Thinking in public about anything that matters.

Month: March 2006 (Page 1 of 2)

Stifling Debate at NYU

So the Objectivist Club at New York University has had a panel discussion about the Danish cartoons. Trouble is, as part of the discussion, they were going to display the cartoons so that everyone could see what they were talking about.

NYU’s administration didn’t like that.

Go here: Censors Win at NYU to read all bout it.

Now, I believe a university should have the right to set campus rules, even dumb ones. But whether they have the right or not, it’s counter to the vital purposes of education to squash first-hand viewing of images under discussion, simply because some members of the community feel offended by them.

Yes, I know, some of those offended parties can be troublemakers. But here’s the thing: intellectual and moral debate in itself can be – often is – offensive to some party or other. If you are going to give in to those who threaten trouble, then Continue reading

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Sacre Bleu.

France has really had a hard time of late. It seems rather riot-prone, no?

This time the trouble is that the youth – many of whom attend elite universities – have a major case of ignorance when it comes to the principles of economics. Are their schools failing them? Are they failing their schools? Or is it just that they haven’t gotten to Economics 101 yet?

Here’s an easy-to-follow piece by Thomas Sowell. If you know any elite French students who are willing to read English, pass this on: The French Student Riots by Thomas Sowell

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The meaning of “fatwa”

I’ve been reading some of the material on the Aqoul blog, and came across this discussion of the meaning of ‘fatwa’.

Fatwas and Wafa Sultan

Very interesting, and more informative, I believe, than what I’ve read in the newspapers.

I hasten to add that the criticism’s there of Wafa Sultan in regard to the issue of ‘fatwa’ may or may not be valid, but anyone who goes in front of a Middle Eastern audience through al-Jazeera (even from the distance of L.A.) and says the things that she said with such obvious conviction has to know that she’s risking herself, and I do not believe a sane person would do that unless Continue reading

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Al-Afif al-Akhdar, Another Courageous Arab

In my campaign to celebrate those who risk everything to uphold liberty, I give you Al-afif al-Akhdar. This man has been on the job long time.

The Roots of Jihad

I’ll write more about this when I have time.

Thanks to the Egyptian Sandmonkey for posting excerpts from “The Roots of Jihad” on his blog. “Rantings of a Sandmonkey” has been a great portal for me into the Arab world, where I can find those Arab champions of reason and liberty that I’ve been hoping for.

* * * * *Comment added March 21, 2006: I wrote the above post before I finished reading that very long article on Akhdar. I planned to finish reading the article (after having read Sandmonkey’s excepts and the first part of “The Roots of Jihad”) and then write about my thoughts on it when I had time. But I was so excited by what I had already read, I wanted to post a link to the article right away.

I’ve now finished reading the article, and I’m disappointed that Akhdar criticizes capitalism and upholds socialism. Continue reading

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Akbar Ganji Freed

Akbar Ganji is an Iranian journalist. He wrote a series of articles accusing Iranian Intelligence Ministry agents of killing five pro-reform writers, and as a result he was sentenced to six years of prison, much of that in solitary confinement.

He has served his full six years and is now free. Free and not cowed by his punishment. Akbar Ganji is one of those rare courageous heroes who deserve our admiration and celebration.

Here are a couple of articles revealing Ganji’s enourmous courage and dedication to liberty. If every lover of liberty had this courage, we’d live in a free world.

Freed Iranian Journalist Remains Defiant

Iranian Dissident Released from Jail

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Criminalizing Illegals?

Senators Criticize Bill on Illegals I’m not sure what to think of this, but my immediate reaction is that the Democrats are right on this one. Many visa violations are minor, and some people get into the country illegally because they don’t have time to wait … they need to legitimately get away from their home country. Or they just want to be free and can’t stand their own country anymore. Or they’re sick of being dirt poor and want a chance to work. These people shouldn’t be criminalized.

On the other hand, there are dangerous people who enter the USA illegally or stay beyond their visas illegally because they want to blow the smithereens out of Americans. Still others want to do non-political criminal acts, or escape legitimate prosecution in their own countries. Continue reading

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Considering Journalism and Islam

The Media and Islam by Diana West. This article doesn’t cover the field of the media and Islam, as its title suggests. It focuses on only one reporter’s gross omissions in her three part article about imam Reda Shata of Brooklyn, New York, which was published in the New York Times.

But by looking at the reporter’s omissions, Diana West reminds us of what journalism is all about – in case we’ve forgotten. It’s easy to forget since we see so little of it.

Did the reporter miss so many crucial points in her 3 part series because of journalistic incompetence? Or was she afraid she’d make dangerous Islamist enemies if she pointed out too much? Did she avoid asking a lot of uncomfortable questions out of courtesy (not very reporterly), or out of concern that Imam Reda Shata would quit the interview altogether? Or did she put him on the spot, but was afraid if she reported his rejection of the big questions, she wouldn’t get any more interviews with imams?

Or maybe the piece was simply intended to be good PR for the Muslim community. But in that case, it wouldn’t be journalism, it would be advertising.

None of these possible reasons is worthy of a journalist. If you don’t ask the crucial questions, you’re not reporting the news, you’re feeding your readers pap.

If you do ask the crucial questions and you get evasive answers, you should report those, as well as any outright refusals to answer.

You should do your homework so that you know what the crucial questions are, and you give pertinent background to your readers so that they can make sense out of the questions and out of the replies from your interviewee. You tell it like it is, to the best of your ability.

If one wants to avoid smearing all Muslims with the unsavory example of certain leaders, you seek out a wide variety of Muslims and report on the various viewpoints in the community. But you ask the hard questions and report the answers. You go for the truth, whatever it may be. That’s journalism – or at least journalism as it should be.

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