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Visit the BatesLine Op-Ed Page for today's batch of columns from TownHall, National Review, American Spectator, and the Wall Street Journal.
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Before you vote on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, check out...
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the Oklahoma 2014 General Election,
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Full archive of BatesLine coverage of the
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Complete coverage of SB 906 and the ongoing effort to fool the Oklahoma legislature into giving away our electoral votes by means of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact:
- Betrayal: Oklahoma Senate passes National Popular Vote bill
- Stanislawski recants National Popular Vote support
- Allen, Brecheen recant National Popular Vote support
- Oklahoma legislators invited to electoral vote "seminars" in exotic locales
- National Popular Vote's Ray Haynes lobbies Oklahoma grassroots activists
"Key to Islam's role in public life is Sharia and the many untenable demands it makes on Muslims. Running a government with the minimal taxes permitted by Sharia has proved to be unsustainable; and how can one run a financial system without charging interest? A penal system that requires four men to view an adulterous act in flagrante delicto is impractical. Sharia's prohibition on warfare against fellow Muslims is impossible for all to live up to; indeed, roughly three-quarters of all warfare waged by Muslims has been directed against other Muslims. Likewise, the insistence on perpetual jihad against non-Muslims demands too much.
"To get around these and other unrealistic demands, premodern Muslims developed certain legal fig leaves that allowed for the relaxation of Islamic provisions without directly violating them. Jurists came up with hiyal (tricks) and other means by which the letter of the law could be fulfilled while negating its spirit. For example, various mechanisms were developed to live in harmony with non-Muslim states. There is also the double sale (bai al-inah) of an item, which permits the purchaser to pay a disguised form of interest. Wars against fellow Muslims were renamed jihad.
"This compromise between Sharia and reality amounted to what I dubbed Islam's "medieval synthesis" in my book In the Path of God (1983). This synthesis translated Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands....
"For anti-Islamist Muslims, the great burden is to develop not just an alternative vision to the Islamist one but an alternative movement to Islamism. The Islamists reached their position of power and influence through dedication and hard work, through generosity and selflessness. Anti-Islamists must also labor, probably for decades, to develop an ideology as coherent and compelling as that of the Islamists, and then spread it. Scholars interpreting sacred scriptures and leaders mobilizing followers have central roles in this process.
"Non-Muslims can help a modern Islam move forward in two ways: first, by resisting all forms of Islamism--not just the brutal extremism of an Osama bin Laden, but also the stealthy, lawful, political movements such as Turkey's AKP. Erdoğan is less ferocious than Bin Laden, but he is more effective and no less dangerous. Whoever values free speech, equality before the law, and other human rights denied or diminished by Sharia must consistently oppose any hint of Islamism.
"Second, non-Muslims should support moderate and Westernizing anti-Islamists. Such figures are weak and fractured today and face a daunting task, but they do exist, and they represent the only hope for defeating the menace of global jihad and Islamic supremacism, then replacing it with an Islam that does not threaten civilization."
"Islam's current reformation follows the same logic of the Protestant Reformation - specifically by prioritizing scripture over centuries of tradition and legal debate - but with antithetical results that reflect the contradictory teachings of the core texts of Christianity and Islam...."
Ibrahim quotes Daniel Pipes on the milder, medieval version of Islam crafted by scholars, but disconnected from the foundational texts and history: "translat[ing] Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands [as stipulated in the Koran and Hadith] into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands[.] ... [However, w]hile the medieval synthesis worked over the centuries, it never overcame a fundamental weakness: It is not comprehensively rooted in or derived from the foundational, constitutional texts of Islam. Based on compromises and half measures, it always remained vulnerable to challenge by purists."
"How Christianity and Islam can follow similar patterns of reform but with antithetical results rests in the fact that their scriptures are often antithetical to one another. This is the key point, and one admittedly unintelligible to postmodern, secular sensibilities, which tend to lump all religious scriptures together in a melting pot of relativism without bothering to evaluate the significance of their respective words and teachings."
Ibrahim compares the statements of the New Testament and the Koran on tolerance, apostasy, marriage, and lying. He writes:
"It is precisely because Christian scriptural literalism lends itself to religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women that Western civilization developed the way it did - despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.
"And it is precisely because Islamic scriptural literalism is at odds with religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women that Islamic civilization is the way it is - despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.
Those in the West waiting for an Islamic "reformation" along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation, on the assumption that it will lead to similar results, must embrace two facts: 1) Islam's reformation is well on its way, and yes, along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation - with a focus on scripture and a disregard for tradition - and for similar historic reasons (literacy, scriptural dissemination, etc.); 2) but because the core teachings of the founders and scriptures of Christianity and Islam markedly differ from one another, Islam's reformation is producing something markedly different.
"Put differently, those in the West calling for an "Islamic reformation" need to acknowledge what it is they are really calling for: the secularization of Islam in the name of modernity, and the trivialization and sidelining of Islamic law from Muslim society....
"That would not be a "reformation" - certainly nothing analogous to the Protestant Reformation.
"Upholding the literal teachings of Christianity is possible within a secular - or any - state. Christ called on believers to "render unto Caesar the things of Caesar [temporal] and unto God the things of God [spiritual]" (Matt. 22:21). For the "kingdom of God" is "not of this world" (John 18:36)....
"On the other hand, mainstream Islam is devoted to upholding the law, and Islamic scripture calls for a fusion between Islamic law - sharia - and the state."
"Don't waste your uploads progress! If you had to abandon your upload for any reason, you have up to 24 hours to continue uploading where you left off. Just go back to youtube.com/upload and select the same file from your computer."
A historic Fun-Ful Ocean Wave merry-go-round, a spinning and rocking staple of school playgrounds in the first half of the 20th century, has been reconstructed on the grounds of the Pioneer Townsite museum in Frederick, OK, but it's been frozen in position -- too dangerous in the modern view.
A guest post by Ree's husband, Ladd Drummond, about the menace to ranching and the natural environment posed by the eastern red cedar, an invasive species that sucks water out of the ground, reducing the native grasses available for grazing.
A tribute to the hard work and dues paid by B. B. King:
"Anyone enthralled by the popular misconception that a working musician's life is glamorous should contemplate what it was like for King and his band in the 1950s when, in addition to the ordinary hassles of life on the road, they also had to cope with the difficulties that Jim Crow-era segregation imposed. King's hard-earned status as the most commercially successful blues performer in history, however, required him to endure the ups and downs of a career affected by shifts in popular music tastes. In the early 1960s, he was actually booed in Baltimore by a young audience that was there to see the soul crooner Sam Cooke. King kept working -- playing more than 40 weeks on the road year after year -- until a new generation rediscovered the blues. British rockers like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, who had traced rock-and-roll back to its R&B roots, inspired a blues revival in the late 1960s....
"King was 43 years old and had already played more than 4,000 gigs before his "commercial breakthrough" in 1968."
My wife and I had the thrill of seeing him in concert at the PAC, with seventh-row seats, playing songs and telling stories.
Interactive maps, downloadable shapefiles, and chronological narratives of state and county boundaries over time. Useful for historical and genealogical research.
Massachusetts' chronology is particularly interesting, as it covers the former separate colony of Plymouth and the Maine and New Hampshire regions that were split off as separate entities. I'd always wondered why Norfolk County is south of Suffolk. Unfortunately, the Oklahoma data set treats Indian Territory as a unitary entity, rather than attending to the changes in tribal boundaries over the course of the 19th century.
(Via a Center for Investigative Reports article about how they used satellite imagery and boundary information to trace out the U. S. / Mexico border fence. They used OpenStreetMap and JOSM to create a shapefile of the fence.)
Jeff Dunetz pays tribute to "one of the people most responsible for tuning me into a political geek." Weinstein was working as a government-funded economic development adviser in Pakistan, promoting dairy development, when he was kidnapped from by al-Qaeda. He had been in captivity for three and a half years, during which time the Obama Administration and Pakistani governments did little to secure his release.
On the 35th anniversary of the cult classic, the A. V. Club talks to the film's producers and writers and as many stars as they could round up, including Robert Hays (Ted Striker), Maureen McGovern (the nun), and two of the kids in the movie (Joey, who got to go the cockpit, and Lisa, the sick little girl with the IV that wouldn't stay plugged in).
An interesting highlight: Al White, one of the two "jive talkers," talks about the linguistic research he did to develop his lines.
Second in a series: The first was about Weird Al Yankovic's UHF.
From Megan McArdle's review of Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed
"Shame is, after all, a force for good as well as evil. A proper accounting of the problems with shame-storming has to convey that reality, as well as articulate how we might better balance the need to enforce some sort of social norms against the terrible harms, economic as well as emotional, that shame-storming can inflict....
"Shame is one way we enforced good behavior in small groups before there were laws or trading networks. It is a very powerful motivator, and it helps us to come together in large cooperative groups with high degrees of trust and sharing. A hatred of being shamed ourselves and a love of shaming others who have transgressed both literally helped to make us human....
"But as Lane suggests, shame doesn't just punish wrongdoers; it also turns us into our own moral enforcers. Once we've been shamed, we are strongly motivated to avoid doing the things that brought it on. Or at least, most of us are -- one of the hallmarks of sociopaths is that they don't feel shame or remorse. To paraphrase Gordon Gekko, shame is good. Shame is right. Shame works....
"In the small groups we evolved to live in, shame is tempered by love and forgiveness. People are shamed for some transgression, then they are restored to the group. Ultimately, the shamed person is not an enemy; he or she is someone you need and want to get along with. This is how you make up with your spouse after one or both of you has done or said something terrible....
"On the Internet, when all the social context is stripped away and you don't even have to look at the face of the person you're being mean to, shame loses its social, restorative function. Shame-storming isn't punishment. It's a weapon. And weapons aren't supposed to be used against people in your community; they're for strangers, people in some other group that you don't like very much....
"If we want shaming to be restorative -- to help us create and enforce better norms in a broad community -- then it needs to come paired with charity and forgiveness. Shame-storms rarely offer either; the shame is administered, then the storm drizzles away, leaving only a terrified victim and Google's memory of our momentary collective outrage. Without the mercy and restraint of the small community, it can too easily become nothing more than a particularly destructive way to pass an idle moment."
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