Friday, June 30, 2006

She brings down the Dutch government

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (or rather the fuss over her citizenship) has brought down the government of Jan Peter Balkenende.

When Rita Verdonk, the Immigration Minister, announced this week that a 'legal' way out of the Ali citizenship affair had been found, her crow of victory was accompanied by a letter from Ali herself exonerating Verdonk and saying that she would have done the same in her place. Evidently, Ali was leant on to write this letter, which she did because ending the controversy was "much more important for me than a bit of pride".

Now one of the minority parties in the governing coalition has decided that it can no longer take part in a cabinet that includes Rita Verdonk. Balkenende must go to the country and take Verdonk with him, it seems.

Articles here and here.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Long-Legged Fly

That civilisation may not sink,
Its great battle lost,
Quiet the dog, tether the pony
To a distant post;
Our master Caesar is in the tent
Where the maps are spread,
His eyes fixed upon nothing,
A hand under his head.
(Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.)

That the topless towers be burnt
And men recall that face,
Move most gently if move you must
In this lonely place.
She thinks, part woman, three parts a child,
That nobody looks; her feet
Practise a tinker shuffle
Picked up on a street.
(Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
Her mind moves upon silence.)

That girls at puberty may find
The first Adam in their thought,
Shut the door of the Pope's chapel,
Keep those children out.
There on that scaffolding reclines
Michael Angelo.
With no more sound than the mice make
His hand moves to and fro.
(Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.)

William Butler Yeats
There are a hundred reasons to love this poem. But just one for now. The way you have to pronounce (if you read it aloud) "Michael Angelo" so so slowly. It is after all a whole line; the name stretches from the start to the end of the line and you must stretch with it. He does this throughout the poem. The syntax and choice of words force you to pitch your voice and rhythm precisely. You can't help but intone it. It is like a chant recited to induce the very state that is its subject.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Kids forever

Now doesn't this explain a lot? Psychological maturity comes much later than it used to and sometimes doesn't come at all. Not out of any willful refusal to grow up and accept adult responsibilities (though that may well be one of the consequences), but because of the needs of our economy and therefore of our educational system. Thus maintains Professor Bruce Charlton of the School of Biology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. It's called psychological neoteny (neoteny: The persistence in the reproductively-mature adult of characters usually associated with the immature organism).

A “child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge” is probably adaptive to the increased instability of the modern world, Charlton believes. Formal education now extends well past physical maturity, leaving students with minds that are, he said, “unfinished.”

“The psychological neoteny effect of formal education is an accidental by-product — the main role of education is to increase general, abstract intelligence and prepare for economic activity,” he explained.

“But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility."
Now when you read the next paragraph, do any names spring to mind?
"People such as academics, teachers, scientists and many other professionals are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact.”
Speaking of which, I refer you to this post from April for another take on the same phenomenon.

(via Tim Blair)

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Hirsi Ali to remain Dutch

All's well that ends well, it seems. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not to be stripped of her Dutch citizenship after all.

It turns out that she was, according to Somali law, entitled to use the name Ali so the lie that threatened her status (that she'd used Ali instead of her father's surname, Megan) turns out to be illegal in intention though not in fact. This legal nicety was uncovered by a Parliamentary enquiry into the affair; Hirsi Ali herself was unaware of it.

"I didn‘t know it, but legally speaking, I was allowed to use the name Hirsi Ali in the Netherlands. So I shouldn‘t have said that I lied about that. In the end I wasn‘t lying ... I was dumb," she said.
Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk announced this triumphantly in Parliament as a resolution within the law of a thorny problem. Previously, the Parliament had voted that, should Ali have her citizenship revoked, it must immediately be offered to her again.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

James Lileks' Bleat

This guy can write. Not only is he sensible; not only is he knowledgeable; but he puts it down with such verve that you whiz through it just gathering up 'Yeah!'s as you go. Here he is on an old hobbyhorse of mine, but he rides it so much better.

We’re always held up to the most peculiar standards. Our motives are base, our freedoms illusory or rationed or insufficient. It matters less that a freedom was granted in 1920; what’s truly illustrative of this rotten house is the fact that it wasn’t granted in 1871. As thought the world has always been free, kings died when the first Caesar was stabbed, Papal bulls since 500 AD have boiled down to “oh, whatev” and the entire world was a grand placid Sweden, where civilized people nibbled on crackers and tried to ignore the rude Yank on the lawn firing off his blunderbuss for no particular reason. You can site a hundred stories about French racism all you like, but it won’t matter because they applauded Josephine Baker’s nightclub routines in Paris in the 20s.

But now there’s no hope of absolution. The tipping point is past. Darkness falls. The mask is off. The rough beast slouches. Cliches accumulate. The weight of the past swamps the boat, and faith in the future drowns alongside the ability to take pleasure in the present. “The world’s least free place for making movies is the US.” [Ang Lee] How true, how true.

What’s the Keats line? Half in love with easeful death. It is easier and more satisfying to number yourself among the elect who mutter the funereal rites than stand up on a box and shout dammit, we’re still alive! We enter our fourth century taking for granted freedoms that were unimagined in our first.

...A little faith, that’s all I’m asking. Faith and perspective.
A big ask, that.

(From The Bleat - Friday, June 23)

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

A blind eye (or two)

Poll: who did 9/11?
These poll results have received quite a lot of attention to which I would just like to add a question. Why is it that French Muslims are the only ones with sufficient grasp of the real world to acknowledge the bleeding obvious?

One interpretation regarding the many who believe that Arabs did not carry out the attacks would be that they are so horrified by them that they shrink from acknowledging a connection with the perpetrators. It may also be that once you see yourself as a victim, you clutch at anything that makes you feel better (ie stronger).

(via Dinocrat)

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Cultural exports booming

One of those articles asking, 'Why don't we feel better about this?' This being 'cultural products'. The journalist, Richard Morrison, mentions some recent successes: Ken Loach winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes with The Wind that Shakes the Barley; the design of a shop in New York by Thomas Heatherwick (he of The B of the Bang); Alan Bennett’s The History Boys grabbing six Tony Awards and drawing full houses all year; the London Symphony Orchestra bringing the St Petersburg house down with two Shostakovich symphonies. In addition,

According to Unesco, we export £6 billion of cultural products each year, mostly thanks to music and theatre.
Of course, there's a 'but'. And, of course, it's a failure of government.
This Government has not been as stingy towards the arts as some of its predecessors, though its per capita cultural spending is still only a half of Germany’s and less than a third of France’s.
Authority's sins don't end there. The thrust of the National Curriculum towards basic skills has maintained the 'apartheid' in this country whereby it is only a 'middle-class minority' that takes advantage of its cultural life. In addition, the looming Olympic Games threaten to divert funding away from the Arts towards sport.

I have always thought that one of the strengths of the UK, as of the US, is that culturally it not all top down. It is not just a matter of decisions made by quangos redirecting taxes towards worthy projects. Anglo-Saxon pop music is, to my limited knowledge, still largely a matter of what the 'street' decides. Without wishing government money away, I would have thought the aim is not to increase it, nor to worry too much about who attends the gala occasions, but to allow talent to rise and flourish. The figure quoted above for cultural exports would seem to indicate that this is happening.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ilana Mercer - Gender Politics

I'd never heard of Ilana Mercer. Today I read this quote on Samizdata

The argument for collectivism is simple if false; it is an immediate emotional argument. The argument for individualism is subtle and sophisticated; it is an indirect rational argument.
and, out of idle curiosity, hit the link to its source. The speaker of the words above was Milton Friedman in his introduction to (surprise, surprise) The Road to Serfdom.

The speaker of the words below was Ilana Mercer. This is a small selection - I could reprint the entire interview with approval.

On what what feminism has inflicted on us all:
There’s the “smaller” stuff—the deconstruction of text and art in the academy, with the result that students are robbed of great literature and art. They learn that Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and T. S. Eliot were chauvinist pigs, and they analyze great works of art through a grim and distorting prism. A cultural Marxism of sorts.

In my book I point out that “the great and singular achievements of the West—from ancient Greece, through the Enlightenment, to the industrial and scientific revolutions of modern times—were products of a historically unprecedented union of rationality, morality, objectivity, and passion.” But we’ve expunged reason, objectivity, individualism, and self-responsibility from our institutions. In their place we’ve elevated irrationalism, subjectivity, collectivism, self-indulgence, statism.
What about equality?
So the only equality I want to see is equality under the law. If women ever make up 50 percent of physics and engineering departments, I’ll know that the artificial—and coercive, because it deploys state power—notion of gender equality has triumphed completely.

So, I reject gender equality in the sense you mean it. Gender justice (that’s perhaps a better term) will come about when a natural aristocracy is allowed to rise to the top—individuals who constitute the best of man and woman alike. For this to occur, government must stay out of hiring, firing, and legislating admissions into institutes of learning.
Is it love that I feel, or just great gratitude?

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Consoling illusion

Palazzo Taverna: 16C fountain
This is a photograph I've borrowed from an Italian blogger, Massim. F., a Turinese living in Rome who posts snaps of the city and environs often accompanied by interesting reflections. It shows the view through the passageway under Palazzo Taverna (once Palazzo degli Orsini) in Piazza Dell'Orologio.

I like it because it does, if only a little, something once quite common: it creates an illusion, which is the possibility of a greater space. I mean the space to the either side of the fountain - just looking in, it is impossible to say how far that courtyard extends to the left and right. Might there not even be a park? The fountain itself is half-enclosed in the green of the hedge and the creepers spill from the arched entrance - might not the green go on and on?

I know from experience what a relief such a view is after a day spent on and among the stones of the city. It's like drinking a long glass of chilled water on a stone-baked afternoon. The eye is spared for a moment the hard straight lines of buildings and monuments - in foliage, lines are fragmented, fractalised. Green is a cool, refreshing colour and the water of the fountain dances with all the energy that you have spent walking on stone and asphalt.

Just as important to the illusion is the view throught the darkness of the vaulted passageway. The light at the other end contributes to the sense of greater and different space there.

Do architects design such consolations now, or were they banned never to return by the rigorous demand for 'honesty' made by the Modernists (may they suffer a thousand lashes)?

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Romani ite domum

The benefits of a Public School Education. From the film that informed my political outlook.


The War Works Hard

Read The War Works Hard by the Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail over at The Middle Stage. Chandrahas Choudhury is a window into a larger world, his tastes are catholic and international and he's never posted a poem that I haven't liked. This one is very good indeed for precisely the reasons that Choudhury gives. It doesn't hoist itself onto the moral high ground; it doesn't denounce; its tone is an 'adult' one and its understanding mature and broad.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Dramatic waters and Romans

Wast Water
My first visit to the Lakes (yes, I am slow) included Wast Water and this view of the scree slope plumetting into its dark waters. I know drama (or a memento mori) when I see it and pay due attention.

We drove then towards Hardknot Pass at least in part because there was a Roman fort marked on the map. Eyes left in anticipation of a few scattered rocks recalling a military order of long ago or a wilderness watchtower over acres of not very much. The road rises as if with spiritual ambitions. Did I say 'road'? It was about a foot wider than the car and kept trying to shake us off. I dropped down to first gear and strained on upwards. Eventually we see a car parked and a small group wandering as-if-aimfully across the hillside. We do likewise and find this!

A classic Roman fort, the same size as Housesteads on the Wall, that would have housed a cohort (about 500 men). It might have been called Mediobogdum, which I, for one, don't think it deserved. I am, as always, lost in admiration for the sheer bloodymindedness of it all, the we'll-build-it-just-the-same-as-we-would-on-the-Padana-Plain nonchalance.

This is the view looking towards Hardknot Pass.

From Mediobogdum looking towards Hardknot Pass
And this is looking west.

From Mediobogdum looking west
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Saturday, June 17, 2006

The logic of horror

I'd like to recommend very highly this article from signandsight by Götz Aly about the Historikerstreit. The "Historians' Dispute" erupted after Ernst Nolte put forward the view that the Holocaust should be viewed not in isolation, but as part of a much broader social current in the 20th Century. As it came out at the time, it seemed that he was playing the moral equivalence game so familiar to us now. Götz Aly maintains that, though Nolte placed the emphasis wrongly, his attempt was a worthwhile one and that any understanding of the Holocaust must be based on an analysis of forces far greater and historically deeper than Nazism.

For example,

In World Wars, in revolutions and also in peace treaties, [Europeans] put two old ideas into bloody practice: national and social homogenization. These two concepts – often together as an explosive cocktail – inspired the masses to free themselves from misery, from the constraints of tradition, and to speed their journey to a better life by means of violence. Sameness within a large, precisely-defined group promised security, individual liberty was considered a threat. The inviolability of the human individual and of entire groups considered enemies was sacrificed to collective regression.
There's a lot more. Read it all.

Another excellent article
by the same writer on Hitler's welfare state.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Fall of Rome, again

This article considers the possibility of the collapse of Western civilisation not dissimilar to that of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century.

The causes:

  • large immigrant groups with little allegiance to their host countries — a "reverse colonisation"

  • a security breakdown brought on by environmental destruction and a population boom, coupled with technology and radical Islam

  • the competition for resources

  • mass population movements
He pinpoints 2012 to 2018 as the time when the current global power structure is likely to crumble. Rising nations such as China, India, Brazil and Iran will challenge America’s sole superpower status.
This will come as "irregular activity" such as terrorism, organised crime and "white companies" of mercenaries burgeon in lawless areas.
The fall of Rome was not a cataclysm resulting from one lost battle or campaign, but occurred over seven decades. There were many purely military invasions, but it can also be seen as a large scale migration that the imperial authorities were powerless to contain. Many peoples participated: Vandals, Goths, Sueves, Alans often chased out of their own lands by the Huns. They did not come to destroy, but to gain control over the fertile lands and efficient governance of a far more socially advanced system. The Romans of the centre as much as of the provinces no longer had the means to hold them back and so reached accommodations with them, arrangements that soon were tipped upside down as the barbarians took over the top posts.

It has become fashionable in academic circles to heap scorn on the idea that Rome fell; we should see it, they say, as a gradual transformation into the Middle Ages, of one civilisation into another. The thrust of this is obvious. If talk of collapse is meaningless, therefore it is equally meaningless to speak of a 'civilisation' falling. One civilisation merely became another civilisation. And since it is clearly just typical Western arrogance to prefer the earlier civilisation to the later, it is absurd to speak of a catastrophe in the West.

Same old nonsense. The article quotes some similar rubbish. Terry Jones:
We actually owe far more to the so-called ‘barbarians’ than we do to the men in togas.
Really? Then how come no-one noticed? Black is white and 2 + 2 makes 5. If you keep saying it long enough, everyone will eventually believe it.

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(via Ninme)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

If this isn't nice, what is?

I heard an interview with Kurt Vonnegut earlier today in which he spoke briefly about his uncle. The philosophy that this man passed on to his nephew was a very simple one. That when the moments of happiness, well-being, contentedness happen along, we should appreciate them and pass on our appreciation. He himself did this with the words, 'If this isn't nice, what is?'

Later I played squash with my mate, P, and then we took our tired bodies to the Marble Beer House in Chorlton, where they sell the wonderful ales of James Campbell (of the Marble Arch in Rochdale Road). The evening was cool, cloudy but not grey, the light soft and gentle on everything it touched. We'd played well, and in that knowledge could now sit and talk about things little and great sipping a craftman's beer in the long evening light. If that's not nice, what is?


Monday, June 12, 2006


Why do people expect so much? Tell me that.

Who expects most: the ones that pay you or the ones that love you?

Why is procrastination so vilified when it is by far the best method of increasing leisure time?

Why is shame inextricably linked with non-performance? How can the link be broken?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Cross of St George

A few notes as a contribution to the phenomenon of the resurgent Cross of St George.

Yesterday the nursery school had a red and white day. My children rarely participate in such events because either I don't ever realise that they're on, or because I forget. I'm not sure which one it was this time. Anyway, the colours were everywhere, not least on the nursery assistants, and everyone seemed very good-humoured about it.

Today at Sainsbury's, one of the supervisers had the flag painted on her cheeks and offered similar treatment to whoever passed. So both Sons 2 and 3 walked out with their faces bespattered in red and white.

It is all making some people very nervous. My wife for one, and a couple of our generation who spoke to us the other night about their severe misgivings. All three remembered the Seventies and the National Front marching under the Cross and no-one else, save a parish church or two, daring or wishing to unfurl it. Having been in another country at the time, I have no such associations and find it healthy.What was unhealthy was the neglect it used to suffer. There were good reasons for that.

When you manage an empire, from a country that is already an amalgam of three or four, it is good sense to stress the Union of all rather than the particular country that heads the Union. The empire is gone and even the Union is, if not shaky, certainly not the first claimant of loyalty. Much of the older sentiment had transformed into the universalist illusions of the Unitied Nations, but that is both unsustainable and increasingly ridiculous. The Cross of St George has been reclaimed by a majority that were otherwise orphaned of allegience. It doesn't belong to the nutters now, but to a country that is growing normal.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006


The most encouraging aspect of this minor victory is the fact that Al-Zarqawi's inner circle seems to have been pierced, that the allies have spies inside the insurgents' leadership. Most unlike Vietnam.

Stories to tell our children

One of the functions of history, though by no means the only one, is to keep us keeping on, to get us through the night. In this country, maintaining an air of normality in adversity seems to do the trick. Good manners when there is blood on the ground. Politeness when there is panic in the air.

You could turn to great victories like Waterloo, Trafalgar, El Alamein. However, though they may stiffen the neck with pride, they do not work in what is, after all, a far more likely occurence in the rest of life: defeat or when dogged resistence is called for. At those times, the memory of others and the vague expectations embodied in a myth-like national character are far more effective.

Magnus Linklater of the Times does good works by disseminating stories from the 7th of July bombings.

John, trapped underground at Edgware Road, is confronted by a woman screaming: “We are all going to die!” He then utters a line that could have come straight out of a grainy Second World War movie: “That might be the case,” he says, “but you still have your legs. Other people have lost their legs down the carriage, and are in a far worse state than you. Please could you stop screaming and calm down?” Which is, of course, what she does.

“Some guy was looking for his glasses,” says Michael. “Typical British mentality — he put them on, and one was blown out. He said, ‘At least I can see out of one eye. Thank you.” Jane describes helping passengers along the track, in the dark and smoke, at King’s Cross: “We then slowly, and in a very British way, queued as we walked down the tunnel — ‘After you’ — and stumbling, and holding people up.”
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Baby talk

A really good article on the development of language skills in babies. Actually, it's an extract from a book called The Human Voice by Anne Karpf.

It has been clear for some time (well, for all time to mothers) that the foetus is sensitive to the voice of the mother, to its pitch, intonation and intensity. Evidently, it starts very early indeed.

Thanks to modern ultrasound techniques it has become clear that foetuses begin to react to some sounds as early as 14 weeks, and from about 28 weeks' gestation respond to auditory stimulation.
This is interesting.
Before [eight to 10 months], babies reared in English-speaking households can still hear syllables that are distinct in Hindi, for example, but not in English - syllables that adult English speakers can no longer differentiate: their phonetic perception has been altered by linguistic experience. In some real phonetic sense, therefore, growing up entails loss. We become deaf to certain sounds: in order to master one language, we have to lose our sensitivity to all of them.
This is true, I think, for most knowledge. Being able to cope with the world requires the sort of pruning my father used to apply to our garden - radical, almost unforgiving (and resulting in extreme vocalisations from my mother). It is the only way to bring order to what otherwise would overwhelm us. The growth of awareness past a certain point doesn't result in enlightenment, but in paralysis. Science is a simplification of reality, a functional one, but a simplification nonetheless. The question is always, how effective is this simplification as opposed to that one.

Language does this. Just think of the variety of shapes and sizes and functions covered by the word 'table'. If we had to have distinct words for every different one, or even every different type, we would end up learning nothing else. Plato took this as evidence of the existence of an ideal (table). I take as a useful sloppiness, or generalisation. For the number of phenomena is infinite, but of words and the time to speak them, there are only finities.

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Cartoons, by the editor-in-chief

Joern Mikkelsen, the editor-in-chief of Jyllands Posten.

"Allow me to get a few fundamental things straight. No, Jyllands Posten is not owned by the Danish government. No, it is not an ultra-right pamplet, it is a liberal newspaper wholly independent of outside influences.

"No, we did not have a cynical, mean ambition to upset Muslims around the world. No, we did not have a cynical, mean ambition to upset Muslims in Denmark. No, we were not an accomplice of extreme anti-Muslim sentiment around the world.

"No, we did not seek to force a clash of civilisations."
From an article in the Guardian.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

The Prophet, Mill, Popper and Hayek

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is promising a book on the

Muslim treatment of gays. It will also feature the Prophet transported to modern-day New York, forced by three great western liberal philosophers, Mill, Popper and Hayek, to recognise the failure of many Muslim societies.
I wonder what the reaction will be.

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New eyes

I had a friend visit from the Old Country this weekend, someone who more than most visitors brings the gift of new eyes. I am always doubly grateful for such visits because added to the pleasure of seeing the person is the way that person's interest opens your eyes again to where you live. The path of your daily tread-tread (re)acquires something of the exotic - the ordinary becomes illuminated by another's interest.

Their attention often goes to the most unexpected thing. This weekend it was the maythorn, as he insisted on calling it. Quite correctly, too, as I found out. He could also have called it hawthorn, whitethorn, the May tree, quickthorn, haw, or the faerie tree. I can't believe that I have ignored such magnificence for so long. Or is this a particularly fruitful year? Suddenly it is everywhere I look, and such beautiful flowers. Their mark on the landscape is very delicate, a dry brush stroke, unlike the eye-breaking cacophony of the rhododendrons.

For your edification, hawthorn derives from Anglo-Saxon haegthorn, the first element of which means hedge. Whitethorn does not refer to the blossoms, but to the bark, pale compared to the blackthorn. According to this site, when found together with oak and ash it is "particularly potent". I'm not sure in what capacity. And if you've ever wondered why 'Here we go gathering nuts in May', when there aren't any, it may be because they were not nuts, but knots, of May blossoms.

The other dusting-down was of early industrial architecture. I have always been struck by the accidental beauty and lightness of square-cut buildings relieved by so much glass. My friend is only now taking an interest in the Industrial Revolution and is bowled over by them. Me, too. Again.

Styal Mill
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Friday, June 02, 2006

Divine compensation, please

Heine (the narrator) and Hegel look out at the firmament.

I spoke with great enthusiasm about the stars, calling them the dwellings of the blessed. But the master mumbled to himself: "The stars, hum, hum! the stars are just a shining disease on the sky!" – "For Gods' sake!" I cried, "you mean there is no happy place up there where virtue is rewarded after death?" But he, staring at me with his pale eyes, replied sharply: "You still expect divine compensation for looking after your ailing mother and for not poisoning your brother?"
From signandsight.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Flemming Rose and the European dilemma

Flemming Rose has a new article out on Spiegel in which he upturns the common interpretation of his publication of the 12 cartoons.

Those images in no way exceeded the bounds of taste, satire and humor to which I would subject any other Dane, whether the queen, the head of the church or the prime minister. By treating a Muslim figure the same way I would a Christian or Jewish icon, I was sending an important message: You are not strangers, you are here to stay, and we accept you as an integrated part of our life. And we will satirize you, too. It was an act of inclusion, not exclusion; an act of respect and recognition.
However, the article is more wide-ranging than that and contains an illuminating slice of autobiography.
I was raised on the ideals of the 1960s, in the midst of the Cold War. I saw life through the lens of the countercultural turmoil, adopting both the hippie pose and the political superiority complex of my generation. I and my high school peers believed that the West was imperialistic and racist. We analyzed decaying Western civilization through the texts of Marx and Engels and lionized John Lennon's beautiful but stupid tune about an ideal world without private property: "Imagine no possessions/ I wonder if you can/ No need for greed or hunger/ A brotherhood of man/ Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world."
(The stupidity of that song overwhelms whatever beauty it might have.)

The main thrust of the piece is Europe's dilemma and the impasse in which it finds itself due to its own policies. He maintains, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, that political correctness and cultural relativism must be cast aside so that the burgeoning Mulsim population of Europe can be integrated.

Rose looks to the US as an example of integration. He, like Bernard-Henri Lévy, distinguishes between the political definition of nationality there and the cultural one of European nations, and he calls for the latter to be superceded.
Europeans must show a willingness to jettison entrenched notions of blood and soil and accept people from foreign countries and cultures as just what they are, the new Europeans.
Finally, one splendid quote.
Mullah Krekar -- a Kurdish founder of Ansar al Islam who this spring was facing an expulsion order from Norway -- called our publication of the cartoons "a declaration of war against our religion, our faith and our civilization. Our way of thinking is penetrating society and is stronger than theirs. This causes hate in the Western way of thinking; as the losing side, they commit violence."
What a delicious irony. The West, as the losing side, commits violence. That is, it publishes cartoons. The winning side, on the other hand, bellylaughs and gets on with life. Right? How many died?

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Sentimentality is always knowing the ending.