian views were seen as outside the norm while working at ABC news:

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Related On This Site: Douthat’s The Grand New Party…The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama…Hate Is A Strong Word-Some Links On The BBC, The CBC, & NPR

Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?…

Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers?

The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

From Via Media: ‘Tom Friedman Gets Mexico Right’

Full post here.

Mead links to Friedman’s piece:

A work in progress?:

‘The ongoing success story in Mexico is one of the most important that the American press has missed in the last few years. We keep seeing Mexico as nothing but trouble—drug cartels, illegal immigration—when in fact a new reality is taking shape.’

Well, there appear to be some good things going on.  They have grown some of their own manufacturers into global competitors.  Here’s a list of Mexican companies.  Here’s a paper on NAFTA And The Mexican Economy (income disparities and all).

Friedman:

‘Mexico still has huge governance problems to fix, but what’s interesting is that, after 15 years of political paralysis, Mexico’s three major political parties have just signed “a grand bargain,” a k a “Pact for Mexico,” under the new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to work together to fight the big energy, telecom and teacher monopolies that have held Mexico back.’

Despite the old, Spanish-style, paternal and formerly authoritarian government, the PRI’s long one party-rule (back after a 12 year absence, having ruled for 70 years prior), Mexico will need the support of pluralities and majorities of the Mexican people.  As most Americans are aware, there’s much police corruption, many drug and ‘security’ problems, a less than effective education system, and deep poverty which includes some tribes who don’t even speak Spanish.  Many entrenched and ideological interests support a heavily regulated private sector.

Anyone’s who’s been to Mexico, though, sees a more complicated picture and knows Mexico has real promise.

From President Nieto’s speech.

“We are a nation that is going at two different speeds. There’s a Mexico of progress and development. But there’s another, too, that lives in the past and in poverty,” he said during his inaugural address at the National Palace in Mexico City.”

Here’s to hoping for some reform and the growth of freer Mexican industry and more economic opportunity for average Mexicans.   This would be a good thing.

**The Thomas Friedman Op/Ed Generator.

Related On This Site: From VICE: ‘The Mexican Mormon War’…Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’

The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

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Likely worth your time.

Thanks to Malcolm Greenhill for pointing this out.   In response to Megan McArdle’s post “America’s New Mandarins,” it might be worth revisiting Charles Murray’s Coming Apart.

Murray argues that since 1963, America’s civic culture, one that prized marriage, one that was more religious and more influenced by organized religion, and one that created a network of civic associations, clubs and shared expectations and obligations has sharply declined (Murray does not advocate a return to 1963).

He tells a tale of two cities: Belmont & Fishtown.  Belmonters are upper-middle class folks, and however much they followed the 60’s zeitgeist (however radical or not radical they were), they could afford to bounce back.  They’ve since come to run many of our institutions and are doing ok for themselves in the professions albeit with less religion in their lives (NPR’s mainstreaming of institutionalized feminism, environmentalism, moral relativism etc. might be a good example).  The upper 20%, and a professional class of lawyers, doctors, professors has held together pretty well.

Fishtowners, on the other hand, haven’t rebounded according to Murray. Working-class whites in Fishtown now have marriage rates of 48% (to 84% in Belmont).  They have much higher out-of-wedlock births, and 1 out of 8 males are not even looking for work alongside only 1 out of 8 people going to church regularly.  Religion has declined in both areas, but much more so in Fishtown.  The social fabric that once held these two groups together, and formed the core of pre-1960’s society, has weakened considerably.

In lieu of Murray’s lost civic culture, the clubs and associations that once bound us together, perhaps we could think of McArdle’s mandarins and meritocrats having been born of the newer, more self-selecting, Belmont. Perhaps some there are more open to government uniting us, or open to more European-style governance.

***Murray also addresses the rise of technology and technological dislocation (brains, STEM training, the rise of the quants) as well.  There are many other moving parts here.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

The point of this post:  The mandarins are us!  Egads!

Related On This Site:   Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Don’t get Borked, at least if you’re openly religious and aiming for higher office:  Bork had his own view of the 1960′s: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Repost-From Reason’s Hit And Run Blog: ‘Celebrating Roy Childs, A Lost Libertarian Great’

Full post here.

Interesting quote:

Childs was the autodidact with the nerve to tell Ayn Rand that Objectivism implied anarchism and to tell Robert Nozick that his “invisible hand” argument for the moral creation of the state collapses around itself. The essays in which he does this are both contained in Anarchism and Justice.’

Worth a read as Reason revisits libertarian thinkers of note.

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And now, just to shake things up a bit:  Briton Roger Scruton answers (45 min long) a series of questions about libertarianism, individualism, the State, Hayek, free markets, conservatism, our moral obligations to one another, contractualism, Christianity as he sees them etc.:

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It’s the safeguarding of a traditional order that is the real concern of conservatives

Scruton mentions this quotation a la Edmund Burke.  Such is an order that stretches across time, full of more spontaneously and freely entered into arrangements and contracts between people, but also duties and moral obligations that people have to one another, and sometimes to the State. Such arrangements often form institutions which are much stronger than any planned institution on Scruton’s thinking (and I’d argue often stronger and more stable than institutions defined with positive definitions of justice upon a rationalist framework, as I think promising to distribute and redistribute wealth is an over-promise that overlooks human nature and limits our institutions’ real world effectiveness. Such a view wants to extend liberty to ever new groups of people by granting “rights” to them, often without the duties and moral obligation).

Our constitutional republic, too,  grants ‘rights’ to people, and they are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Clearly, people in the U.S have quite differing views on what the role of the State ought to be, in relief especially at the moment as we wade through the effects of excessive individualism through modernism, postmodernism, moral relativism, certain strains of Continental thought (Neo-Marxism in the academy) and those who define freedom, the individual, and the State in very different ways.

Some thoughts on conservatism, its limitations and challenges, its blind spots and strengths.

Don’t call Scruton a man of the right, at least by British standards, anyways.

Also, the connection between political and economic liberty is highlighted, as it should be.

Related On This Site:  Kant is a major influence on libertarians, from Ayn Rand to Robert Nozick:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”…Link To An Ayn Rand Paper: The Objectivist Attack On Kant

Anarchy and hierarchy: Repost-Youtube Via Libertarianism.Org-David Friedman: ‘The Machinery Of Freedom’…Anarcho-capitalism:  Pro-market, anti-state, anti-war…paleo-libertarian: Link To Lew Rockwell Via A Reader…Anarcho-syndicalist, libertarian socialist and sometime blind supporter of lefty causes:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of KnowledgeTwo Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

New liberty away from Hobbes…toward Hayek…but can you see Locke from there?: Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

Scruton points to the Romans as the beginning of the separation of Church and State, or civil law, as opposed to Islam: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & AtheismFrom The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”/Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism

Scruton’s father was a socialist, and he wants to redirect the impulse to save the environment, and the daily lives of people from central planning back toward human aims and away from top down abstract surveys in Britain:Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

From romanticism to modernism to postmodernism to….?:  Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment…The conservative/libertarian tradition in the Anglosphere meets the arts: Robert Hughes-R.I.P.Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public

Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

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