Monday, March 31, 2008

The Fitna over Fitna

On Thursday, right-wing Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders released his controversial anti-Islam short film called Fitna on the video web site LiveLeak. Less than a day later, LiveLeak pulled the video "following threats to our staff of a very serious nature."

It is important to understand the context that led Wilders to make this film. In 2004, a Somali refugee turned Dutch MP named Ayaan Hirsi Ali teamed up with director Theo Van Gogh to make a short film called Submission that stridently criticized the treatment of women in Muslim societies. In November 2004, Van Gogh was murdered in the middle of Amsterdam by a radical Islamist named Mohammed Bouyeri. At his trial, Bouyeri justified his crime by stating that "I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet." Bouyeri pinned a note threatening Hirsi Ali to Van Gogh's body. She remains under threat to this day.

At the time of Van Gogh's murder, Wilders was already strongly critical of the growing number of Muslim immigrants in Dutch society. Authorities placed him under 24 hour security and he has lived that way ever since. Years of living under threat have made Wilders ever more radical in his views. Last year, he even called for Dutch authorities to ban the Koran, a thoroughly ridiculous idea.

Last November, Wilders announced that he would be making Fitna. In response, death threats were made against Wilders and his girlfriend on Islamist web sites.

I had the opportunity to watch Fitna shortly after it was posted. I found it a bit understated compared to the rumors. The film does chillingly illustrate the ideology of hate that motivates radical Islamists. However, the movie's fears over the consequences of Muslim immigration to the Netherlands seem overstated. It is the presence of Islamist ideology, not Muslims as people, that is the danger. Most importantly, by conflating Islamism and Islam, Wilders actually aids the former. As Steve Schippert pointed out, the film could almost serve as an Al Qa'ida propaganda video.

Regardless of the correctness of his views, however, Mr. Wilders has the right to express them without being threatened or murdered. Ironically, the vile threats that forced LiveLeak to pull his film only reinforce his point about the Islamist threat to free expression. Whatever its analytical or artistic flaws, ensuring that Fitna remains available is now an important battle on behalf of intellectual freedom against Islamism's global campaign of censorship.

Fortunately, LiveLeak has bravely stood up for free expression and reposted Fitna today, accompanied by the following statement:

On the 28th of March was left with no other choice but to remove the film "fitna" from our servers following serious threats to our staff and their families. Since that time we have worked constantly on upgrading all security measures thus offering better protection for our staff and families. With these measures in place we have decided to once more make this video live on our site. We will not be pressured into censoring material which is legal and within our rules. We apologise for the removal and the delay in getting it back, but when you run a website you don't consider that some people would be insecure enough to threaten our lives simply because they do not like the content of a video we neither produced nor endorsed but merely hosted.

Click here to watch Fitna for yourself and come to your own conclusion (warning-some disturbing content).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Choudhury Update

An op-ed piece from yesterday's Wall Street Journal offers some disturbing news regarding Bangladeshi editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury:

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of a weekly newspaper in Dhaka, was charged in January 2004 with sedition, a charge that has since been broadened to include treason, blasphemy and espionage. His real "crime" was to advocate for peaceful relations between Muslims and Jews in the Mideast and to call attention to the radical Islamist threat within Bangladesh. Pressure from the U.S. helped lead to his release on bail in April 2005, although the charges have not been dropped.

Now Dhaka is ratcheting up the pressure. On March 18, more than a dozen members of the government's Rapid Action Battalion stormed Mr. Choudhury's newspaper offices in Dhaka at gunpoint. After "discovering" illegal drugs in Mr. Choudhury's desk drawer, the RAB blindfolded Mr. Choudhury and a colleague and carted them to headquarters. There, Mr. Choudhury tells us, his interrogators accused him of being a "Zionist spy" and beat his colleague, Mahboob Ar Rahman, a 57-year-old man who had to seek medical treatment. The pair were released after midnight.

The RAB has a reputation for extreme thuggishness. Created in 2004 by the civilian government in place at the time, it is supposed to be an elite counter-terrorism force. As Mr. Choudhury left their custody, his RAB abductors told him that if he raised a fuss about the incident they'd return, perhaps to his home next time. He tells us the threats have continued for the past week.

The editorial notes that the House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to demand that the charges against Choudhury be dropped. These words need to be followed up with actions. The Bangladeshi government's persecution of Choudhury is both an individual outrage and an alarming symptom of the growth of Islamist militancy in that country. If it is allowed to stand unchallenged the eventual impact will be felt well beyond Bangladesh.

An American friend of Choudhury's, Richard Benkin, has a site called Interfaith Strength with much more on this situation.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Defiling the Holocaust

The Jerusalem Post reports on a thoroughly vile attempt to desecrate the meaning of the Holocaust:

A new exhibit in Gaza portrays the Jewish state burning Palestinian children in ovens.

A group called the National Committee for Defense of Children from the Holocaust unveiled its premier exhibit last week, entitled "Gaza: An exhibit describing the suffering of the children of the Holocaust."

Rather than teach about the Nazi genocide of European Jewry, the exhibit portrays Israel as the perpetrators of the holocaust; Palestinian children are "burned" in a model crematorium by "Israelis."

According to the Ramallah-based Al-Ayyam daily, "The exhibit includes a large oven and inside it small children are being burned. The picture speaks for itself."

(Emphasis added-DD)

Words fail me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Loneliness of a Conservative Librarian Blogger

It is with sadness that I note that Walter Skold's Freadom blog is no more. The site was a valuable forum for keeping the Cuban libraries issue alive and will be missed.

The conservative librarian blogosphere, a tiny subset of an already esoteric part of the blogging world, seems to be disappearing. Jack Stephens walked away from his excellent blog Conservator almost a year ago. Greg McClay, the dean of conservative librarian bloggers, hasn't posted anything new at SHUSH since early January. In fact, the only currently active blog I know of that is maintained by a professed conservative librarian, besides this one, is Norma's Collecting my Thoughts.

Annoyed Librarian remains, but she isn't necessarily right of center politically, except in terms of the Larry Summers scale that governs librarianship as it does academia. Sure, she mocks the pretensions of the radical activist left in our profession and the sometimes overwrought national reactions to local book challenges. Still, you don't necessarily have to be conservative to hold such views.

Everyone has their own reasons for blogging and their own reasons for eventually giving it up. If you put any thought and effort into blogging, you will be amazed how much time it consumes. Sooner or later, work or other responsibilities start taking away that time, or you get burned out and decide there are better ways to spend it. Believe it or not, I was seriously ready to give up blogging in the spring of 2005, until the Chronicle of Higher Education came e-mailing. Still, there does seem to be a trend and I think I know what it might be.

As I reflect on matters, it becomes clear that the conservative librarian blogosphere was a product of a specific point in time, a small reflection of the broader political polarization of the post 9/11-George W. Bush era. The library profession has been vocally and numerically dominated by liberals and leftists for decades. The "social responsibility" movement, which conflates proper librarianship with radical left-wing activism, has been around since the 1960s. Issues such as Internet filtering in libraries and the Cuban question were sources of controversy. However, as I wrote about in the Chronicle, it was not until after September 11 that the politicization of American librarianship became truly blatant.

Within two weeks after 9/11 I had forwarded to me both an e-mail message asking me to support Barbara Lee (the lone representative who opposed striking back against Al Qa'ida and the Taliban) and a missive from one Mr. Mark Rosenzweig laying down the party line that bin Laden and company were mere criminals and notions of radical Islam were nothing but government propaganda. These anecdotal incidents were merely the harbinger of a process that accelerated with the Iraq war and approach of the 2004 elections. The culmination was ALA's infamous 2004 annual conference in Orlando, which was really little more than a rally.

When I started this blog in June 2004, it was as much a form of catharsis as anything else. Sites like this one, Conservator and SHUSH (both of which preceded this blog), were a reaction not just to leftist politics, but to having such politics regularly thrown in our faces in professional settings. The Chronicle essay also fulfilled that role. However, the partisan passions of the last few years have begun to cool. Frankly I think that many are simply tired of the same arguments being made over and over (yes, I do it too). In my view, the decline in the already tiny number of conservative librarian blogs is one reflection of this trend. (It isn't just conservatives: John Berry, whom I had an interesting "dialogue" with just a year ago, abandoned his blog several months later.)

The simple truth is that not much has really changed in the last four years. At ALA Annual last year, a 35 minute discussion of whether ALA should take stands on non-library issues was followed up by a 75 minute keynote address from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. In addition, while the context has changed somewhat, the essential debate between the "social responsibility" vision of politicized librarianship and the idea that the profession should be politically neutral dates back to the 1970s and the work of David Berninghausen. This debate seems to have played itself out, at least for now.

You can only get angry so many times over topics such as ALA's heavy bias towards left of center speakers, ridiculous political resolutions and selective indignation on issues of intellectual freedom. Eventually, you begin to regard such phenomena as being akin to the Sun rising in the east. Also, you soon come to the realization that, as infuriating as such things are to some of us, the politics of the library profession are basically irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. If the best the radical left can do is conquer the American Library Association, something they have yet to fully achieve, then the "revolution" is indeed a long way off.

Probably the most amusing part of Mark Rosenzweig's gloriously over the top response to the Chronicle essay is when he accused me of of trying to create "a whole cottage industry of paid testimonials of right wing librarians
suffering the martyrdom of Tom Dooley at the hands of godless Communist librarians. A second career for a 'lonely conservative librarian"." Unfortunately, even had I wanted to pursue such an option, there was no market for it. I think my article was cited by Michelle Malkin when Laura Bush came to ALA in June 2006, but that was it. The great wave of conservative outrage over the politics of American librarians that so haunted Rosenzweig's fevered imagination failed to manifest itself, for the simple reason that almost no one cares about the politics of American librarians.

So, to end on a practical note, where does that leave this blog and its dozens (I hope) of loyal readers? For now, regular programming will continue. However, I too will be getting on the bandwagon and giving up blogging within the next several months. I have an upcoming commitment next year that is far more important and will require my full efforts. The disclaimer in the upper right corner should provide a clue.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Resilience of Radical Islam

Paul Berman wrote a provocative piece on the resilience of radical Islamism for Sunday's New York Times. While I'm not in agreement with all of his expressed views, he makes the vital point that Islamist ideology has developed over decades and continues to grow regardless of American policy. One reason for this resilience, as Berman points out, is the Islamist ability to silence their Muslim critics. Sadly, some Western intellectuals choose to wittingly or unwittingly abet this process:

I notice a little gloomily that I may have underestimated the extremist ideologies in still another respect. Five years ago, anyone who took an interest in Middle Eastern affairs would easily have recalled that, over the course of a century, the intellectuals of the region have gone through any number of phases — liberal, Marxist, secularist, pious, traditionalist, nationalist, anti-imperialist and so forth, just like intellectuals everywhere else in the world.

Western intellectuals without any sort of Middle Eastern background would naturally have manifested an ardent solidarity with their Middle Eastern and Muslim counterparts who stand in the liberal vein — the Muslim free spirits of our own time, who argue in favor of human rights, rational thought (as opposed to dogma), tolerance and an open society.

But that was then. In today’s Middle East, the various radical Islamists, basking in their success, paint their liberal rivals and opponents as traitors to Muslim civilization, stooges of crusader or Zionist aggression. And, weirdly enough, all too many intellectuals in the Western countries have lately assented to those preposterous accusations, in a sanitized version suitable for Western consumption.

Even in the Western countries, quite a few Muslim liberals, the outspoken ones, live today under a threat of assassination, not to mention a reality of character assassination. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-Dutch legislator and writer, is merely an exceptionally valiant example. But instead of enjoying the unstinting support of their non-Muslim colleagues, the Muslim liberals find themselves routinely berated in the highbrow magazines and the universities as deracinated nonentities, alienated from the Muslim world. Or they find themselves pilloried as stooges of the neoconservative conspiracy — quite as if any writer from a Muslim background who fails to adhere to at least a few anti-imperialist or anti-Zionist tenets of the Islamist doctrine must be incapable of thinking his or her own thoughts.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Different Side of Arab Culture

It is important to realize that while Islamist censorship exists throughout the Middle East, it is still not yet dominant. So, to provide some perspective, and for other rather obvious reasons, I refer you to this post at MEMRI's Arab Culture Blog.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Flemming Rose Answers Bin Laden

Earlier this week, for the second time in two years, Osama bin Laden threatened violence in retaliation for the Danish Muhammed cartoons.

Flemming Rose, who as culture editor for the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten was most responsible for the original publication of the cartoons, has a must read response to bin Laden posted at Pajamas Media. Rose concludes his piece by asking the crucial questions:

What should the response of Europe be? More cartoons or less cartoons? What kind of civilization are we, after all, if we refrain from mocking and ridiculing bin Laden and his followers?

Bin Laden Wants my Blood

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bin Laden Threatens Europe over Muhammed Cartoons

In an audiotape released yesterday, Osama bin Laden has threatened Europe with terror attacks because of the Danish Muhammed cartoons. Fox News has published a transcript of bin Laden's remarks, which are worth quoting for the insights they provide into his worldview:

And [you also know now] that these massacres are never erased from the memories of the peoples, and the effects of this are not hidden. Although our tragedy in your killing of our women and children is a very great one, it paled when you went overboard in your unbelief and freed yourselves of the etiquettes of dispute and fighting and went to the extent of publishing these insulting drawings. This is the greater and more serious tragedy, and reckoning for it will be more severe. And I bring your attention to a telling matter, which is that despite your publishing of the insulting drawings, you haven’t seen any reaction from the one and a half billion Muslims [about the] insult to the Prophet of Allah, Jesus the son of Mary (peace and prayers of Allah be upon him). We believe in all of the Prophets (peace and prayers be upon them), and whoever detracts from or mocks any one of them is an apostate unbeliever.

And here it is worth pointing out that there is no need to use as an excuse the sacredness you accord freedom of expression and the sacredness of your laws and how you won’t change them. If so, then on what basis were American soldiers exempt from being subject to your laws on your land? And on what basis do you suppress the freedom of those who cast doubt on the statistics of an historical event? In addition, you know that there is one man who can put an end to thee drawings, if it mattered to him: the crownless king in Riyadh, who ordered your legal institutions to stop their investigations into the embezzlement of billions from the al-Yamamah deal, and Blair carried this out, and he is today your representative in the Quartet. To sum up, then, the laws of men which clash with the legislations of Allah the Most High are null and void, aren’t sacred, and don’t matter to us. And in addition, your practical stance towards the al-Yamamah deal requires you to admit that there are some values which are greater than your values.

In closing, I tell you: If there is no check on the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions. And it is amazing and to make light of others that you talk about tolerance and peace at a time when your soldiers perpetrate murder even against the weak and oppressed in our countries. Then came your publishing of these drawings, which came in the framework of a new Crusade in which the Pope of the Vatican has played a large, lengthy role. And all of that is confirmation on your part of the continuation of the war, as well as a testing of the Muslims in their religion: Is the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) more beloved to them than themselves and their wealth? The answer is what you see, not what you hear, and [may] our mothers be bereaved of us if we fail to help the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). And peace be upon he who follows the guidance.

(Emphasis added-DD)

It is hard to know where to begin with these statements. Should one start with bin Laden's twisted notion that offensive drawings are somehow worse than killing women and children; or with his nauseating attempt to claim the moral high ground while acting as figurehead of a movement that has murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians? The moral and intellectual obscenity at the heart of bin Laden's beliefs virtually speak for themselves.

This is not the first time that bin Laden has called for censorship by murder. In April 2006, he demanded that the Danish cartoonists be handed over to Al Qaeda for trial and that "freethinkers and heretics who defame Islam, and mock and scorn our noble Prophet" should be killed. In the last two years there have been numerous jihadist threats made against Denmark, and against the Muhammed cartoonists in particular.

What this statement should do is remind us that, contrary to what some say, Osama bin Laden and his followers do in fact hate the Western vision of freedom and reserve the right to impose their barbarous totalitarian vision anywhere they see fit.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Taslima Nasreen Forced to Flee India

The BBC reports that Taslima Nasreen, the Bangladeshi novelist and frequent target of Islamist rage, has now left India:

"She has landed safely somewhere in Europe," a spokeswoman for the writers' group, Pen, told the BBC, adding that her exact location could not be given.

Ms Nasreen said earlier this week that her health had suffered as a result of spending time in hiding.

Ms. Nasreen had been living under virtual house arrest in the Indian city of Delhi since last November, when Islamist riots forced her to flee her home in Calcutta. She left her native Bangladesh in 1994, after Islamists demanded she be put to death for her novel Lajja (Shame) and that country's government brought charges against her. Since then, she has been regularly subjected to threats and intimidation. You can read more at her web site.

By forcing Taslima Nasreen to flee India, Islamists have gained yet another victory in their war against intellectual freedom. Hopefully, she will finally be able to find safe haven in Europe. However, as the examples of Theo Van Gogh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Kurt Westergaard show, Ms. Nasreen's safety there is far from assured.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Imprisoned by Books

Christopher Hitchens has an entertaining piece on the City Journal web site about the travails of having an apartment overrun with books. Except for the part about getting most of them for free, I can definitely relate and I suspect I'm not the only one:

I live in a fairly spacious apartment in Washington, D.C. True, the apartment is also my office (though that’s no excuse for piling books on the stove). But for some reason, the available shelf space, which is considerable, continues to be outrun by the appearance of new books. It used to be such a pleasure to get one of those padded envelopes in the mail, containing a brand-new book with the publisher’s compliments. Now, as I collect my daily heap of these packages from my building’s concierge, I receive a pitying look.

Prisoner of Shelves

"I am very pessimistic about the possibility of making real changes in our culture and society."

Yesterday was the final day of Saudi Arabia's largest literary event, the Riyadh Book Fair. Certain radical Wahhabi clerics have chosen to commemorate the event in sadly typical fashion, by issuing a fatwa calling for a boycott of several participating publishers. The MEMRI Blog explains their reasoning:

The companies were selling books by Arab thinkers and poets known for their liberal views, such as Nasser Hamad Abu Zayed, Adonis, and Nizar Qabbani.

The clerics stated that these books were more dangerous than drugs, and that they corrupt the religion.

Not to be outdone, one of Saudi Arabia's most senior clerics has come out with a new fatwa of his own. Reuters has the details:

Saudi Arabia's most revered cleric said in a rare fatwa this week that two writers should be tried for apostasy for their "heretical articles" and put to death if they do not repent.

Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak was responding to recent articles in al-Riyadh newspaper that questioned the Sunni Muslim view in Saudi Arabia that adherents of other faiths should be considered unbelievers.

"Anyone who claims this has refuted Islam and should be tried in order to take it back. If not, he should be killed as an apostate from the religion of Islam," said the fatwa, or religious opinion, dated March 14 and published on Barrak's Web site.

"It is disgraceful that articles containing this kind of apostasy should be published in some papers of Saudi Arabia, the land of the two holy shrines," he said, referring to Muslim holy places in Mecca and Medina.

(Emphasis added-DD; link via Hot Air)

It is little wonder that the climate for free expression in Saudi Arabia is so disastrous when the sign of a "moderate" cleric is that he merely calls for an objectionable book to be boycotted as opposed to wanting the author murdered.

On March 12, MEMRI posted some excerpts from a television interview with reformist Saudi intellectual Turki Al-Hamad. Less than two years ago, Osama bin Laden condemned Al-Hamad as a "freethinker" and openly called for his murder. In his interview, Al-Hamad shed further light on how Wahhabism has eroded free expression in Saudi Arabia and indeed the region:

"The taboos in Saudi Arabia are different from the taboos in Lebanon, and from the taboos in Egypt, and so on, even though I believe that in all these countries, they tend to view the taboo itself as fundamental. This was not the case in the past. I believe that we've reached the point where everything is ruled by prohibitions. Everything is prohibited unless it is proven to be permitted. This is the problem of Arab society and culture. Instead of making progress, we are regressing - and if only we were regressing in a reasonable manner. Unfortunately, we are regressing in a superstitious and unreasonable manner."


"In the past, our society was more open, more accepting of other opinions and different behavior. But the so-called 'religious awakening' - and I regard it as a religious 'slumber,' not as an awakening - especially with regard to the Iranian revolution, and the Juhaiman movement, [which took over] the Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca in 1979... Everything has turned upside down. The dead have taken control over the living. Juhaiman, for example, had very backward ideas. He was killed, and his movement was eliminated, but ultimately, his ideas were implemented. The ideology of Juhaiman, and the Salafi ideology in general, has spread throughout the Arab world - and it is not what can be called the enlightened Salafi ideology, which was evident in the early 20th century among some Islamic thinkers." [...]

(Emphasis added-DD)

It comes as no surprise that Al-Hamad is pessimistic about the long-term prospects for his society:

"After this period of my life, I am very pessimistic about the possibility of making real changes in our culture and society. I hope I am wrong. In any case, this does not mean we should not try. Future generations will ask what we did about this. At least we tried, at least we made our voice heard. Time will tell whether we were successful in achieving any result. But I am not optimistic, and as time goes by, I am becoming more pessimistic about this."

There have been some recent signs of change in Saudi Arabia. However, as long as Wahhabi clerics are permitted to practice censorship via condemnation and death threat, real reform is unlikely to occur and the ideology of hate that spawned Al Qaeda will continue to regenerate.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Berkeley: A Video Update

I had intended to do an update on the anti-Marine jihad taking place in Berkeley, California. However, courtesy of Hot Air, I find that the Daily Show (yes, the Daily Show) has come up with the final word on the struggle for Berkeley:

The worldview of the Code Pink members and their allies pretty much speaks for itself. Just in case, though, I do have one more relevant video to link:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Librarian in Iraq

Courtesy of LISNews, Sunday's New York Times describes how a librarian from Chappaqua, NY, has ended up as an embedded journalist in Iraq:

WHY would someone give up a cozy life in this leafy bedroom community for the muck and peril of writing about our soldiers in Iraq, without even a paycheck as consolation?

Shelby Monroe, a librarian here, did just that. Footloose at 44, with no journalism experience, she persuaded the 101st Airborne Division to let her be embedded, not once but twice in the past two years. As you’re reading this, she’s at a base somewhere south of Samarra in a sky-blue flak jacket purchased on eBay and a helmet that hides her honey-brown hair, sleeping in her own trailer and figuring out how to share latrines and showers with the men.

Through her laptop, this combat correspondent is posting blogs with titles like “The Adventures of a Restless Librarian in Iraq” and articles for the Mount Kisco and Pleasantville Examiner weekly newspapers and for a weekly in Tennessee.

Ms. Monroe has not one but two blogs where she is recording her experiences and observations. They both look like interesting reads with plenty of photos. I applaud her courage.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Video of the Night

My apologies for the lack of recent posts. In lieu of regular programming, I offer you this brilliant video clip that I came across via Red State. Even some liberals are starting to be creeped out by the Barack Obama personality cult. Few things are more frightening than seeing cynical hipsters turn into glassy eyed believers almost overnight. Sorry, Michelle, but you'll have to pry my cynicism from my cold dead fingers:

(BTW, the song is Cake's Comfort Eagle)

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Demise of Antioch College

Charlotte Allen, author of a must-read essay on the sad decline of Antioch College, reports that the institution is once again slated to close.

The story of Antioch is a cautionary tale about what happens to an educational institution when an imposed radical orthodoxy replaces a commitment to free inquiry. Allen summarizes this process in her latest post, and notes its devastating consequences:

The result of all this was, well, the kind of campus where radical feminists called the shots. So did radicals of every other stripe, creating a student culture of aggressive leftist ideology and enforced political correctness that was quite the opposite of what had prevailed during the freewheeling 1960s. In 2005, for example, Antioch's graduating class chose as its commencement speaker the former Black Panther and convicted cop-murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Those who didn't like that kind of thing could leave - and they did, or they signed up elsewhere..

During the 1950s Antioch was almost as hard to get into as Harvard. Its graduates included Coretta Scott King, wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, and Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. By 2007, Antioch was begging for students on a now mostly-empty campus and running chronic deficits. There are lessons to be learned from its imminent demise. One is there isn't much of a market for ultra-radicalism, at least at a private college where the price of attendance is nearly $40,000 a year. The other is that college administrators who capitulate to extremes of campus faddishness do so at their institutions' peril.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"The floors are littered with holy books covered in blood."

Earlier today, a Palestinian terrorist entered the library of a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem and opened fire with an AK-47. Here is how two rescue workers described the aftermath, according to the BBC:

"When we got in after the police guys sterilised the place, there was a terrible scene.

"We saw young guys, 15-, 16-year-old guys lying on the floor with their Bibles in their hands, all dead on the floor because the terrorist guys went inside the place and killed those eight or nine young guys who were only here learning in Jerusalem."


Yehuda Meshi Zahav, head of the Zaka rescue service, entered the library after the attack.

"The whole building looked like a slaughterhouse," he told the Associated Press news agency. "The floor was covered in blood. The students were in class at the time of the attack.

"The floors are littered with holy books covered in blood."

There is no cause or grievance that can even begin to justify such barbarism.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Reading the "Wrong" Book

In a mind-boggling instance of political correctness run amok, the Affirmative Action Office at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has warned a janitor at the school, Mr. Keith John Sampson, not to read a particular book in front of certain coworkers. Indianapolis's alternative weekly, Nuvo, explains how this Orwellian situation arose:

Sampson is an avid reader. It’s been his habit to bring books to work with him, so that he can read in the break room when he’s not on the clock. Last year, Sampson was working in IUPUI’s Medical Science building. It turns out the break room there is across from the morgue, which, as Sampson pointed out, is kind of ironic when you stop to think about it.

At the time, Sampson was reading a book he had checked out from the public library. Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan, published in 2004, features a photograph of the University of Notre Dame’s famous golden dome on the cover. Its author is Todd Tucker, the publisher is Loyola Press of Loyola University in Chicago.


Sampson recalls that his AFSCME shop steward told him that reading a book about the Klan was like bringing pornography to work. The shop steward wasn’t interested in hearing what the book was actually about. Another time, a coworker who was sitting across the table from Sampson in the break room commented that she found the Klan offensive. Sampson says he tried to tell her about the book, but she wasn’t interested in talking about it.

(Emphasis added-DD)

Unfortunately, this bizarre inability to distinguish between studying the Klan and supporting the Klan would lead to an affirmative action complaint being filed against Mr. Sampson. Please read the rest, including an update, by clicking here.

(Link courtesy of Say Anything, via Pajamas Media)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Exhibit Closed in Berlin

In September 2006, a Berlin opera house temporarily canceled a production of Mozart's Idomeneo because it included the severed head of the Prophet Muhammed. Earlier this week, in the same city, a satirical art exhibit containing a picture of the Kaaba with an irreverent caption was closed. In both cases, the closures were due to concerns over possible violent retaliation from angry Islamists. However, as Der Spiegel explains, there is a crucial difference between these two incidents:

...Whereas the mere spectre of possible attacks was enough to get the Deutsche Oper to put the kibosh on a Mozart opera in 2006, Berlin's Galerie Nord closed its doors this week after a group of Muslims walked into the gallery and threatened staff with violence.

"It was a very explosive situation," Jan Egesborg, whose satirical art group Surrend created the Galerie Nord exhibition, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "We don't want to be part of the current Islamophobic tendency in Europe. We weren't trying to provoke Muslims."

The exhibition, called "ZOG -- Surrend," opened last Friday and was scheduled to run until the end of March. Conceived by the controversial Danish satirical art group, it included a picture of the black, cube-shaped Kaaba in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Above the image, a headline read "Dumb Stone." Gallery manager Ralf Hartmann decided on Tuesday to shut down the show after six men believed to have been Muslims turned up demanding that the image be removed. The men reportedly threatened the staff with violence should they not comply.

(Emphasis added-DD)

Fortunately, it appears that the exhibit will proceed once additional security has been obtained:

The gallery is now in negotiations with the Berlin authorities in a bid to get 24-hour police protection, so that the exhibition can be re-opened, hopefully by Tuesday of next week. Egesborg said it was vital the exhibition continue. "If the radical Muslims are successful, then it means a mob can curate an exhibition in a museum," he said. "It would be dangerous for art in Europe, as it would give a good example of what threats can achieve."

(Emphasis added-DD)

In a free society, people have every right to criticize and even condemn expression they disagree with. What they are not allowed to do is threaten violence in order to silence viewpoints that offend them. Such a tactic strikes at the very heart of free expression, which is precisely why Islamists engage in it.